Defamation is a false statement that hurts your reputation and that was not made under privileged circumstances such as during testimony in court. It can be made via either slander – meaning that the statement was made orally – or as libel – meaning that it was printed in written form – but in either situation it has to have been made publicly and you must be able to prove that it was both false and injurious. It also needs to have been made as a result of either negligence or malice.
In order to prove that defamation against you has taken place, you must be able to show that the statements made were false, were made in such a way that they became known to a party or parties beyond yourself and the person making the statement, and that it is understood that the statement was about you and that it harmed your reputation. If the statement that has been made about you is true, no matter how much it may have hurt your reputation it is not considered defamatory.
The requirement that a defamatory statement was “published” is often misinterpreted by those who do not understand the law. Legally speaking, when something is published it means that it was heard or read by somebody other than the person about whom the statement was made and the person making the statement. It does not need to have appeared in an article or newspaper or in any other printed or published medium. It may have been overheard in conversation, spoken on the radio or during a speech, communicated via gossip or over social media, or any number of other methods of dispersing information.
When you meet with an attorney in order to investigate whether you can sue when somebody has made comments that have harmed your reputation, they will want answers to several very specific and difficult questions. The first and most important is whether or not the comments made about you are true. If they are not, and cannot be interpreted as mere opinions, then you may be able to sue for defamation.
The other important aspect of a defamation case that your attorney will need to prove is exactly how you have been harmed by the statement that was made. In order for defamation to be proven you must be able to show that your life has changed as a result of the different view that people take of you after having heard the statement that was made. This may include loss of employment, loss of relationships with friends or family, or harmful actions that have been taken against you since the statement was made. No matter how vile the statement made may have been, if nobody believed it to be true than your reputation cannot have been injured and defamation can’t be proven. Likewise, if your reputation was already bad then it will be difficult to show that it has suffered further.
You can learn more about Defamation Lawsuits here: