Can You Sue Someone for Slander?
The simple answer to whether you can sue someone for slander is yes. However, you need to make sure that your slander lawsuit fulfills legal elements to have a legitimate claim. In this article, we will go through the legal grounds that constitute slander and the step-by-step process of how to file a lawsuit.
What Is Defamation of Character?
Defamation of character is a wrongful act where someone publishes a false statement that would directly cause an injury to the reputation of another. It is commonly civil tort although some states may litigate defamation criminally, punishable by fines or imprisonment. In defamation lawsuits, it usually is a tug-of-war between the defendant's right to free speech and the plaintiff’s reputation interest. There are two forms of defamation as follows:
- Libel – this is when the false statement is published through written forms e.g. blog articles, magazines, newspapers, company newsletters, etc.
- Slander – this is when the false statement is published verbally e.g. radio or television shows, overheard in a conversation, etc.
How to Prove Slander
With the advent of the internet, the line between libel and slander has blurred significantly. When it comes to online defamation, courts and juries will judge based on the longevity of the false statement. For example, although an ephemeral picture message on Snapchat is written, because of their temporary nature, they behave more like an oral statement. Despite the differences, the key elements to establish a lawsuit is the same, as follows:
|The statement is false.||The court needs to be able to prove that the statement is objectively false, which means opinions cannot be considered defamatory.|
|The statement is published.||Someone must have heard, watched, seen, or read the statement.|
|The statement is without privilege.||This means that some situations will not be considered defamation such as witnesses testifying in court, legislators during legislative debate, or statements between spouses.|
|The statement is harmful.||You need to be able to prove that the spoken or written statement is the direct cause of an injury to reputation or a business’s financial loss.|
How to Sue Someone for Slander
When it comes to suing for slander, your biggest challenges will be proving damages and that the statement was unprivileged and defamatory. When you have satisfied these two conditions, then you have a legitimate claim. The filing process when suing for slander is similar as with most lawsuits are as follows:
- Know your state's Code of Civil Procedure and the local court’s rules. If you have a federal claim, then you must research the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
- Establish personal jurisdiction which is typically wherever the damages of the slanderous statement are suffered.
- Identify the appropriate court in which to file your slander case. (Note: This can be difficult in cases of online defamation.)
- Write up the draft of the complaint and include statements of facts.
- Serve the defendant correctly by using a registered process server.
- Allow the defendants some time to file a response.
After filing the lawsuit, the discovery process ensues. Both parties will then come into a settlement outside of court. And if the parties do not settle, the case will proceed to trial.
Should You Write a Defamation Cease and Desist Letter?
A cease and desist letter is an initial warning to the recipient that you wish them to stop engaging in harmful activities, otherwise, legal action will be taken. It is different from a cease and desist order where the letter does not have legal weight and cannot be compellingly enforced. There are several cease and desist letter templates that you can download and fill up online. You can also hire a legal expert to draw one up for you. However, if you choose to write your own cease and desist letter, there are considerations to take such as:
- Take a soft-handed approach when writing the letter so it is not too aggressive but not too lax either.
- Avoid making empty threats that you may not be able to follow through.
- Have a clear reason for sending the cease and desist letter.
- Use precise language when indicating which offensive behavior you wish to be stopped and what the legal consequences will be.
- Include case laws or legal consequences to strengthen your letter.
Get a Cease and Desist Letter from DoNotPay
The best way to ensure the accuracy and effectiveness of your cease and desist letter is to hire a lawyer to review it before sending it. However, this also comes with mounting costs and high fees. That is where DoNotPay can help. We are the world's first robot lawyer and we can help you draw up defamation cease and desist letters without the need to worry about technicalities or expenses. All you have to do is:
1. Search for Defamation Demand Letters on DoNotPay.
2. Tell us about your situation, including whether the statements were libel or slander, listing the statements that were made, explaining why they are false or misleading, and what consequences you have suffered as a result.
3. Based on your location, DoNotPay will generate a formal demand letter on your behalf with the most relevant state legislation regarding defamation.
That’s it! A little information from you and your letter is ready to send!
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