A person’s reputation carries quite a lot of weight. Your reputation can affect your career prospects, academics, business, and social life. In order to protect you from malicious statements intended to cause harm, the law allows for civil lawsuits against defamation. Defamation is defined as damaging a person’s reputation, either in writing or verbally. When defamation occurs in writing, it is called libel; when it occurs verbally, it is called slander. A plaintiff can sue a defendant for defamation and receive damages. Defamation cases can be complex and, therefore, we highly encourage you to reach out to us and allow our expert litigators take on your case.
The Mechanics of Slander and Libel
One of the most important aspects of defamation is the intent to damage a person’s reputation. When a person writes or says their opinion on a matter, they are not necessarily committing libel or slander. There are specific elements or conditions that have to be met in order for a defamation lawsuit to hold merit. There must be evidence that the defendant intentionally published (through written or oral form) to a third party a fact that was false, unprivileged, would cause damage to reputation, and negligent. The plaintiff (the person who files the defamation lawsuit) has the burden to prove these aforementioned elements. One of the more unfamiliar elements concerns privilege. Within the context of defamation, privilege is extended to court and legislative statements (and some other instances). If a statement is considered privileged, the plaintiff cannot sue based on defamation claims.
Defamation lawsuits can claim defamation per se, which does not require proving actual damage, but rather that the defamation in and of itself was damaging. If the plaintiff meets their burden of proof for defamation, they can be awarded damages. The type and amount of damages is contingent on the context of the specific lawsuit. If you believe you have a defamation case or have been accused of defamation (whether slander or libel), please reach out to us at Law Advocate Group for more help.