What is the pain and suffering calculation in a defamation case?
In a defamation lawsuit, as with any other kind of personal injury case, the person who has been harmed (the person who is the subject of the defamatory statement) is entitled to monetary compensation, which is called "damages" in legalese. And the injured person's "pain and suffering" is one component of compensable damages, even in a defamation lawsuit.
So, what is "pain and suffering"? You might think it is limited to the kinds of cases where the plaintiff suffers physical harm, such as car accident lawsuits or slip and fall claims. While it's true that pain and suffering damages are meant to compensate the plaintiff for physical discomfort and limitations caused by the injuries, there is also a mental and emotional aspect to this kind of compensation.
In a defamation case, pain and suffering damages are meant to compensate the plaintiff for the non-economic effects of the defamatory statement. That means the kind of harm that can't be easily quantified. Let's say someone makes an untrue statement about you, saying that you stole money from your employer. You end up getting fired, and you file a successful defamation lawsuit against the person who made the statement.
The jury would likely award you compensatory (economic) damages which would cover your lost income, and that number might be easy to calculate. But you'll likely also be awarded non-economic damages for your pain and suffering. In defamation cases, that means things like the humiliation, embarrassment, and mental distress caused by the defamatory statement and the ensuing impact the statement had on your personal and professional life.
The amount of a pain and suffering award in a defamation case is not easy to predict, because every case is different. To learn more about what you need to prove in a defamation case, click on the link below.
by: David Goguen, J.D.