Defamation of character is the legal term that describes when somebody’s reputation has been harmed by somebody else’s false statement. If the statement is made in print then it is called libel, and when it is made via the spoken word it is called slander. If you have been the victim of defamation, whether through the written or spoken work, you can suffer very real damages. Your professional or personal reputation is at stake, and one of the best ways that you can restore your good name and punish the person who made the false statement is to file a lawsuit to make it clear that what was said was a lie and to punish the person responsible. It is a libel lawyer’s job to file and prosecute a lawsuit for defamation of character.
Defamation of character may feel like a very clear cut issue for the person who has been written against, but there are certain legal requirements that must be proven in order for a libel lawyer to be able to successfully win your case. They will need to prove the following four points:
- That the defamation has been published
- That the statement(s) made are false
- That the statement was injurious
- That the statement was unprivileged
Each of these points is important in its own right, and are strong indications of the efforts that the court makes to protect both the right to free speech and the equally important rights of people not to have false statements made against them in a public way. The requirement that the statement was published means that it has to have been made in a public forum so that it was heard or read by other people. The statement must be provably false — this means that you can’t sue for libel if somebody writes an opinion about you, no matter how much you may be hurt by it. You must be able to show that the statement was injurious — this means that you have to be able to show that you lost friends, business, employment or were in some other substantive way hurt. Finally, the statement cannot have been made in a privileged setting such as in court.
If you are a public figure, it is important to understand that it will be more difficult for you to win a libel lawsuit than for somebody who is not in the public eye. The standard for libel and slander are higher for celebrities and public officials, who must not only prove that a statement was libelous, but also that it was made with actual malice.
Defamation law can be very complicated, and it is important that whether you’ve been the victim of libel or have been accused of making slanderous statements, you select an attorney with an expansive understanding of what protections the law offers. The Philadelphia law firm of Bochetto & Lentz has successfully represented both plaintiffs and defendants in notable libel cases, and will be able to provide you with the experienced legal counsel you need.
Read more about Libel here: