Defenses to Libel and Slander Lawyers
What Are Libel and Slander?
Libel and slander are the two main types of defamation, which is the making of false statements about another person or business that causes injury. Libel includes statements made in a printed publication and slander includes spoken statements. Because of the First Amendment rights of free speech, it can be much more difficult to win a slander or libel case in the United States than in many other countries.
What Are the Defenses to a Charge of Defamation?
There are several defenses that prevent liability for slander or libel.
- Truth - If the statement made is true, there can be no claim for libel or slander. In many courts, a reasonable belief that the statement is true will also be a successful defense, though different courts will require higher degrees of care when determining whether a statement is true.
- Opinion - A statement made as an opinion cannot be considered defamation in most places as long as it is not presented as a fact.
- Privilege - Statements made in court by witnesses, attorneys, or judges and statements made during many government proceedings are usually considered privileged and cannot be subject to defamation claims.
- No actual harm - A defendant could also argue that the statement did not actually harm the person. Harm is part of the definition of defamation, so if the person's reputation is not harmed there is no slander or libel. For example, a false statement that is clearly ridiculous and believed by no one cannot provide a recovery for defamation.
Public figures bringing lawsuits for slander or libel must establish that the statement was made with knowledge that it was false or with a reckless disregard for the truth. This creates a higher standard of proof for public figures. It is because of this requirement for public figures that most defamation cases in the United States involve normal local stories and not high profile stories.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
If you think that you have been a victim of libel or slander, an experienced attorney can advise you of your rights under the law and help you with the often difficult process of filing a lawsuit. If you have been charged with libel or slander, an attorney can help you determine any defenses that might be applicable. An attorney can also represent you in court.
Consult a Lawyer - Present Your Case Now!
Last Modified: 03-19-2010 03:08 PM PDT
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