If you've been the subject of a defamatory statement made online or via social media, use this sample as a template when crafting your own demand letter. (Get the basics on Social Media and Online Defamation.)
Sample Demand Letter - Online Defamation
April 6, 20xx
Ms. Rachel Grimes
East Coast Insurance
P.O. Box 3404
Washington, DC 20002
Re: Your insured: Martin Calder
Date of incident: June 12, 20xx
Your file number: U898-NM999 [NOTE: Always use the insurer’s file number on all correspondence with the insurer]
Dear Ms. Grimes:
As you know, your insured, Mr. Calder, defamed me in his blog post of October 21. He claimed that I had been fired from a previous job for sexually harassing an employee at my former workplace, Richardson Accounting. That allegation is completely false. To make it perfectly clear, I never sexually harassed an employee at Richardson Accounting, I never harassed an employee at Richardson Accounting, and I was not fired from Richardson Accounting. I had resigned to take a new job with Griffin Accounting. Mr. Calder knew all of this very well. He and I had had disputes in the past, and I had made all of this very clear to him. Furthermore, he had spoken about this with Mr. Richardson, owner of Richardson Accounting, and Mr. Richardson confirmed my position on the matter. Nevertheless, he continued to make these false claims about me.
As a result of Mr. Calder’s post on his News from the Accounting World blog, Griffin Accounting fired me. I was unemployed for four months. During this time, I made inquiries all around the metro area for accounting jobs, and concluded that I was now untouchable. No one who didn’t already know me was going to take a chance on me. I had to go back to Richardson Accounting and beg for a job there. Richardson did rehire me, but at a substantial decrease in salary. [NOTE: You always want to explain all of the significant facts relating to the defendant's liability.]
I was earning $120,000 a year at Griffin Accounting, but I am now earning only $90,000 a year back at Richardson Accounting. People are less friendly to me now at the monthly meetings of our accountants’ association, and even some of my new clients have heard about your insured’s post and have mentioned the issue to me. To put it bluntly, I was and am humiliated. As a result of your insured’s negligent and outrageous actions, I had to see a counselor, Robert Woods, who arranged for a psychiatrist to prescribe Valium to relax me. I have been back to work at Richardson for a few months now and I am still upset. I still take the Valium occasionally and I still see the counselor every other week. I have enclosed copies of his records and bills. Prior to this incident, I had never had any mental health treatment. [NOTE: You always want to make sure that the adjuster has all of your medical records and bills when you make a demand. The adjuster will not consider your demand until he/she has your entire medical file.]
I contend that your insured is liable for defamation. His blog post was a false statement of fact that he negligently or even intentionally published on the internet. Another page on his own blog states that his blog is the leading and most well-read blog among local accountants. It is fair to say that a substantial percentage of local accountants read his blog. His post has definitely held me up to scorn, hatred, ridicule, disgrace, and contempt in the minds of the readers of his blog. He has no defense. If we go to trial, I will win. [NOTE: You want to summarize the defendant's liability. Explain clearly why you think that you will win the case and why the insured is liable. Learn more about the elements of a defamation claim.]
My medical and counseling bills total $6,000. My insurance covered only the prescriptions. I paid for the counseling out of my own pocket. My health insurance sent me a letter in which it claims a lien of $100 on any settlement that I may get in this case. [NOTE: If you have to repay your health insurance -- and you almost always have to -- make sure that you tell the adjuster.]
My medical bills were as follows:
City Pharmacist 100.00
Woods therapy 5,900.00
TOTAL $6,000.00 [NOTE: You always want to put together a little chart listing your medical bills. Don’t make the adjuster read through them to figure out how much they are.]
With respect to lost earnings, as I stated, I lost a $120,000 per year job because of your insured’s actions. I lost 4 months of work due to this issue. At $10,000 per month, that is $40,000. I also had to take a lower-paying job to get back to work. I thus claim current and future lost earnings of $30,000 per year. I think that it will take me 3 years to restore my good name and get my earnings back to where they should be. That adds $90,000 in future lost earnings to my lost earnings claim. My total lost earnings claim is thus $130,000. My pain and suffering is immeasurable. I had to see a counselor and go on Valium. I was a nervous wreck. I couldn’t sleep. I lost weight. I had no appetite for weeks. I still get talked about. It is very embarrassing. [NOTE: In a claim for emotional distress, you should always explain any physical symptoms in detail. An insurer -- and a jury -- will view an emotional pain and suffering claim far more positively if you have actual physical symptoms, instead of just generalized “pain and suffering.” Learn more about damages in injury cases.]
I have attached copies of my tax returns, W-2 forms, and paystubs for the past three years to document my earnings. [NOTE: Make sure to document your lost earnings claim by providing documents that prove your earnings.] My total special damages are $136,000.00.
Taking into account your insured’s absolute liability and my serious damages in this case, I demand $400,000.00 to settle this case. If I do not hear from you in two weeks, I will contact my lawyer and have her file a lawsuit.
Very truly yours,
For everything you need to know about a defamation claim, check out Nolo's Defamation, Libel, and Slander section.