Defamation of character claims is on the rise especially after the mass spread of internet. The easily available connectivity provided by internet and the ease to reach millions from the comforts of home has increased the instances of defamation cases.
Another aspect that facilitates the perpetrators is that they can easily mask their identities on internet while defaming an individual and organization. If you are a victim and considering filing a defamation of character claim, then it becomes important to learn about proving the defamation of character claims.
What is Defamation of Character?
When a false statement about an individual is used either in writing or orally with the intent of causing harm to their reputation, then it’s called defamation of character. The false statement may cause an individual the emotional and financial damages. Proving the defamation of character claims in court is challenging, so gaining the knowledge related to the claim becomes important.
Types of Defamation
The defamation of character can be of following two types
- Slander – When a false statement is made verbally about an individual then it’s known as Slander.
- Libel – When the false statement about an individual is either written or published then it’s known as Libel.
Grounds of Defamation of Character Claim
To successfully fight a defamation of character claim the injured party needs to prove the following:
- The statement was published – It means that the false statement was heard or read by a third party other than the person making the statement and the injured party.
- The statement is false – To prove a defamation, the statements need to be proved as objectively false else it’s not defamatory.
- The statement was a cause of damage or harm – The primary objective of the defamation of character claim is taking care of damages to the reputation, the plaintiff will have to show how their reputation was damaged by the statement. The damage could be financial, emotional, or mental such as loss of job or business, being shunned by neighbors and relatives.
- The statement should be unprivileged – Certain instances are covered under the law as privileged and they cannot be used as the basis of defamation irrespective of the damages caused. For example, the statements made while testifying or acting as a juror are privileged.
The public officials and figures also have to prove that the statement was made with actual malice. Actual malice is when the individual issuing the statement knew the statement to be false or they didn’t care whether the statement was true or not and were reckless with the truth.
While filing the defamation of character claims, the most difficult part is proving actual harm to reputation since the claim is only valid when there is actual harm to your reputation. The potential of harm is not considered by the courts.
The best course of action, while thinking about a defamation of character claim is hiring a specialist attorney to determine whether there are grounds for a court case and subsequent representation in the court. An attorney is also helpful in defamation cases related to internet and is instrumental in helping you in the removal of the damaging content from the websites and identifying the perpetrators.