Being defamed is a downer. It can bar you from employment or kill your business’ bottom line. When disparagement strikes, your immediate reaction may be to sue, Sue, SUE, darn it! Before you step into the litigation ring, though, take time to consider whether or not filing a defamation lawsuit is the best option in your situation.
U.S. Defamation 101: Proof of Harm Needed
The United States has the most defendant-friendly defamation laws in the Western world. As such, In order to win a defamation case, a plaintiff must prove actual material loss, not just hurt feelings. If you’re a business filing a trade libel lawsuit, the most convincing evidence is bank records showing significant loss directly correlated to the date of the defamatory incident. If you are filing a personal defamation lawsuit, different levels of proof will be required depending on the specifics of your case.
Other factors are weighed when deliberating defamation lawsuits, but proving actual damage is perhaps the most important, save for when the charge is defamation per se.
If the Person Isn’t Lying, Tread Carefully
Perhaps the most important thing to remember about slander and libel is succinctly summed up in the adage, “It isn’t defamation if it’s true” – especially in the United States. If a defendant can provide a preponderance of evidence that the statements in question are 100% true, 9 times out of ten they will win the case. So, before rage consumes your sensibilities, be honest with yourself before moving forward with a slander or libel lawsuit.
Sometimes Bad Publicity is Just That, Bad Publicity
Shouting “SLANDERER” from the roof tops belies the belief that “any publicity is good publicity.” Because sometimes publicizing a tale of defamation woe only ends up biting the plaintiff in the butt. After all, gossip is too juicy for some people not to believe. So, before you get loud about a situation, be sure to read as much as possible about defamation law to determine if you have a solid case. If you’re unsure, consult an attorney that specializes in slander and libel law. Your best bet is to find one that doesn’t discuss their cases online or announce every new client with a press release. For when it comes to defamation lawsuits, discretion is of the utmost importance in most cases.
Now, exceptions exist for nearly every rule. In some rare cases, making a big stink over a defamation lawsuit can benefit the plaintiff, and, if done correctly, can be an effective way to clear one’s name publicly.
If someone has legitimately defamed you, by all means, sue. Just remember to weigh all the facts carefully before embarking down litigation lane.
Are you considering filing a defamation lawsuit? To learn more about slander and libel law, go here and here. If you want to speak with a defamation lawyer, with an impressive win record, go here. If you want to know more about international defamation law, check out the Kelly Warner International Defamation Law Database.