» What is Defamation of Character?

and suing for defamation per se or defamation of character

In discussing character defamation, one must first have a clear understanding of what the term means. Defamation can be defined as any intentional communication that is false, be it spoken or written, that can harm the reputation of the person to whom it refers. It may also decrease the regard, respect or even the level of confidence in which the person referenced is held. Defamation can also induce feelings of hostility against a person or disagreeable feelings or opinions in regards to the person referenced.

The simple way to explain what constitutes defamation of character is that a claim or statement must have been made to someone other than the person being defamed and the claim or statement must be false.

Victims of defamation should highly consider bringing a defamation lawsuit with the help of a defamation lawyer.

Defamation of Character at Work

Defamation of character in the workplace can be extremely rough. In the workplace, this takes the form of harming the character, career or reputation of an employee either former or current and it is caused directly by an act or false statement of a representative of the employer or the employer him/herself.

Many times, after an employee has been terminated they make allegations of workplace libel or employment slander. This is also prevalent after background checks with former employers are performed. Libel is when the defamation is in written form and slander is the verbal form.

In the case of defamation of character at work, name-calling, wisecracks, water cooler rumors and honest, personal opinions do not constitute any type of defamation.

Suing for Defamation of Character

If you are contemplating a lawsuit for defamation of character then there are some things that need to be done. Winning a case like this for slander is difficult. Libel is more easily proven and you will have a better chance with a case regarding libel than what you would with slander.

Anytime you are the plaintiff in any type of case, the burden of proof lies with you. You have to be able to show that not only was it the defendant who made the statements, but also that the statements were false and that they did in fact harm you in one fashion or another. The statements also must have been made in hearing or sight (in case of libel) of parties other than yourself and the defendant.

Once you have all of that, you need to seek out legal assistance. You could file this yourself but an actual attorney will know the procedures better and can do a much better job presenting your case than what you alone can do. An attorney will also be able to tell you whether or not this is worth pursuing and if it is, how much you may be able to make a claim for.

He or she will also make sure that you understand each and every step of the process and take care of the confusing legalese and paperwork that is inevitably involved.

An attorney may advise you that you do indeed have a suit. If so, he will file the appropriate papers as soon as you pay the fees. Then, the defendant will be served and they will be given a period of time in which they must respond.

It may be that your attorney will be able to negotiate a settlement out of court. If not, you will have to appear in court either by a jury trial or a bench trial.

There are times when a defamation of character case can be extremely lucrative. For example, in a case regarding defamation of character, Florida awarded $11 million to one person in 2006. This just goes to show how costly it can be to defame someone’s character.

Statutes of Limitations

Each state has there own statute of limitations for suing for defamation of character. For example, if you or someone you know may think that you have a case for defamation of character Arizona and Georgia both have a statute of limitations on this of a year so you should see an attorney as soon as possible. However, in Florida, the statute of limitations is 2 years.

If you think that you may have a case, check the laws in your state so that you know what kind of time frame you are dealing with. Also, speak to an attorney as soon as possible because sometimes various states also have a time frame for filing certain legal documents before the cases are heard.

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Posted on Feb 3, 2014

About the Author

Lane Houk is a recognized internet marketing and reputation expert. Lane regularly speaks to business owners of all types about online reputation management and marketing and why it is imperative for professionals and companies to pro-actively manage their online reputation and take immediate steps if/when someone posts a negative review or worse, lies, about you or your company online. Online defamation can have devastating effects on your business and your professional career.

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