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Can I Sue for a Non-Physical Injury?

Kid CryingNegligence resulting in physical harm is surely detrimental, but a non-physical injury can be just as hurtful. The old adage, "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me," is not entirely true. Words can hurt; they can cause emotional distress, isolation from family or a community and even a loss of wages and income. It is very possible to file a suit on the grounds of an injury that did not include outright physical harm.

From this type of lawsuit, one may pursue compensation for lost wages, medical expenses and a possible award of punitive damages. Among the most common types of non-physical injury lawsuit are those filed for defamation. However, damages related to defamation can be very difficult to prove in court, and a qualified personal injury lawyer is needed to build a strong case.


There are two basic types of defamation. Libel is a very serious type of defamation, but it is often easier to prove than its cousin, slander. Libel is a defamatory depiction of an entity or individual in writing or other published format, such as in film or recorded video.  As the First Amendments protects the freedom expression,  defamation does not generally include published opinion, the depiction must be a false accusation of a crime or an otherwise detractor to the plaintiff's reputation. When charging a party with libel, the claimant is required to provide evidence the statement was made on paper or in digital form. The claimant must also clearly demonstrate the damages suffered were a direct result of the allegedly libelous material. Documentation of such damages, including verification of lost employment or wages and medical expenses, must also be provided.


Slander is a defamatory poison unto its own. Word of mouth can often be just as damaging as written messages, if not more. Slander is the act of ruining someone's reputation, accusing them of criminal acts or destroying their character in verbal statements. A slanderous statement has to be perceived as fact by the party hearing the statement, and again, negative opinions and even embarrassing accounts against someone are not slander as they are both covered by freedom of speech.

The slanderous statement has to be of a severe nature, one that is serious and has the capacity to damage the victim in a direct manner. Generally, slander is considered more short-term defamation than libel, but the burden of proof on the claimant is similar. He or she must show that the words of the defendant were false, derogatory, and directly caused measurable damage.

Defamation Personal Injury Attorneys

If you have been been the victim of libel or slander and would like to learn more about filing a non-physical personal injury lawsuit, contact an experienced San Jose personal injury attorney.  At Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P., we understand the difficult road that lies ahead and are ready to help you protect your rights. Call us today for a free initial consultation at (408) 289-1417.  

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I absolutely cannot speak highly enough of CMA Law, particularly of Mr. McMahon, with whom I have had the most experience. My entire family and I trusted CMA with our case following a significant and life-altering vehicle accident, and to say they delivered is putting it lightly. They were reachable & personable at every stage of this arduous, complex, and scary process, made things easier at every stage, inspired us with confidence, and delivered results. If you're looking for a law firm to place the trust of you in your family in, look absolutely no further than CMA - this is your firm. Declan O.
I suffered a severe spinal injury while working as a farm mechanic in the Salinas Valley. The attorneys -Tim McMahon and Mark Sigala were fantastic from the beginning. They fought for me over 3 long years and in the end, we won a difficult liability case against the farm company who was using dangerous equipment. The defendants in the case tried everything to put the blame on me and even claimed I was their employee in order to avoid civil responsibility. Tim and Mark never gave up on me and my case. I cannot recommend them highly enough. They are fighters. Adrian A.
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