A Comprehensive Guide to Slander Lawsuit Requirements
Defamation is a serious civil tort and having your reputation slandered by someone cannot only affect you personally but also impact your finances and your professional work. Suing for slander can provide some remedy for the harm you may have been caused. This article will teach you everything you need to know about the requirements for a slander lawsuit.
Understanding Defamation and Slander
Defamation consists of false statements that harm someone’s reputation. It’s divided into two categories, slander and libel:
- Libel refers to a written false statement that has been harmful to someone. The statement must have been printed or published somewhere.
- Slander specifically pertains to spoken defamation- meaning that the statement was said out loud by someone and was heard and understood by a third party.
How Can I Actually Prove Slander Legally?
It is important to note that the laws for slander may vary slightly from state to state, but generally speaking, there are certain core elements that you must prove in any slander lawsuit. The following list explains them:
- Falsehood: You must prove that the person who made the defamatory statement did so knowing it was false. Furthermore, the statement itself must be objectively false, meaning that opinions do not count. For example, a Yelp review that states, “This is the worst doctor I have ever encountered”, would have no means of being measured and therefore could not be considered defamatory.
- Not privileged: Statements made within a certain context can be considered privileged. For example, if a witness makes a statement on trial or a lawmaker makes a statement within a court. These are exempt from having their words sued for defamation. The statement you wish to prove as slander must therefore have been made outside of these privileged situations.
- Negligence: The defamatory statement must have been spoken with negligence, this means that the person said it not caring whether it was true or not. They must also have said it without having looked at the facts.
Negligence only applies if the slander was directed to a private person. If you are a public figure you are required to prove malice instead. This means that the slanderous statement was said with full knowledge of its falsehood and with the intention to defame you.
- Proof of damages: It is necessary to prove that the slander cost you damages. This can mean that it hurt your job prospects or shunned you from your community.
- Spoken to a third party: The statement must’ve been published. In court “published” does not necessarily mean written in print, instead, this is defined as having been heard or seen by a third party and understood.
Determining Damages: Learning to Seek the Perfect Compensation
The evidence you’ll provide at court depends greatly upon the kind of damages you want to pursue. These are the kinds of damages pursued in a defamation case:
- Punitive - Involves proving malice or fraud, punishes particularly grave levels of slander.
- Presumed - The damages assumed by the court to be associated with an evidently defamatory statement (such as loss of reputation). This type of damage does not need to be proved in court.
- Actual - These are meant to accurately restore you to the condition (financial or otherwise) which you would’ve had if you had not been slandered. They can also roughly compensate for things such as distress, shame, and anguish.
Is There a Way to Avoid a Lawsuit?
There are several reasons why going for a slander lawsuit may not be your best option. Not only can lawsuits take up time and energy, but they also require legal counsel and can be expensive. Why not send a cease and desist letter prior to resorting to an actual lawsuit?
This table explains how a cease and desist letter works and how it can help you:
|What exactly is a cease-and-desist letter when it comes to defamation of character?||A cease and desist letter of defamation is a legal document you can send to the person who has defamed you. It presents the statement you have found to be defamatory to your reputation and explains how it has caused damages to you.|
|How can it help you after you have been slandered?||Besides expressing your discontent, the letter can also request that the person desist from making any more slanderous statements in regards to you, and explain the consequences of not complying with this demand (filing a lawsuit and taking them to court.)|
Write a Defamation Cease and Desist Letter in Minutes!
We know that it can be intimidating to write a cease and desist letter for any situation, particularly when you consider that it could make or break your request to stop the defamation.
The good news is that DoNotPay can help you draft a personalized cease and desist letter quickly and conveniently, here’s how it works:
1. Select the Defamation Demand Letters product on the DoNotPay site.
2. Choose whether you’re fighting against libel or slander.
3. Briefly explain the defamation issue you wish to resolve, as well as any details that you think might be relevant about the case- be as specific as possible.
DoNotPay will be able to draft a formal cease and desist defamation letter based on all the relevant defamation laws of your state!
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