One person’s right to freedom of speech and another’s right to protect his/her good name is often separated by only a slender dividing line. There is no clear cut demarcation between what constitutes a personal remark and what can fall foul of the defamation law.
File the Paperwork
Defamation is a very generic term which covers a range of statements which can damage another individual’s reputation. If such a statement is written and published it is called libel but if it is the spoken word it is slander. A defamatory statement under law is a civil offense and not criminal. The wronged person is entitled under defamation law to file a lawsuit against the person who defamed him/her.
Ever since defamation law was enacted in the United States it has been contested and open to interpretation. Under the constitution every individual has the right to free speech no matter how unpalatable it is to someone else. But equally so the law seeks to protect the reputation of an individual from publicly pronounced false statements damaging to it.
Defamation laws vary in different states but there are some elements which are common to all. If you feel you have been a victim of a defamatory statement either spoken or written, you can file a lawsuit to recover compensation for your wrongs. To win a defamation lawsuit you will have to prove that:
- A statement was made
- The statement was published
- The statement caused you harm
- The statement was untrue
- The statement was not privileged
A defamation lawsuit raises some very fine points of law which are generally outside the reach of normal individuals. The burden of proof rests with the plaintiff which is why it is necessary to retain the services of an injury attorney experienced in defamation law and one who has earlier represented people in libel and slander lawsuits.