Non-Physical Personal Injuries – Law Offices of Aronberg, Aronberg & Green
When you were younger, odds are that at one point or another somebody suggested that you stick up to a bully by saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” Aside from probably making the bully even angrier, this line certainly doesn’t take into account anyone who has ever been the victim of slander or libel. Somebody whose good name has been improperly tarnished—and who has suffered significant losses as a result—would almost assuredly have rather fielded a few sticks and stones than the enormous consequences of slander or libel.
Slander/libel and emotional damage are two aspects of personal injury law that are often left out of the sphere of conversation in dealing with P.I. law. Most commonly, and understandably so, when people talk about personal injuries they refer to broken bones, twisted ankles and concussions. Still, some of the most costly and devastating personal injuries aren’t physically noticeable at all.
Let’s start with slander and libel. What are they? Well, they are both forms of defaming someone’s character. They are the actions and crimes of making false (or dangerously misleading) statements about somebody’s personal reputation. The difference between slander and libel is the form in which they appear—slander is spoken (for example, at town meeting), while libel is written (for example, in a newspaper). What damage do they cause? Say you are applying for a job as a social worker and a reporter who isn’t too fond of you decides to write and publish an article in which he states that are a liar, a cheat and routinely act inappropriately—all of which isn’t true. Then, let’s say that the hiring department at the office of social work, having seen the awful things written about you, refuses to extend to you the job offer that they otherwise would have given you. You would have become a victim of libel (if the person had simply told everyone the lies verbally, it would have been slander). In the above instance, not only were damaging lies spread about you, but you suffered financially as a result. Missing out on a high-paying job because of someone’s baseless lies might cost you enormous amounts of money. In this case, and many like it (including cases in which you don’t necessarily suffer the loss of a job opportunity), you can sue the perpetrator of the lies for slander (or libel, as the case may be).
Now let’s discuss emotional damage. In the aftermath of any type of injury—car accident, slip and fall, nursing home neglect, etc., emotional or mental damage can be experienced on some level. If you were involved in a minor fender bender that resulted in no damage and no bodily injury, you probably won’t be plagued with emotional distress for years after the accident. However, if, for example, you were in an awful car accident in which somebody got hurt, or if “caretakers” at a nursing home abused you, you may very well be forced to deal with the emotional and mental trauma for the rest of your life. Even if you were a victim of slander or libel you may be dealing with emotional distress for years after the fact. So how do you put a price on an emotional or mental trauma?
With the job loss associated due to a libelous article, you can point to the salary that you would have been making at the job. With emotional and mental trauma, the cost of associated therapy and medication is often considered. Experts can also determine price costs of loss of enjoyment of life, among other consequences of mental and emotional trauma, along with days of work missed, opportunities forfeited, etc.
We hope you have learned from reading this blog that when someone is involved in any type of accident, their suffering does not end when the Band-Aids come off (and in a case of defamation, there need not be any Band-Aids for there to be suffering). Mental anguish as a result of any type of personal injury (physical or not) is important and worth seeking justice for.
If you have any questions, please contact us for a free consultation at 561-266-9191 or firstname.lastname@example.org.