Articles Posted in Libel and Slander

A neighbor has been telling horrible lies about me and I want to sue her.  What are the most damages I can recover against her?

Tennessee law has no limit on the amount of damages you can recover.  The jury (or judge, or if jury is requested) sets the amount of the damages based on the amount of harm you have suffered.

Of course, there is always the practical problem of being able to collect the damages you win.  But there is no damage cap imposed on jury awards in slander cases.

I settled a lawsuit against a neighbor who slandered me.  Do I have to pay federal income taxes on the money I received?

Probably, but check with your tax advisor.  Under current law, money received in cases arising from personal injuries or death do not have to be included on your federal income tax form.  These amounts are excluded from gross income because they arise from a physical injury.  This is so even if there is a "pain and suffering" component to claim for physical injury or death.

Damages recovered  for slander and libel usually do not involve physical injury and thus probably do need to be included on a tax return.  Please check with your tax advisor.  He or she will be better able to give you accurate advice after hearing all of the relevant facts concerning your case.

My neighbor has been telling awful lies about me and is ruining my reputation.  Can I sue her?

Yes, but you may have difficulty finding a lawyer to help you do it.  If your neighbor is truly spreading lies and these lies are hurting your reputation, you can sue her for slander.  In Tennessee, you must file suit within six months of the day the slanderous words were spoken.

The problem is that most lawyers will not handle such a case on a contingent fee basis unless significant damages can be proven and there is some likelihood that the damages can be collected.  Thus, if the person who has been slandering you has no money,  a lawyer will be reluctant to take the case because he or she will not get paid for the work they do.

Of course, if you have money yourself you can hire a lawyer to help you and pay him or her by the hour for the legal work.   But, unfortunately, many people get away with saying horrible things about other people because the victim cannot afford to hire a lawyer by the hour and the wrongdoer does not have sufficient assets or income to enable to lawyer to work on a contingent fee.