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Libel and Slander

Understanding Types of Defamation Cases

Defamation occurs when a person makes a false statement either spoken or written which damages a business, product, government or person's reputation. Defamation can take the form of the spoken word which is considered slander or the written word which is considered libel. While slander is generally a spoken word, libel can be any false claim made in a fixed medium such as a picture, electronic broadcast or sign.

If you have been the victim of any type of defamatory statements either spoken or written you may have grounds for either a civil or criminal case. Contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your personal injury case.

If you are able to prove you have been defamed the courts will consider several issues prior to awarding you damages. The courts evaluate the seriousness of the injury, the financial loss of the plaintiff and other additional injuries the plaintiff may have suffered to their reputation. You may be rewarded actual damages which is the amount of money that will compensate you for the injury and return you to the position you were in prior to being defamed. If the defendant is found to have been intentionally malicious in their acts the court may award punitive damages. Punitive damages are assessed to punish and deter the wrong-doer from acting again in a willful and malicious manner.

Evaluate and Prove Your Defamation Lawsuit

You may have a personal injury case for defamation if you can prove that what was said or written was not true and it was so malicious that your business, reputation, or product was injured in some way. There are four claims that must be proven to win a personal injury case for slander or libel.

  • It is shown that the defendant made a defamatory statement. Defamatory can be defined as any communication that was hostile or disparaging to the plaintiff. It is possible for a joke to be considered defamatory if individuals who heard the joke thought it was true.
  • The communication either written or spoken must be communicated to someone else other then the plaintiff. This does not mean it has to be published and distributed in mass. It could have been sent in an email, letter, or newspaper article. Dissemination does not include the unintentional reading by a third party if the third party received the communication by mistake.
  • It must be proven that the plaintiff could be identified as the target of the libel or slander. It is not slander even if the communication is slanderous or libelous if the recipients can not identify the subject. The communication can rise to the level of defamation if additional information is added to the communication which may make it clear who the subject might be.
  • The communication must have caused some type of monetary loss or damage of the plaintiff's reputation. There are several types of communications that are considered "per se" defamation. These include any false message communicating professional incompetence, the plaintiff is a criminal, an unmarried person is unchaste, or the plaintiff has a sexually transmitted disease.

There are several types of defenses which the defendant can claim to disprove your case. The best defense is that the communication was true. The second is if you agreed to allow the statements to be written or spoken or the communication was accidentally published. The final defense can be made by certain individuals such as jurors, witnesses, lawyers and judges who may have special protection against prosecution for purposes of litigation.

The best way to evaluate your claim of libel or slander is to consult with a personal injury attorney familiar with these types of personal injury claims. A good libel and slander attorney can evaluate if the facts of the case are clear and if real damages can be proven.

How to File a Slander or Defamation Lawsuit

If you have suffered substantial monetary loss or if your reputation has been severely damaged it is a good idea to consult an attorney regarding a personal injury claim. If however, you have suffered very little loss you need to consider the consequences of a personal injury claim. The publicity from the case can potentially attract a greater audience for the accusations then were involved previously. In addition, a defamation case can be difficult to win and the compensation if you win can be minimal. If you lose the case the public may also perceive that the defamatory statements were true.

You can fill out our free case evaluation and speak to an experienced slander and defamation attorney in your area.

Is there a Statute Of Limitations for Filing My Defamation Claim Lawsuit?

There is statute of limitations to filing a personal injury claim for slander or libel. The statute of limitation can vary from 6 month to 3 years depending on where you live. It is important to consult with a personal injury attorney who understands defamation cases and charges a fair price to evaluate your personal injury claim before the statute of limitations expires.