Defamation claims are those that are brought against someone who has spoken or written fallacious statements about another party that has caused damage to his or her reputation. In civil law, statements of this nature that are written are libel, and those that are spoken are slander. While it may sound like filing and winning a defamation claim is easy, it really isn’t. The victim in the case must provide proof that the defamation occurred, that the statements were untrue, and that damage was suffered as a result.
While each state may have its own defamation laws, there are some rules that typically apply across all cases. In order for you to prove that defamation has occurred, you will have to prove that the statement meets certain guidelines.
The statement--which can be written, spoken, gestured, or pictured--has to be false. You can’t bring a defamation claim against someone simply because they said something that you did not like, or did not want others to know. If the statement is in any way true, defamation can’t be proven.
In the case of defamation, published means that someone other than you and the person who made the statement heard, read, or in some way saw what was said. This can occur through direct interaction, radio, television, speeches, newspapers, books, picket signs, gossip, or any other means that allows another person to become aware of the statement.
The information in the statement, even if it is proven false, was made under terms that are deemed “privileged,” such as those given in court, in a judge’s chambers, or other similar circumstances. This ruling is in place so that people who are called to testify do not have to fear reprisal for the statements they make under oath.
In order for defamation to be proven in a personal injury case, you will have to prove that the statement in question actually caused harm in some way. This can be in the form of being shunned in your community, dealing with harassment from the press, or losing opportunities for work as a result of the defamatory statement. If none of this can be proven, the statement will not be considered as bringing harm to you or your reputation.
If you are able to prove these four requirements, you still have not necessarily won the case. Courts typically review the circumstances and context surrounding when the statement was made, which can lead to two similar statements ending up with differing outcomes.
Another important element in defamation cases is that it does not matter if the person was mentioned by name. If there is sufficient evidence to support the belief that you were the person about which the statement was made, you may still have a defamation claim.
If you believe you have been the victim of libel or slander, and you want to see if you have enough evidence for a personal injury claim, you should contact an attorney to go over your information with you.