It's a free country, or so many declare — often in defense of doing something they claim to be right there in the Constitution. Unfortunately for those people, freedoms like the so-called freedom of speech are not as straightforward as you might think. You cannot say anything you want, and you can even be arrested and charged criminally for saying the wrong thing. You can also be owed money damages when someone says something that causes you harm. To find out more, read on.
Defamation: Slander and Libel
Defamation is the catchall term to describe a category of civil wrongs. When words damage a person's reputation and more, that may be defamation. When those words happen to be written, that is called libel. When those words are spoken, that is known as slander. To gain monetary compensation as a result of harm done to you, you must have a solid case against a person or entity.
Defamation and Legal Standards
A good course of action is a lawsuit that stands up to scrutiny. Otherwise, the case may be labeled frivolous and thrown out. If you've been harmed by the words of another, check out the below considerations and standards to evaluate your case.
- What did they say? Was it untrue? Only if you can prove that the words were untrue can you have a good defamation case.
- Did others hear or see the defamation? To have a case, the words must have been seen or heard by someone other than you and the defendant.
- Did you experience a loss? You should be prepared to show how your reputation, health, finances, etc were harmed by defamation.
Just Expressing My Opinion
You are allowed to have an opinion, but what is said and how matters a great deal. Words can hurt and the popularity of internet platforms and social media has provided a voice for millions in an unprecedented manner. Take a look a just a few situations that could cause a defamation lawsuit:
- A blog post expresses disgust at the sexual practices of a city official. The official sues citing harm to their reputation, career, and relationships.
- A restaurant reviewer claimed to have been sickened with food poisoning after eating at the restaurant. There was no proof the restaurant food caused the illness, no proof the person had food poisoning, and no one else was sickened.
- A buyer for a home backed out of the deal after speaking with a neighbor. It turns out that the neighbor falsely accused the homeowner of cooking meth in the home.
Don't let them get away with it. Speak with a personal injury lawyer near you about your case today.