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What is Defamation of Character?

Defamation is a common legal term that has been used, especially recently with many celebrities and influencers. Defamation is made up of libel and slander. Libel is a type of written defamation, whereas slander is a type of spoken defamation.

What is defamation?

Defamation is a false statement concerning another that is published to a third party. Once this false statement is published to a third party, the plaintiff must prove that it harms their personal and / or their professional reputation. It is important to note that a defamatory statement is an assertive fact rather than an opinion. An opinion, such as “I think that this person is a liar” is not a legal basis to pursue a defamation claim. That is why it is important to seek the advice of an experienced defamation attorney, such as our attorneys at the Heidari Law Group, to determine if you have a valid claim for defamation against the other party. One of the most common misconceptions is that many may think they have a defamation claim against another when the statements that the other party made was an opinion rather than an assertion of fact. To determine if the other party in your claim made a fact or an opinion regarding your reputation, contact our skilled defamation attorneys today.

Can you sue for defamation of character?

Plaintiffs can sue for defamation of character. A plaintiff who files a lawsuit for defamation against a defendant would want to collect damages that include financial and emotional distress. Damages depend on the circumstances of the defamation and the type of loss that the plaintiff suffered because of the defamation.

What do I need to prove in a defamation lawsuit?

The elements for a defamation lawsuit differ depending on whether the plaintiff is a private individual or a public individual.

Private Individual

If the plaintiff initiating the lawsuit is a private individual, the plaintiff must prove that the statement made was false. For example, if the defendant told a third party that the plaintiff had a history of cheating on his wife, the plaintiff must prove that he has not cheated on his wife. If the defendant made a statement that is true, then the plaintiff does not have a valid defamation claim. Truth is an absolute defense to defamation.

The plaintiff must also prove that the defamation was published to a third party. This includes posting it online, telling a friend, publishing it in a newspaper or magazine, or broadcasting it on the news. If the definition was told verbally to a friend, it would qualify as slander, whereas if it was published in an article, it would qualify as libel. Even if the defendant nearly just repeated the defamatory statements, the defendant could still be held liable for publishing the defamatory statement.

Public Figure

A public figure could be anybody that is under the spotlight. This includes politicians, actors, businessmen, etc. Public figures must have to prove different elements in order to pursue a defamation claim against the defendant. The plaintiff must have to prove that the defendant acted with actual malice, meaning that the defendant knew that the statement was false or had reckless disregard for the truth. For example, if a news reporter reported that a politician has been stealing money from the government for the last three years, the politician must be able to show that the news reporter had reckless disregard for the truth and did not look into these claims before reporting it to the public. These elements are different from the elements a private individual would have to assert because a public figure is under the limelight, and so there could be several statements that could be made about them on any given day.

 If you or a loved one believe that a third party has made defamatory statements about you, and you have suffered some type of injury or loss, contact our attorneys today for a free no risk consultation to determine if you have a valid defamation claim against the potential defendant. Our skilled defamation attorneys have decades of experience representing the victims who had been defamed on a private level, and on a public level.

Male coworkers whispering behind back of female employee

Social Media and Defamation

With the advancement of modern-day social media channels, such as Tik Tok, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. many social media channels are taking various steps in preventing defamatory statements. This is becoming very difficult because it requires close up monitoring, which could infringe upon another’s First Amendment rights.

Employer Defamation

One of the most common types of defamation claims we have litigated is employment defamation where the employer makes false statements regarding their employee at the workplace. For example, witnesses that have heard the employer make these defamatory statements could appear in court and explain their side of the story. The elements needed to prove workplace definition include:

  • A false and defamatory statement made about an employee
  • The statement was an authorized
  • The statement was published or communicated to a third party
  • The employer was negligent or made the statement intentionally
  • The statement harmed the employee’s reputation and character

Our workplace defamation attorneys understand that it can be very difficult to have an employer make false accusations about you. This could impact your entire life’s career. Our attorneys are available on hand to take on your workplace defamation case.

What are the damages in a defamation lawsuit?

There are two different types of damages in a defamation lawsuit, which include actual and general damages. Actual damages are those that try to compensate the plaintiff for any type of financial losses suffered because of the defamation. Examples of actual damages include lost wages, decreased earning capacity, and lost future business opportunities.

General damages are those that could compensate the plaintiff for non-monetary harms that they have suffered. For example, common examples of general damages include pain and suffering, humiliation, emotional distress, disgrace, mental anguish, etc. This type of damage is determined by the judge or jury. That’s why it is very important to hire a skilled litigation attorney to fight hard for your case to make sure that you received maximum compensation for your injuries.

How much can you sue for in a defamation case?

Each defamation case varies, but in every circumstance a plaintiff has a harmed reputation and is trying to seek financial recovery. Hiring a firm with years of experience representing victims of defamation will give you the best chance of recovering the compensation you deserve. Our skilled defamation attorneys will happily review and evaluate your defamation case. Call us today.

Defamation cases could be complex and very difficult to prove. That is why you will need an experienced and aggressive personal injury attorney to guide you through every step of the legal process. Our skilled attorneys have offices located in every major city in California and Nevada, and are readily available to take your case. If you have suffered from any type of defamation, including workplace defamation, hire our attorneys today to protect your legal rights and recover damages. If you are planning to sue another party for defamation, you will have to have an experienced attorney and substantial evidence against the other party. Sometimes, defamation could be very difficult to prove, especially the injuries that have been suffered.

***Disclaimer: The content of this webpage, created by Heidari Law Group, is intended solely for educational purposes. While it endeavors to provide a general understanding of the law, it should not be construed as specific legal advice. Accessing and reading this site does not establish an attorney-client relationship with any member of Heidari Law. Furthermore, please be aware that the legal landscape is constantly evolving, potentially rendering some information outdated or inapplicable.

Sam Heidari

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