Slander, libel, and defamation are terms that are often confused with each other. All of these terms refer to falsely devaluing someone’s character, and they all fall into the same area of the law. However, slander and libel are types of defamation. Victims of defamation can file a civil claim to recover damages they sustained, and there are legal defenses available for individuals that have been wrongly accused as well.
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Defamation, Slander & Libel Explained
Defamation occurs when a person makes a false statement about someone else, presents that statement as a fact, and the false claim damages someone’s character. Defamation is more than hurt feelings; it is a statement that damages a person’s reputation. For example, saying that someone stole money from their boss is considered defamation if the statement is untrue. That statement may prevent the accused person from finding a job in the future.
Defamation is a broad term for defaming someone’s character. Libel is more specific type of defamation and occurs when an untrue statement is made in writing. For example, posting an untrue statement that damages a person’s reputation on the Internet is considered libel. Slander is also a specific type of defamation, occurring when a false statement is made orally.
The Sedition Act of 1978 refers to seditious libel, which is making untrue statements about government entities. Although this Act made making those untrue statements a crime, most cases of slander, libel, and defamation are litigated in civil court. In these courts, anyone who has suffered losses as a result of the act can file a lawsuit to recover damages for the defamatory act.
Recovering Damages for Defamation
Slander, libel, and other defamatory acts can cause great harm to a person. A person may lose their income, may be unable to obtain a job, and they may also experience humiliation, shame, and anxiety. Damages that have an actual dollar value, such as the income a person lost as a result of the defamation, are considered economic damages. Although damages such as anxiety and shame do not have a concrete value, the courts recognize that these are still losses and that victims of defamatory acts deserve monetary compensation for them.
The truth is the best defense in defamation cases. In order for a defamation lawsuit to be successful, the statement made must have been false. The defendant (the person being accused of defamation) must have knowingly made a false statement. The statement must have also been presented as fact. Simply stating an opinion is not considered defamation in most cases.
Get Legal Help Today
Defamation can cause great harm to a person or business. When that is the case, it is possible to recover damages for any losses sustained. However, not all accusations of defamation are justified. If you feel as though you have been defamed or someone is wrongfully accusing you of defamation, the defamation attorneys at Beth Santilli Law, LLC can help. Contact us today to request a consultation regarding your case.