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What Are Libel Damages?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 20 October 2014
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Libel damages are monetary compensation a person or business may have to pay after defaming another person’s character through the written word or broadcasts. A victim of libel may sue for libel damages in such a case and win money as compensation for the harm he suffered. For example, he may be awarded damages for financial harm if he suffers income loss or has a more difficult time practicing in his profession because of libel. He may also be awarded punitive damages as a punishment for the person who has harmed him. Generally, the victim has to prove libel and the harm he suffered, and a lawyer's help may be critical to winning this type of case.

When it comes to legal issues, harm doesn’t always have to be physical in nature. In many cases harm can be financial as well. For example, libel may lead to the loss of income or added expenses in some cases. If a libel victim suffers financial harm, a court may award damages that cover all or part of the economic damage a person has suffered. The amount of money that can be awarded in such a case may depend not only on the laws in the jurisdiction, but also the details of the case and the proof the victim has that he has suffered harm.

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Sometimes a court will also award punitive libel damages in addition to those awarded for financial harm. A court awards punitive damages not only to compensate the victim, but also to punish the person accused of libel for the words he spoke or wrote. Additionally, awards of punitive damages may have an added benefit in the court’s eyes. They may serve as an example of the penalties a person or business may face for this type of conduct. When people are aware of the seriousness of the offense and the damages that may be awarded in such cases, they may be less likely to commit libel.

Accusing another party of libel doesn’t mean that libel damages will always be awarded. The plaintiff in such a case usually has to provide proof not only of the libelous statements, but also that he suffered some type of harm because of them. For example, an individual may lose a job or client because of libel. Likewise, a libel victim may even have trouble pursuing a professional career because of statements that have damaged his reputation.

Often, libel laws and lawsuits can be confusing and complicated. To have the best possible chance of winning libel damages, a person may do well to seek a lawyer's help. A lawyer may consider the facts of a case and evaluate whether the plaintiff has a good chance of winning. If the lawyer believes the case is worth pursing, he may represent the victim and help him to win his case.

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