Defamation is something that happens every day around the world somewhere; just most of it goes unnoticed or is ignored. For the most part, this is probably for the best. After all, sometimes it’s just better to let things go because you have better things to do in your life, like watching your son’s soccer game or your daughter’s gymnastics competition. However, sometimes if your reputation is damaged and your future ability to earn a living is in jeopardy, it’s best to seek representation.

Tate Bywater is a top-rated law firm that specializes in civil litigation cases, including defamation cases. We also represent a variety of law specialties, including family law, bankruptcy law, business law, and traffic law. With over 40 years of representing clients in the Prince William County area, we have the knowledge and the experience to ensure your outcome is the most favorable as possible. Below, we’ll take a look at some of the damages that can be rewarded in defamation cases. Contact us today to learn more!


One of the main differences between civil cases and criminal cases is that civil cases normally don’t carry a penalty of prison terms. Instead, if you are convicted of harming someone in a civil case, odds are, the penalty will be in some type of monetary compensation, most often called damages in legal terms. This monetary sum is restitution for the harm you caused someone as a result of a conviction in a defamation case. Damages are either those that can be calculated precisely or those that cannot. Damages are usually classified in four ways:


Presumed damages are awarded in cases where defamation is so obvious that it doesn’t need to be proved. However, recently the Supreme Court virtually eliminated the rewarding of presumed damages for the media.


Also known as compensatory damages, actual damages in defamation cases are the actual damages suffered by the harm the fallacies caused. Most likely, this is a lost job or business slowdowns. Tate Bywater notes that mental anguish and personal humiliation are now considered damages suffered that can be rewarded for, as they are tangible effects of someone’s malicious words against another.


Special damages are damages rewarded when the harm done is not quite so obvious. Plaintiffs still have the burden of proof in order to receive special damages. Also called speculative damages, special damages are usually damages that have yet to occur from a defamation online or a lost job.


Also known as exemplary damages, punitive damages are only rewarded where other damages just don’t seem sufficient enough to punish the offender. In most of these cases, the offense is so egregious that some form of additional punishment is warranted. Tate Bywater’s civil litigation lawyers note that they are meant to discourage the offender from ever defaming anyone else, and they are meant to send a message to others that defaming a person or business is not okay in the eyes of the law.

As mentioned before, states have their own rules with regards to what constitutes defamation, as well as what damages can be rewarded. Tate Bywater recommends that you consult your civil litigation attorney about specifics related to your case.


Defamation law is a very complex part of the civil law in all states, including in Prince William County. It takes a very experienced civil litigation attorney to assess your particular situation and advise you on the proper course of action. Sometimes all it will take is a cease and desist defamation letter; other times, it may take a judge to decide.

Tate Bywater has many experienced civil litigation lawyers, boasting 40 plus years of experience in Virginia, Washington, DC, and Maryland. We offer convenient locations in Vienna, Fairfax, and Saint Leonard, and you can go to whichever is the most convenient for you. Additionally, we offer law services in many areas, including wills, trusts, and estate planning, real estate, whistleblower, personal injury, family law, and more. We are here when you need to tackle the tough areas of your life.

If you feel you have been a victim of defamation, don’t let the hurt go on any longer. Contact our civil litigation lawyers today for a free consultation!