Defamation is a very complex legal theory that requires strong evidence in order to find liability against the other party. Defamation can oftentimes be very difficult to prove, that is why it is very important to hire an experienced defamation attorney that is well-versed with the laws of your state in order to pursue claims for your injuries.
What is defamation?
Defamation occurs when a party makes a false statement about another and publishes it to a third party. This publishing then causes damages to the plaintiff.
What is a defamation lawsuit?
When one party has been defamed by another, they will file a lawsuit against the other party. The defamed party is then considered the plaintiff, and the third party who spread the false statement will be considered the defendant. A defamation lawsuit requires different elements that must be proven, along with strong evidence that must be brought into court in order to show the defendant’s liability. Our defamation attorneys are available 24/7 to determine the merits of your defamation claim, and the different types of evidence you may need in order to strengthen your case against the defendant.
What are the different types of evidence in defamation lawsuits?
There are generally two types of evidence that could be brought in a defamation civil case. It is very important to hire an experienced attorney that could gather these two types of evidence to strengthen the claim.
- Direct evidence: this is evidence that directly proves the elements of the defamation claim. There is no need to make inferences. For example, having a newspaper that has published a defamatory statement about the plaintiff is direct evidence.
- Circumstantial evidence: this is evidence that someone will need in order to draw inferences. This is evidence that indirectly proves an element of the claim. For example, if the defendant’s dog’s name was Snowy, and the defamatory statement was published by a user whose username was @snowythedog, you may be able to bring this type of circumstantial evidence into court in order to show that defendant was the one who published the defamatory statement.
What are the different forms of evidence in a defamation lawsuit?
There are four different forms of evidence that could be brought into court when pursuing the defamation claim. This includes:
- Physical evidence: physical evidence is one of the most direct pieces of evidence, and it refers to material objects that you could bring in. For example, a printed magazine that has published the defamatory statement is physical evidence since you will be bringing that to court.
- Documentary evidence: this evidence is included in documents. For example, if there was an email sent around the office that contain defamatory statements about the employee, the email itself is documentary evidence.
- Demonstrative evidence: this is a type of illustration that a party may bring in order to show evidence that is being introduced in the trial. For example, a timeline made to show when the defamatory statement occurred, and the consequences that occurred afterward is considered demonstrative evidence.
- Testimonial evidence: testimonial evidence is any verbal statements made by witnesses in court under penalty of perjury through a lay witness or an expert witness.
Civil Defamation Lawsuit in California
In order to prove defamation in California, there are certain elements that must be met in order to have a strong claim against the defendant. This includes:
- Defendant published this statement to a third party
- False statement: the statements could be made verbally (slander) or published permanently (libel)
- The statement was a fact rather than someone’s opinion
- The defamatory statement injured the plaintiff’s reputation
Who has the burden of proof in defamation lawsuits?
The burden of proof is a legal theory that states who is going to bring forth the evidence. In defamation lawsuits, since the plaintiff initiated the lawsuit against the defendant, the plaintiff then has the burden of proof of showing the court that the defendant is liable. The plaintiff in a civil lawsuit has the burden of proof of “preponderance of the evidence.”
How do attorneys collect evidence for a defamation lawsuit?
It is the responsibility of your experienced defamation attorney to gather as much evidence as possible. Different instances that our attorneys use to gather information for our clients’ defamation cases include:
- Collecting documents – Our attorneys work to gather evidence and document as to where the defamatory statement was made. For example, if the defamatory statement was made in a printed magazine, our attorneys will obtain that magazine. If the defamatory statement was made on social media, we advise our clients to document any social media posts as soon as possible since they could easily be taken down.
- Interview witnesses – Our defamation attorneys interview witnesses who have heard the defendant make the defamatory statement. These witnesses could be used to defend your credibility.
- Legal research – Our California defamation attorneys will undergo extensive legal research to make sure that your claim is adequately represented and your rights are protected.
- Consulting experts – Our California attorneys hire experts to show how the plaintiff has suffered as a result of the defamatory statement. Usually, defendants will always try to downplay the damages caused. Our experts will be able to show the damages you have suffered, whether it is to your personal property, to your business, or to your occupation. Our experts will also be able to set the groundwork to establish the emotional distress that you have suffered as a result of the defamatory statement.
- Look into defenses – The defendants almost always try to raise a defense that they were privileged in bringing about this defamatory statement. Our attorneys will gather evidence to rebut any potential defenses that the defendant could raise during the defamation lawsuit.
When Do Attorneys Gather Evidence in a Defamation Case?
During the litigation process, there is a discovery time period where each side works to discover evidence from one another. During this time, different types of discovery tools come into play including:
- Subpoenas: these are document requests to have witnesses testify
- Request for admission served onto the other party
- Requests for production of documents served onto the other party
- Depositions: these are questions and answers administered under oath onto Witnesses and parties
- Interrogatories: these are written questions and answers served to the other party
Contact a Team of Defamation Attorneys Today
If you or a loved one had had a third party make a false statement about you to others, contact our attorneys immediately to file a defamation lawsuit against the at-fault party. No person should have to endure any type of injury as a result of a defamatory statement. Our clients are from multiple different cities in California and Nevada. We are available 24/7 via phone or email. Contact our skilled defamation attorneys today to get started with the legal help you deserve.
***Disclaimer: This page is created by Heidari Law Group for educational purposes. This article provides a general understanding of the law. It does not provide specific advice. By using this site and reading through this page, there is no attorney-client relationship created between you and any member of Heidari Law. Further, due to the constant change of the law, some parts of the information above may no longer be good law.