One of the privileges that we enjoy as Americans is the freedom of speech. Under the First Amendment, we are permitted to express our opinions freely, without fear of persecution or prosecution. However, there are limits to that right, and those limits include defamation.
Defamation is defined as a false statement or statements made by one party that cause damage to the other party. The statement can be written or it can be spoken, the victim can be an individual or a business, and the harm that has been caused can be to reputation or it can be financial. Business defamation lawsuits seek to establish that a business has suffered financial harm as a result of false statements that have been published or broadcast about it.
If you believe that your business has been damaged by defamation, there are several elements you will need to prove. They are:
- That the statement made about your business was false.
This is the primary and most important element. If the defendant in a defamation case can show that the statement that they made about your business is true, then there is no defamation. There is also a significant difference between a statement of fact and an opinion. If the defendant can reasonably assert that they were stating their opinion about your business, there is no defamation.
- That the statement was clearly made about your business.
- That the statement was published.
This requirement establishes that the defamatory statement was communicated to others, whether in a newspaper, online, on a broadcast, or spoken to another person.
- That the defendant was reckless or malicious in the act of making and broadcasting the statement.
Generally speaking, you will need to be able to show that the defendant knew that the statement that they were making about your business was not true and that they had ill intent in disseminating the false information.
- The defendant was not privileged to make the defamatory statement about you.
There are certain circumstances in which making damaging statements are protected. The most important of these is that the statement was true. Others include making statements in court, such as reciting or repeating the original statement as part of a legal proceeding.
- That you suffered actual damages as a result of the defamation.
It is not enough to prove that a false statement was made about your business: you need to be able to show that you lost business or money as a result of the statement being communicated to the public.
If you believe that your business has suffered as a result of defamatory statements, our professional team can help. Contact us today to set up a time for us to meet and discuss your options.