Have You Been Defamed?
Defamation is the act of making an untrue statement that causes harm to another individual that results in that person suffering damages. There are essentially two different forms of defamation that you have probably heard about, but you may not know the distinction. If someone was to make a false claim about you verbally to another party or parties, this person could be guilty of slander.
Libel is defamation that is in written form that has been published in some form of fixed media. Traditionally, magazines and newspapers would be the media that could be used to commit acts of libel. Now that everyone is plugged into social media, there can be libel committed online through social platforms, blogs, and other publications.
When it comes to the stipulation that damages must have been suffered, here in the state of California, there is a legal concept called “defamation per se.” If some act of defamation can be proven, there would be the presumption that there were damages to the victim. Because of this legal viewpoint, the plaintiff would not have to show hard proof of actual damages.
This can sound unfair on the surface, but if you think it through, it does make sense. To provide an example, let’s say that someone makes a statement to a group of influential people saying that you are a violent alcoholic. The word gets around, and you know that some people view you differently, but there have been no overt consequences that can be proven. It is indeed fair to assume that such a statement would cause damage, even if it cannot be easily proven.
Before the Internet was “a thing,” it was not easy to commit acts of defamation that could really have a wide reaching impact. Yes, high-profile individuals could potentially make claims through the media or a public appearance, but a platform to speak to an audience was not available to most people.
Now, anyone and everyone can type anything they want to on Twitter or Facebook. No one has time to take up this type of research, but it is logical to assume that there are acts of defamation perpetrated on the Internet constantly from one direction or another.
The matter of suing someone for defamation that took place online is complicated. State laws will come into play, and California laws may not be the only applicable statutes. With online defamation, the perpetrator can reside anywhere in the world, so the laws of other states or countries could enter the picture.
We should be clear about the fact that saying or writing something that damages another party is not necessarily an act of defamation. If it is absolutely true, and the claim can be proven, no one is being defamed in the eyes of the law.
The Importance of Legal Counsel
People say bad things about one another all the time. Some of them are true, some of them are false, and sometimes the statements have shreds of truth. There is also the matter of opinion versus statement of fact. Getting back for example, if someone says that he thinks that you may be a violent alcoholic, but he does not claim to have proof, that is not defamation.
Defamation is very complicated, and you must have a thorough understanding of relevant California laws to advise clients on these matters. There are many factors that come into play, including the status of the individuals involved. The laws specifically address defamation as it applies to public officials, public figures, limited public figures, and private persons.
Without question, there are usually shades of gray when it comes defamation, and this is why legal counsel is so very important. If you come into our office for a consultation, we can sit down with you, gain an understanding of the situation, and make the appropriate recommendations.
One thing that we bring to the table is our understanding of precedents when it comes to defamation cases. Plus, we can do additional research with regard to precedents when it is necessary. In this manner, we can gather the ammunition that we need to push your case forward if you are making a valid contention.
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If you are ready to discuss your defamation case with a member of our team, send us a message through our contact page to request an appointment or call us at 714-406-4434.