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Can You Sue for Slander?

Can You Sue for Slander?

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Can You Sue for Slander?

Your reputation, career, and home life could be in peril when someone spreads false and damaging information about you or your business. However, nobody has the right to ruin your reputation carelessly or maliciously. If you have been the victim of slander and incurred damages as a result, you could sue for defamation.  

If you or your business has been affected by slander, our experienced defamation attorneys can be by your side and fight to preserve your good name. You could also receive a settlement for damages such as financial losses and emotional distress. Contact us today to find out for free whether you can sue for slander.  

What Qualifies as Slander?

Slander is a type of defamation that occurs when someone makes a false or reckless verbal statement designed to tarnish a third party’s reputation. To have a case, a third party must have been present or overheard the slanderous statement. You would not have a case to sue, for example, if another person made a false statement about you while you were alone with them. While anyone can potentially commit slander, former employees or business competitors are often sources of defamatory statements.

What Is Slander Per Se?

When it comes to collecting compensation for slander, the person bringing the suit (the plaintiff) generally has to prove their damages. However, in the case of “slander per se”, the defamatory statements are considered inherently ruinous to the plaintiff’s reputation. Therefore, a plaintiff generally does not need to prove their damages if they are a victim of slander per se. 

Which Statements Qualify for Slander Per Se?

According to the Legal Information Institute (LII), the following can constitute slander per se:

  1. False and detrimental statements relating to the person's business or profession 
  2. False claims that the individual committed a crime of moral turpitude
  3. Falsely accusing the person of unchastity and sexual misconduct
  4. Claiming that the individual suffers from a loathsome disease (generally applied to STDs).

If you or your business has been affected by slander or slander per se, consult with a defamation attorney as soon as possible. False, malicious, or misleading statements about you can cause irreversible damage. The sooner you pursue justice and clear your name, the sooner you can move on with your life and career. 

The Difference Between Slander and Libel

Slander and libel are two types of defamation. Both refer to the spreading of false information harming the reputation of a business, individual, or group. However, while libel involves the written word, slander refers to verbal defamatory statements. 

Libel can occur through various written media such as newspapers, blog posts, social media posts, and other publications. Slander can be committed through any type of verbal communication, whether during a television program, phone call, or in-person. Since libel deals with the written word, it can be easier to prove than slander.

Proving Slander

If you are wondering whether you can sue for slander and recover damages, consider that you would generally have to prove the following to have a case:

1. Someone Made a Defamatory Statement to a Third Party

A defamatory statement generally refers to any communication that significantly harms your reputation and deters others from associating or doing business with you. 

2. The Statement Is Not Privileged

You would not be able to sue if the statement in question was made under privilege, for example, in the following situations:

  • Witnesses testifying in court
  • Statements made between clients and their attorneys 
  • Comments made between spouses
  • Legislators discussing the information during debates

3. The Slanderous Statement Is False

To have a case for defamation, the statement made against you must be false, and the defendant acted negligently or maliciously in making the slanderous comments. A true statement, even if it significantly taints your reputation, does not qualify as defamation. Likewise, someone expressing an opinion that could damage your reputation is typically not considered slander. 

4. The Statement Is “Published”

In this instance, “published” includes verbal defamatory statements as long as the slanderous statement was communicated to a third person or persons. A conversation between two individuals that others could overhear can potentially also qualify for a slander lawsuit.

5. You Suffered Harm

Unless the damaging statement qualifies as slander per se, you have to show that you were harmed emotionally, financially, or in other ways. Examples of harm caused by slander can include:

  • Losing your job
  • Suffering shame and humiliation 
  • Getting harassed by the media
  • Failing relationships with family and friends
  • Losing business revenue

Do You Have a Case for Slander? 

If you are hoping to bring a slander lawsuit, the burden of proof will be on you. Plaintiffs generally have to show that they suffered tangible harm due to another’s deliberate or negligent actions. You have to prove that the defendant intended to harm or had a motive and that you personally or your business suffered damages. 

Being a victim of slander can be upsetting. Having to deal with the fallout from a ruined reputation is often an overwhelming task for victims. If you are looking to clear your name, our defamation attorneys can help. In the first instance, we could determine whether you have a case. We can then help you navigate the legal system and file a lawsuit on your behalf. 

Damages for Slander

If you suffered injury and losses due to a slanderous statement, you could qualify for damages, including but not limited to:

  • Lost earnings or lost business opportunities
  • Future lost earning capacity
  • Costs to find new employment
  • Medical bills for mental or physical health treatments
  • Lost benefits such as health insurance, vacation time, and pension contributions
  • Mental anguish
  • Humiliation
  • Punitive damages

Monetary losses can be documented, for example, with bank statements, tax returns, and receipts. If you are looking to prove lost business revenue, you might need expert witnesses’ help to assess the financial impact of slander. Proving humiliation and emotional distress can be tricky in slander lawsuits. However, victims can use documentary evidence, third-party reports, and expert witness testimony to prove these types of non-economic damages. 

An attorney can assess your damages after another individual attempts to destroy your reputation. Morgan & Morgan’s tenacious slander lawyers can leave no stone unturned in fighting for the compensation you need to rebuild your life after an attempted character assassination. 

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FAQ

Morgan & Morgan

  • How Do I File a Slander Lawsuit?

    Suing for slander is similar to filing other lawsuits and generally includes the following steps: 

    • Filing a complaint
    • Serving the defendant with the complaint
    • Discovery process (examining evidence and exchanging information)
    • Settlement negotiations

    When settlement negotiations fail, your slander case could go through the court system and eventually to trial. An attorney from our law firm can help you with all aspects of a slander lawsuit. 

  • Is it Difficult to Sue for Slander?

    Suing for slander can be challenging as, unlike libel, slander is verbal defamation and can be tough to prove. Claimants also have to prove that the individual committing slander was deliberately or negligently untruthful. If you are a public figure or official, you face the additional hurdle of proving that malice was involved in the slander. 

    Slander claims can be tricky and complex. Consider consulting with an attorney experienced in handling defamation lawsuits who can advise you on bringing a slander lawsuit. 

  • Can I Sue for Slander at Work?

    Slander frequently arises in workplace situations. Employers can become victims of defamation if a current or former employee deliberately spreads untrue statements ruining their reputation. On the flip side, an employer could also be liable for defamation if they maliciously spread slanderous statements about a former or current employee. 

    You could potentially have a case against a former employer or coworker if they willingly spread false information about you. For example, if an employer falsely accuses you of theft, you could have a case against them. However, a former employer’s statement must be factual rather than an opinion to have a legal case. For example, you generally cannot sue a former employer for expressing an opinion about your work performance.

  • How Much Does Suing for Slander Cost?

    Lawyers and law firms set their own fees. Most defamation attorneys take on slander lawsuits on contingency, meaning they do not charge any attorney’s fees unless they win the case. However, some defamation attorneys charge by the hour while others charge clients large retainers before they even begin to work on a case. Therefore, before agreeing to work with an attorney, you should discuss their fee structure so you can make an informed decision.

    Morgan & Morgan’s defamation lawyers do not charge you a dime upfront, so you will not have to worry about taking financial risks or incurring out-of-pocket expenses. We only get paid if and when we win. 

  • What Are My Next Best Steps After Experiencing Slander?

    If you are a victim of slander, make sure to record all the details and collect evidence as soon as possible. Your next best steps can include:

    • Making a note of the time and date of the incident
    • Note the name of the person who committed the slanderous act
    • Write down the names and contact details of any witnesses
    • Collect proof of your damages 
    • Contact a defamation lawyer as soon as possible

    Unfortunately, since slander is a verbal act, it can be tough to prove another’s wrongdoing. Therefore, identifying potential witnesses can be crucial for the outcome of your case. A defamation attorney at Morgan & Morgan can help you seek justice.

  • What Are Punitive Damages in a Slander Lawsuit?

    Punitive damages are generally uncommon. However, if a defendant maliciously or fraudulently spread damaging and false information about your or your business, you could receive punitive damages in addition to compensation. Punitive damages are awarded by a court and designed to punish the defendant for particularly egregious conduct as well as acting as a deterrent.

  • How Long Do I Have to File a Slander Lawsuit?

    Whether you can sue for slander will depend partly on how long ago the damage to your reputation happened. The deadlines for filing suit vary from one state to another. If you are unsure whether you still qualify for filing legal action or would like to find out how much time you have for suing, contact a defamation lawyer as soon as you can. Filing a lawsuit too late could prevent you from recovering any damages as a court might throw out your case.

  • Is Slander Considered a Personal Injury?

    Although slander generally does not cause physical injuries to the victim, it is considered a personal injury case. The “injury” from slander includes tainting a person’s good name and reputation rather than causing physical harm. Nevertheless, a tarnished reputation can have devastating consequences on the lives of victims, causing emotional distress and financial hardship, similar to other personal injuries.

  • Is Slander a Crime?

    Although slander can have serious consequences, it is generally not considered a crime but a tort (civil wrongdoing). Slander cases are, therefore, addressed in civil rather than in criminal court.

  • How Can an Attorney Help Me With a Slander Lawsuit?

    Our defamation attorneys can help you with all aspects of suing for slander and handle your lawsuit from beginning to end. We can:

    • Assess your case and determine whether you can sue for slander
    • Gather the evidence needed to prove your case
    • Negotiate for a full and fair settlement on your behalf
    • Fight vigorously to clear your name in the courtroom, if necessary
    • Work for you on a “no-win-no-fee” basis

    Slander lawsuits can be challenging. Morgan & Morgan’s experienced and dedicated defamation attorneys can protect your legal rights, fight for what you deserve, and give you peace of mind.

  • Morgan & Morgan Can Help You Fight Back 

    Do not let another’s careless or malicious attempt to tarnish your reputation ruin your personal and business life. Morgan & Morgan can help you fight back, clear your name, and pursue the damages you deserve. When your future success and happiness is on the line, you can put your trust in our expertise, resources, and decades of experience.

    Our experienced defamation lawyers have helped countless clients clear their names and receive damages. Contact us now to find out if we can help you too.

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