Slander Laws in Alabama
Alabama considers any false, public, and negligent speech that degrades or damages a person’s reputation to be defamatory. Defamation has two core types, libel, and slander. Libel refers to written defamatory remarks, whereas slander refers to spoken defamatory remarks. Since written statements leave a permanent record and last longer, most courts find libel more harmful than slander.
Each state has its own defamation laws. In Alabama, for a statement to be considered defamatory, the following must be true:
- The statement is false
- The statement was published, such that a third party saw or heard it
- The statement caused injury to a person’s reputation
- The statements are unprivileged, such that it is not protected by the laws of the first amendment
- The statement is presented as a fact
Alabama Laws for Defamation of Public Figures
Alabama considers public figures to be everyone who works for - or on behalf of - the government. Plaintiffs who are public figures are required to prove malice. Malice is when a person intentionally lies to harm another person.
For example, if a politician owns a restaurant and the competitor spreads false rumors that damage the reputation of that politician such that he loses office, the politician can sue the competitor. However, he needs to prove the actual malice committed by the competitor since he is a public figure. However, if his political position is unaffected by the slander or libel committed, and only his business is harmed, then he will be treated as a businessman and not a public figure, and does not have to prove malice.
Alabama Rules for Retraction of Defamatory Statements
In Alabama, defendants in defamation of character cases are given exactly 10 days from when they published the defamatory statement to retract it. It must also be revoked on the same medium of communication as the original statement. if for example it was initially published on Twitter, then it must be retracted from Twitter. If the retraction is made within this given timeframe, then the plaintiff can only recover actual damages and not punitive damages.
Defamation Per Se
There are certain statements that are so harmful and damaging to the reputation, that the plaintiff does not have to prove material damages in order to succeed in the case. The following table outlines the categories of defamation per se statements:
|Allegations of criminal conduct||If someone claims that a person has committed a crime when he hasn’t, then it is defamation per se.|
|Allegations of a loathsome disease||Claims of sexually transmitted diseases are defamation per se.|
|Allegations that the plaintiff is unfit for work||Stating that a person is incompetent in his profession is defamation per se.|
|Allegations of unchastity||False claims about chastity are defamation per se.|
Defamation per se applies to any claims, regardless of whether they were written (libel) or spoken (slander). In these situations, there is no need for plaintiffs to prove monetary losses because these claims are inherently defamatory.
Defamation Damages in Alabama
Defamation damages allowed in Alabama include:
- Punitive Damages (only if the plaintiff proves that the defendant acted recklessly, maliciously, or negligently.)
- Compensatory Damages
- Case-Specific Damages Awarded at the Court’s Discretion
Defamation Statute of Limitation
The defamation statute of limitations in Alabama is two years. This means that the plaintiff has two years to file a defamation complaint from when the defamatory statement was published. If the statute of limitation of the statement expires, then the defendant is no longer liable and the plaintiff will not succeed in his case.
The statute of limitation of defamation varies between states, it usually lies between one to three years. You must familiarize yourself with the statute of limitations of your state. Here are a few examples:
- Virginia: one year
- Michigan: one year
- Texas: one year
- Florida: two years
- Massachusetts: three years
DoNotPay Can Draft You a Cease and Desist Letter!
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1. Select the Defamation Demand Letters product on DoNotPay.
2. Provide details of the defamation:
- The exact defamatory statement
- Who it was said or written by
- Why it’s false
- The damages you incurred
- The state the defamation took place in - in this case, Alabama
And that is all you need to do! DoNotPay will have your cease and desist ready in seconds, containing all the relevant information and appropriate state laws to back your case.
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