How Much Does a Defamation Lawsuit Cost? Cost to Sue for Defamation
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Have you been defamed on the internet and are considering a . At ? Costs are a number one concern among our clients when it comes to pursuing a Minc , we’ve litigated hundreds of (in any jurisdiction). lawsuits in over 25 states and 3 countries, so we know what contributes to the cost of a
It’s important to understand that every is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer for determining a case’s total costs. But, there is a way to better understand a case’s potential costs and what kind of budget is required to litigate and restore your reputation. On this legal resource page, we will walk you through how much a defamation lawsuit costs so that you can know what to expect when filing suit.
In the video below, I will go over 1.) The six key stages of a defamation lawsuit, 2.) Factors unique to defamation cases that affect costs, 3.) How much defamation lawsuits cost, 4.) What an average defamation case looks like, and 5.) If it is worth it to sue for defamation. If you are feeling “sticker shock” from seeing the total costs of a defamation lawsuit in one sum, you are not alone.
Video: How Much Does a Defamation Lawsuit Cost? Cost to Sue for Defamation
Several major factors which may impact the costs of a or cost, including:
- Whether you are seeking monetary relief,
- If a ’s identity is known or unknown,
- Whether a order is necessary to remove the content in question,
- Amount of defamatory content online,
- Whether time is of the essence or not,
- Fees for local counsel,
- Whether the case is contested by the other side, and
- Type of fee structure you agree to.
In this post, you’ll learn how much a costs, factors that influence expenses, fee structures, and how much we charge at Minc .
Let’s kick things off with a deeper breakdown of the unique factors which drive costs in online cases.
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Factors Unique to Internet Cases & Their Impact on Costs
Simply put, the cost of any depends on many variables, so there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Internet cases, in particular, require specialized expertise and as they include countless unique factors that can influence cost. But, what exactly are the driving factors that influence a ’s cost?
The cost of a will increase if a victim is seeking monetary relief, such as:
- Payment for lost business,
- Missed work,
- Medical bills,
- , or
In and cases compensation for mental distress or to reputation are called (or ). Damages that don’t qualify as must typically be proven with documents and other evidence that specifically quantifies the . These are referred to as special damages or .
Sometimes, proving special damages (or ) isn’t very hard. For example, if an employee loses their job because of and by a co-worker, or can point to medical bills from doctor visits to deal with the caused by the , can be easy to prove. However, evidence and witness testimony to prove in a is not always that easily obtainable for a .
Proving suit too because a suit is for a that was spoken and no written evidence may exist. in a case is even more difficult than in a
and claims involving a business or business owner are also more difficult to prove. They often require the help of expert witnesses such as accountants or other financial professionals to help quantify losses accurately.
Additionally, if a is looking to recover attorneys fees as compensation for their , this requires getting an award for by showing that the acted with when they made the . means that a knowingly made a , or did so with for the truth of the that was made. The burden of proof to show or in is much higher than other types of damages.
Cases that seek monetary rewards, as opposed to just injunctive relief, are usually highly contentious and may last longer than other types of or cases. This ultimately adds to case expenses at the end of the day if you are a .
If you already know the identity of the person who published the anonymous posters, you may be able to save some money on your . When your has to launch an investigation to identify before a has begun against a known individual, increase to do this investigation. Tracking down an unknown defamer is almost like a case-within-a-case because of the legal work required before it even begins.
This may involve serving multiple website owners, hosts, and online entities with subpoenas to learn the identity of anonymous posters. Occasionally, tech-savvy private investigators need to get involved as well. Naturally, these extra steps (and extra experts) can increase an internet . and cost of an
If a order is necessary to obtain relief (including removal of the false speech) that can extend the time, work, and the cost of your case. Unfortunately, some websites have policies that require and a order before they will remove . Sometimes orders are easy to get, while other times they aren’t.
The length of time and amount of work involved in securing a order to remove content can greatly impact the expenses of your case. There is good news though. orders aren’t typically required to remove defamatory content from the internet, so this may be one area where you’re able to save on legal costs.
Amount of Defamatory Content
The more defamatory content and that are posted about you, the more work and that will be involved in every stage of the removal process. More defamatory content leads to more citations, more evidence, more time preserving evidence, and more people to serve for your .
Think about it. As of September 2019, the internet contains over 6.08 billion pages. That’s a lot of content to sift through. Defamatory content has a sneaky way of popping up on numerous other websites and platforms than the original site it was posted on. So, if you want defamatory content removed from every site it’s posted on, that’s going to take more time and work, which translates to greater .
More “active” cases and emergencies increase costs, as well. For example, an emergency situation may arise where a newly opened restaurant has been flooded with dozens of fake Google reviews. With over 20 percent of new businesses failing during their first year, removing fake reviews immediately is essential for surviving an already volatile market.
When content is still actively being posted, more time and attention is required to preserve the evidence. It also greatly expands the scope of the . For people experiencing active and ongoing , they often want quick results to stop the fake posts. This can come at a premium, because your now has to work even more expeditiously to secure their removal.
This may require the filing of emergency motions, because the traditional legal process can take a long time. Emergency motions may stop the creation of defamatory content, even temporarily, while the case is pending. As you might imagine, this adds extra pressure and work to the legal process and increases costs.
for Local Counsel
Sometimes, a requires the help of a local to pursue litigation in the right jurisdiction. Hiring local counsel is often essential in internet cases where a is located outside the jurisdiction(s) a is licensed to practice in.
The costs of local counsel can influence the cost of your case because attorneys don’t always charge the same everywhere. In large cities and jurisdictions like New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., attorneys command exceptionally high prices. But, this could work in your favor if the you’re experiencing happens to occur in a lower-priced jurisdiction.
Finally, one of the biggest variables affecting the price of a is whether the case is contested or not. A contested case simply means the other side is challenging your legal assertions and claims. There are dozens of defenses available under the , so cases can become contested fairly easily. This is especially true if your involves matters of , an absolute or , you are a public figure, or the is a journalist.
When cases are uncontested or settle quickly, legal representation is much more affordable. However, when the other party is confrontational, refuses to settle, and fights every step of the way, your case will involve more preparation and work for your . It can also cause a case to drag on much longer than an uncontested case.
The more time and work involved in your case, the pricier your case becomes.
Differences inFee Structures & Impact on Case Costs
vary based on the type of fee structure you agree to with your . There are three primary types of fee structures attorneys work on:
- Contingency fees,
- Flat fees, and
- Retainer fees.
Many clients have seen commercials where lawyers advertise, “no fee unless you win!” This is commonly referred to as a “contingency fee” structure, because payment is contingent upon a specific result.
While contingency fees may be popular in some legal fields (like online cases.) this type of fee structure is incredibly rare for
Contingency fee structures don’t make sense for cases because the remedy sought is usually not financial, and large payouts are few and far between. There are also numerous privileges and defenses that defendants may rely on to skirt liability, making a “guaranteed win” unlikely.
While contingency fees are rare in cases, some cases may offer a “guaranteed removal or your money back.” This option is available if the defamatory content is posted on certain websites.
Like contingency fees, flat fees are not very practical for cases. Because so many variables can influence the cost of a case, it’s impossible to set a pre-established flat fee that accounts for all possibilities. Flat fees may save on costs for those facing the most expensive types of cases, but could also be unfairly high for those with more affordable cases.
For these reasons, we’ve found that retainers and hourly fees are the most practical method of billing.
Minc does, however, offer guaranteed removals from countless cheater shaming, homewrecker exposing, and complaints websites for a flat, reasonable fee.
A retainer fee is an up-front deposit provided before work begins and hourly fees are taken from that retainer on a monthly basis.
You are provided a billing so you can still keep track of costs, but don’t have to pay any fees until the retainer is depleted. After that point, you will be billed month-to-month and required to make timely payments.
Otherwise, you might be subject to an evergreen retainer, which includes a rule that your retainer does not drop below a specified amount (e.g., $1,000).
Minc Law typically uses a retainer fee structure while handling internet defamation matters. If you are interested in learning more about retainer fee agreements and the key benefits of using them, we recommend checking out our video on the subject below.
Video: Attorney Retainer Fee Agreement: What Is It and How Does It Work?
Factors that Influence Cost in AllCases
expenses can also be influenced by some extra factors that apply to almost any legal matter. Below are several factors which not only impact cases, but all other legal cases.
At Minc , customer service is important to us, and we strive to be highly responsive. We don’t shy away from clients who want daily personal attention, frequent phone calls, or emails. Even so, extra attention requires more time and that can raise costs.
The good news is, this is one potential cost-saving measure that is almost entirely within your control and depends on your personal preference. You can choose to contact us as much as you want if pricing is less of a concern for you or communicate less frequently if you’d prefer to keep costs at a minimum.
The length of time it takes to resolve a case can vary and has a major influence on cost. Some content removals can be achieved in less than a week, other cases can drag on for years. We go over the factors that influence the length of a defamation lawsuit in this article, “How Long Does it Take to Sue for Defamation?”.
Discovery & Evidence
Likewise, the amount of evidence, documents, interrogatories, witnesses, length of a deposition, and discovery involved in the prosecution of a case can influence costs. More evidence, more interrogatories, more time in a deposition, and more witnesses require more work, which can lead to a higher price tag. Beyond that, expert witnesses are an extra cost that may become necessary in certain situations, particularly when monetary damages are sought.
costs, filing fees, transcript fees, and reports vary based on jurisdiction. Travel expenses to appear in specific jurisdictions also add to the bottom line.
If a case is high-conflict, requiring emergency motions and extra work product, costs add up quickly. When counterclaims and Anti-SLAPP motions are made by defendants, that will typically increase the time frame for resolution as well as costs.
Appeals that occur after a case is resolved can also lead to additional expenses.
Mediation vs. Trial
Mediation may be a more affordable resolution for some cases, but it is not entirely free. Typically, mediators have to be paid in addition to your legal team.
Taking a case to trial and to be heard in front of a jury, however, is the much more expensive route. Trial and jury preparation can begin anywhere from 30 to 60 days prior to trial, involve multiple attorneys, and the trials themselves can last for days. Even the visual materials needed at trials (visual evidence and demonstrations) add extra costs.
How Much DoCases at Minc Cost?
Now that you know all the various factors that can influence the cost of an internet , we can review the typical costs for an internet at Minc .
We pride ourselves on transparency and understand that the cost of legal representation is at the forefront of a client’s mind. Nevertheless, the price ranges listed below represent averages and are influenced by the myriad factors listed above.
At Minc , we have a retainer agreement for all litigation matters. We generally set a $7,500 retainer, at a minimum. This deposit is then billed on an hourly basis. If a case extends after a retainer is depleted, we continue to bill monthly.
Uncontested Case Costs
Our standard case is usually uncontested and involves 1 to 2 websites. We often have to subpoena websites to identify defendants and then get orders to remove content. The standard case is resolved for an average total of $15,000. But, this amount is not billed all at once, so monthly costs tend to run from $1,000 to $3,000 per month. Of course, some cases are resolved more affordably, and others get more expensive.
Contested Case Costs
For contested cases, costs fall between $4,000 and $6,000 per month for the length of the case. If your case proceeds all the way to trial, it’s possible to see total trial costs reach $30,000 to $60,000 because of the work and personnel involved.
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We Help Our Clients Cut Costs
If you’re feeling “sticker shock” from seeing the total costs of litigation in one lump sum, you aren’t alone. We understand that cost is a primary concern for most clients. That’s why one of our top goals for every case is to figure out creative ways for clients to cut costs. And when cases get expensive, we offer flexible payment arrangements to ease the burden.
Internet cases are not easy, but if you’ve read this far, chances are you’re troubled by the online you’re experiencing. We’re up-front about our costs because we’re here to help. Together, we can preserve and restore your online reputation.
Do you still have lingering questions regarding Minc Law? If so, we compiled our top 6 most frequently asked questions into a video. In this video, we answer our most asked questions so that you can go into your consultation feeling confident in our ability to handle your internet-related issue.
Video: Top 6 Client Questions We Get at Minc Law
“Absolutely phenomenal. Michael took care of every single issue of defamation. I was concerned about wording because of the public nature of all parties involved, but Michael had open communication and approval from me all along the way. I will suggest him to absolutely anyone.”
KD, June 20, 2022
If you’d like more personalized advice or a quote, we offer a free, no-obligation, initial defamation consultation. Contact the internet defamation attorneys of Minc Law by calling us at (216) 373-7706, or by chat, email, or contact form today. Also, feel free to check out our article, “Top 8 Frequently Asked Questions About Internet Defamation Lawyers” for a closer look at the vital role our attorneys play in removing defamatory content from the internet.
Our goal is to help you find the right attorney for you. We understand that we might not always be the best fit for every client situation. Our articles, “Top Internet Defamation Lawyers & Law Firms in the United States” and “Top Online Defamation Services“, lists the nation’s top services and firms in the United States.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Table 7. Survival of private sector establishments by opening year" (2020).