Plaintiffs who sue a person or a company for defamation may be able to seek considerable damages. Plaintiffs do not need to prove their damages beyond a reasonable doubt in the way that prosecutors must prove that defendants were guilty of a criminal act beyond a reasonable doubt. Instead, plaintiffs must prove that they suffered damages by a preponderance of the evidence. In order to meet this burden of proof, litigants must demonstrate only that what they allege is more likely than not to have occurred.
It Is Necessary to Present Evidence About Damages
Simply proving that a statement was false is probably not going to entitle a plaintiff to recover damages. Instead, a plaintiff must show that the false statement caused them to sustain actual damages. Plaintiffs can make this showing by proving that they lost employment opportunities or other forms of business after a defendant’s false statements about them. They could also make this showing by comparing their revenue after a defamatory act with their revenue before the defamatory act.
A Plaintiff’s Estate May Seek Damages
A plaintiff does not necessarily have to be living to bring forth a suit for defamation, John Branca, a well-known entertainment lawyer recently represented Michael Jackson’s estate in a case involving false statements against a major cable broadcaster. One reason why the estate of a deceased person may have standing to initiate a claim is because a defamatory act could impact the revenue that an estate still earns. In the example of Michael Jackson’s estate, negative public sentiment towards the late pop star may affect how much people listen to his music and whether companies want to use his songs for marketing purposes. In turn, the estate may see a depreciation in the total volume of royalties and revenue that it receives.
It Is Possible to Recover Future Damages
Some of the harm caused by libel or slander may not take place until years after libelous or slanderous wrongdoing occurs. However, that does not necessarily mean that plaintiffs have to wait for those damages to happen before seeking restitution. If plaintiffs are able to present substantive evidence about future earnings that they will lose, those future damages may be actionable.
Ultimately, plaintiffs can seek damages any time that false statements cause them harm or will cause them harm in the future. They must prove that statements were in fact false and that the statements were damaging.