Defamation is one of the most threatened lawsuits in the United States. It’s also a very most misunderstood tort. While it’s true that it is tougher to win a slander or libel lawsuit in the United States than in other countries, many plaintiffs do emerge victorious – even plaintiffs who aren’t named directly by their accuser.
The First Amendment Makes Winning Defamation Lawsuits Difficult, But Not Impossible
Thanks to the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, defamation laws in the U.S. are decidedly defendant-friendly. Unless a statement is blatantly false, and has a deleterious effect on a person’s or entity’s reputation, it’s tough to prove defamation – but it’s not impossible.
You Can Be Sued For Slander Even If You Don’t Use The Person’s Name
Our nation’s free speech rights erroneously lead some people to believe they’re legally untouchable when it comes to smack talking and divulging others’ secrets online. For example, many believe that if you don’t use your target’s actual name then you can’t be prosecuted.
That is not necessarily true. So long as another individual can figure out the person being described, then it’s possible to be sued for defamation. For example, let’s say you make a YouTube video about “a female talk show host, who now has her own television station, and recently interviewed Lance Armstrong said [insert disparaging comment here]” – expect Oprah Winfrey to sue you. Moreover, expect her to win if (a) what you said was false, (b) you knew it was false and did it anyway, and (c) the statements caused “O” reputational or financial harm.
Even If You Can’t Be Sued For Slander, You Could Be Sued For Something Else
Let’s say, however, that the information you posted is true. While you would definitely have a stronger defense, it is not a given that you will escape legal censure. Other charges – like false light or various publicity and privacy torts – can be used to go after “truth defamers.”
One Can’t Be Sued For Slander If The SOL Has Expired
The important thing to remember, though, is that there is a statute of limitations for defamation. If the incident occurred many moons ago, the chances of you being granted a hearing are between slim and none. Check here to see if list of limitation statutes in each state.
Are you dealing with a slander or libel issue? Kelly Warner Law has experienced great success with various types of defamation lawsuits. If you are looking to sue for slander, or are being sued for slander, get in touch. Our team of defamation attorneys will provide superb counsel and help you through the process.