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The Basics of Libel, Defamation and Slander

When it comes to an individual’s basic human rights, there are a number of different factors one must consider – freeing them from possible damages. And while we generally consider personal injury damages to be in the form of a physical attack, accident or injury – in many cases, such damages can take the form of certain mental abuses and unwanted verbal assaults. According to Ms. Anissa Morris, of Spinner Law Firm, considered by many to be the best personal injury attorney Tampa has to offer, there is always a delicate balance between one person’s right to freedom of speech and another’s right to protect their good name. It is often difficult to know which personal remarks are proper and which run afoul of defamation law. The following provides an overview of defamation torts and defamation claims.

The Basics of Defamation Law

Before we can better understand how defamation law actually works, its important that we have a strong, all-encompassing definition of what it truly means, as many individuals will often confuse the terms with other legal faults that are often quite similar. According to Ms. Morris, the best personal injury attorney Tampa has in practice, the term “defamation” is an all-encompassing term that covers any statement that hurts someone’s reputation, also called defamation of character. If the statement is made in writing and published, the defamation is called “libel.” If the hurtful statement is spoken, the statement is “slander.” Defamation is considered to be a civil wrong or a tort. A person that has suffered a defamatory statement may sue the person that made the statement under defamation law, which would be called a defamation case. Often, individuals will commit acts of defamation and falsely call upon freedom of speech, as if it were a “get out of jail free card”.

The line separating defamation and freedom of speech is quite fine. In one respect, any reasonable individual should have free speech to talk about their experiences in a truthful manner without fear of a lawsuit if they say something mean, but true, about someone else. On the other hand, people have a right to not have false statements made that will damage their reputation. According to Ms. Morris, the best personal injury attorney Tampa has in practice, determining what is fact and what constitutes a lie is called “absolute defense” and will end the case once it is proven. The party that comes out victorious in such an argument may then file a claim for punitive damages.

Different Elements of a Defamation Lawsuit

While defamation cases are certainly different depending on what the party’s jurisdiction is, there are certain acceptable standards that stand true no matter where you are – according to the best injury lawyer Sarasota has to offer, Ms. Morris, this means that in order to prove your party’s case, and win the lawsuit, you must show the following:

· A statement was actually made – by the other party.

· That statement was published in some capacity.

· In some way, that statement caused you injury or damaged you.

· The statement in question was false.

· The statement itself did not fall into what is known as a “privileged category”.

Often, when it comes to the specific terms above, there can be some level of argument that might arise. And to prevent the possibility that there might be a discrepancy with the language that is used, Ms. Morris, the best injury lawyer Sarasota clients rely on for such claims, will provide us with the following definitions below.

· Statement – A statement that was made must be spoken (slander), written (libel), or otherwise expressed in some manner. Because the spoken word often fades more quickly from memory, slander is often considered less harmful than libel.

· Publication – If the statement was published, a third party must have seen, heard or read the defamatory statement. Unlike the traditional meaning of the word “published,” a defamatory statement does not need to be printed – it simply must have been dispersed in some manner where others could have easily seen it.

· Injury – Again, as per Ms. Morris, the best injury lawyer Sarasota has in practice, this does mean physical injury, but that the statement must have hurt the reputation of the person being spoken about.

· Falsity – True statements are considered defamation – and statements of opinion aren’t considered false either, as they are subjective. The statement must be an outright lie.

· Unprivileged – In order for a statement to be defamatory, it must be unprivileged. You cannot sue for defamation in certain instances when a statement is considered privileged. For example, when a witness testifies at trial and makes a statement that is both false and injurious, the witness will be immune to a lawsuit for defamation because the act of testifying at trial is privileged and not meant to be heard by everyone.

For more information on defamation law and other aspects of personal injury, be sure to contact SPINNER LAW FIRM today.


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