If you believe you have been defamed and/or slandered, you might consider taking legal action against the guilty person. Before meeting with a personal injury lawyer who can assess the merits of your case, you may be interested to know more about the legal views on this subject.

What Is Defamation?

Defamation is when someone communicates a false statement that results in harm to the reputation of a person, business, group, religion, or product. It can even apply to a nation or government. For it to be considered defamation, the statement must be proven to be untrue, and it must have been made by someone other than the person it applies to.

What Is Defamation?

There are two types of defamation: slander and libel. Both involve someone making a false statement against a second party.

  • Slander is making a false statement by speaking. It can also be done by hand gestures, sounds, or by using sign language.
  • Libel is defamation by written word, pictures, or in any other kind of form other than speaking or gesturing.
Where Would You Encounter Defamatory Statements?

The existence of defamatory statements is everywhere, especially with the technology available today, not the least of which is the Internet. To find examples of libel, you could look to anything where something is written, including:

● Public comments on social media

● Blogs and responses to the blogs

● Internet chat rooms

● Letters to the editor (though they typically take those statements out before it’s published)

As for slander, it’s spoken word, and that can happen at any time by someone and directed at somebody else. If you tell your friend something negative and untrue about your neighbor in the heat of the moment, theoretically, your neighbor could sue you for defamation. The biggest thing to understand is that to sue, you need to be able to prove you were damaged because of the slander. So in the example involving your friend and neighbor, if you erroneously told your friend that your neighbor was an illegal alien and your neighbor lost his job as a result, he could sue you.

What Is Required for a Lawsuit to be Considered Valid?

Defamation laws vary according to what state you reside, but there are some standards that hold true regardless. To pursue a lawsuit, the following elements must be present:

  1. Someone made a statement;
  2. This statement was published;
  3. This statement caused you damages or injury;
  4. This statement was not true; and
  5. The statement didn’t fall into a confidential or privileged category.

Looking closer, the statement needs to be spoken for it to be considered slander and written if it’s considered libel. The words people say are usually forgotten after a period, so courts find that libel is more dangerous and harmful than slander.

  • To meet the requirement of publication, a third party must have read the statement. It cannot be the person making the statement, or the person who is the subject of the statement.
  • To meet the requirement of injury, the defamation or slander must have injured the person or the reputation of the individual. Damage includes if you lost your job as a result of the defamation.
  • Certain statements are privileged. When someone speaks as a witness at a trial and says something untrue, you cannot sue them for defamation, as the act of testifying at a trial is considered privileged. This ensures that the witness feels comfortable speaking all of the truth without fear of punishment. If the statement is privileged, you cannot sue for defamation.

A plaintiff in a defamation or slander case is entitled to receive certain damages for any injuries they incurred as a result of the statement. This would include earnings lost, and even their lost earning capacity, pain and suffering, personal humiliation, shame, and an impairment to their reputation. Speak with a Phoenix personal injury lawyer to know more about how laws regarding defamation and slander may affect you if you feel someone has caused you injury as a result.

Thanks to our friends and contributors from Lorona Mead LLP for their insight into defamation and personal injury.