How to File a Slander Lawsuit in California

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How to File a Slander Lawsuit in California

Your good name, income, and private life could be on the line when someone spreads false and malicious information about you or your business. However, if you suffered financial losses and reputation damage due to another spreading damaging and untrue comments about you on social media or elsewhere, you could have legal recourse. 

If you have recently been impacted by slander, you might wonder how to file a slander lawsuit in California. Morgan & Morgan is here for you during this upsetting time. Our defamation lawyers could help restore your reputation and collect damages for any losses you suffered as a result of slander. You could be entitled to income loss, lost business revenue, awards for humiliation and emotional distress, and other damages.
Contact us now to determine whether you could sue in a free consultation. 

What Is Slander?

Slander refers to one party verbally making defamatory (false and damaging) statements about another. Slanderous statements can severely harm the reputation or business of the injured party. However, the person subjected to slander can potentially file a lawsuit in civil court and seek compensation for their damages. Since slander refers to verbal statements, it can be tricky to prove in a lawsuit.

If you were harmed by slander, consider contacting our defamation attorneys immediately. The sooner you act, the sooner you can limit the damage of a slanderous statement, clear your name, and move on with your life. 

The Elements of a Slander Lawsuit 

If you intend to file a slander lawsuit in California, you must prove various elements to be successful. In general, the essential factors of a slander lawsuit include:  

1. The Statement Is Defamatory and Targets You

If a statement attacks your reputation or the reputation of your company and is false, it is generally considered slanderous. The defamatory comment must also target you or your business specifically. 

2. The Statement Is Published

If the slanderous statement was private between you and another, you would not have legal recourse. However, if the statement was made in public or overheard by a third party, you could have a case. In the case of slander, “published” includes the spoken word. 

3. The Statement Is False

The damaging statement must be false to have a legal case. Even if harmful to your business or reputation, a true comment does not qualify as slander. Moreover, if someone simply states an opinion, such as “this is the worst restaurant in the area,” you would not have a case for slander. You must be able to prove that the damaging statement is untrue.  

4. The Statement Caused Harm

If you are suing for slander in California, you must show that the defamatory statement harmed you. Examples include:

  • Losing a job, income, or business revenue due to the false statement
  • Losing your good name among friends, acquaintances, and the wider community
  • Experiencing failed family relationships or friendships due to slander 
  • Getting persecuted by the media
  • Experiencing shame and humiliation

5. The Statement Is Not Privileged

If a statement made against you falls under “qualified privilege,” you generally cannot sue for slander even if all the other elements for a lawsuit are met. The most common types of privileged statements include:

  • Witnesses testifying during court proceedings
  • Information exchanged between spouses
  • Statements between lawyers and their clients  
  • Legislators making comments during debates

Can You File a Slander Lawsuit in California? 

If you are harmed by slander in California, you could file a lawsuit. However, you typically have to prove that you suffered damages due to another’s defamatory statement.  Moreover, you have to act quickly. Plaintiffs (those filing the lawsuit) generally only have one short year to file a defamation lawsuit in California, according to California Code of Civil Procedure section 340(c). The time starts ticking on the day when the slanderous statement was first published. 

How to File a Slander Lawsuit in California

Filing a slander lawsuit is no different from filing another personal injury lawsuit and usually involves the following steps: 

Filing the complaint – The complaint is the official document starting your lawsuit.

Serving the defendant – The defendant will be served with the complaint and must file an answer within 30 days.

Discovery – Discovery is the process of exchanging information and evidence between the two parties. 

Settlement negotiations – You can avoid trial by negotiating a settlement out of court with the defendant.

Trial – If the defendant does not agree to a fair settlement, your attorney can take your case to trial. 

An experienced and motivated defamation attorney can protect your best interests and help you recover the compensation that you deserve. 

Compensation You Could Recover With a California Slander Case

If you win a defamation lawsuit, you could recover damages such as:

  • Awards for loss of reputation, humiliation, and shame
  • Damage to your income, profession, or trade
  • Punitive damages, awarded to punish the defendant

The exact types of damages you can receive will depend on your specific case and the losses you suffered. Our defamation lawyers can assess your damages and fight vigorously for maximum recovery. 

Morgan & Morgan’s Defamation Attorneys Can Help

Since slander can be tricky to prove, consider working with our experienced and tenacious defamation attorneys. As the biggest personal injury firm in the country, Morgan & Morgan has access to hundreds of specialized lawyers. We have the resources and expertise needed to fight even complex and tough defamation lawsuits and can:

  • Determine whether you have a slander case in a free consultation
  • Build your case against the defendant
  • Collect evidence to prove slander and your damages
  • Negotiate a comprehensive settlement on your behalf
  • Fight vigorously for maximum recovery at trial

When working with Morgan & Morgan, you do not have to worry about anything. We can handle your case from beginning to end, leaving you free to concentrate on your career and home life. 

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Get answers to commonly asked questions about our legal services and learn how we may assist you with your case.

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  • Is Slander the Same as Libel?

    Slander and libel both qualify as unlawful defamation. However, while slander refers to the spoken word, libel is written defamation. You could have a libel case, for example, if another published untrue comments about you or your business in the written media such as social media accounts, newspapers, magazines, and other types of publications. Since libel deals with the written word, evidence for a lawsuit is generally easier to come by.

  • What Qualifies as Defamation Per Se in California?

    “Defamation per se” describes a defamatory statement that is considered so harmful that the harmed individual does not need to prove damages. Defamation per se generally can include:

    • Attacking a person’s professional character 
    • Alleging unchastity
    • Claiming that a person is infected with an STD
    • Alleging that a person committed a crime of moral turpitude
  • Is Slander a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

    Defamation claims, including slander and libel, fall under personal injury law.  Although slander does not cause physical injuries, it can injure a person’s reputation and result in damages such as income losses and emotional distress, similar to other personal injury lawsuits. 

  • What Can I Do if a Former Employer Spreads False Information About Me?

    Spreading false information about an employee or former employee is unlawful. For example, if your former employer accuses you of stealing and they cannot prove the accusation, you could have legal recourse. However, your former employer’s statement must be factual and not an opinion. Further, you should also have suffered damages such as lost income due to the slanderous statement. 

    On the other hand, if your employer provides a negative reference about your work performance, and the information in the reference is accurate or an opinion, you would not have legal recourse. The statement must be false and factual to qualify as slander. When an employer spreads rumors about you, consider speaking to an attorney to determine whether you can take legal action.

  • Can I Sue if Someone Slandered Me Online?

    Online slander is handled similarly to any other type of slander, except it deals with defamatory content on the internet. Online defamation can occur on social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Online videos or podcasts posted on social media, for example, can contain slanderous content. 

    Ways in which an online defamation lawsuit can help:

    • Holding the defamer to account
    • Ending the online harassment and slander
    • Compensation for any monetary losses
    • Removal of the negative online content

    If your personal or business reputation is threatened by online slander, our defamation attorneys could help.

  • Can I Afford a Defamation Lawyer?

    Most defamation lawyers work on a “no-win-no-fee” basis, also called a contingency agreement. Attorneys working on contingency will usually receive a percentage of the final settlement amount if and when they win the case. However, not all law firms and attorneys work with contingency, and some may charge hourly fees or retainers. Therefore, ensure you ask any potential attorneys about their fee structure before signing any agreements. 

    When Morgan & Morgan takes on your defamation case, you won’t have to worry about any out-of-pocket costs. Our fee is free until we win and you get paid. 

  • Is Proving Slander Difficult?

    Although you may feel strongly when another spreads false and damaging information about you, proving slander in a lawsuit can be challenging. While defamation laws protect individuals, they can be at odds with the First Amendment, which entitles all citizens to freedom of speech. The burden of proof is on the plaintiff, who has to demonstrate that slander occurred. Since slander refers to verbal statements, it can be more difficult to prove than libel. Having a seasoned lawyer by your side can be essential if you intend to file a slander lawsuit and pursue compensation.

  • Is Suing for Slander Worth It?

    Suing for slander can be worth it as you could recover your reputation and receive damages for your financial losses and others. Slandered individuals could recover awards for:

    • Loss of income or business revenue 
    • Future loss of income
    • Loss of current and prospective clients
    • Inability to get a job due to slander
    • Costs for counseling 
    • Mental anguish
    • Shame and disgrace

    Depending on your case, you could also recover additional damages. However, suing for defamation is not only worth it for the damages you could collect. Consider that you are also standing up for your future reputation. Holding slanderers to account by filing a lawsuit can act as a deterrent and could put off others from trying to defame your character or business in due course. 

  • Could I Receive Punitive Damages in a Slander Lawsuit?

    Punitive damages are usually rare in personal injury lawsuits. However, in some cases, you could receive punitive damages in addition to compensation. However, you would generally have to show that the defendant acted maliciously or fraudulently tried to destroy your reputation and business. A judge or jury generally awards punitive damages as a deterrent and punishment. 

  • What Should I Do After Slander?

    If someone made a defamatory statement about you, you could file a lawsuit and receive damages. In the first instance, ensure to protect your legal rights by collecting evidence and noting down any details of the incident meticulously. Notes should include the date and time of the incident and the person’s name. Having witnesses can be crucial for a successful slander lawsuit. Therefore, ensure to gather the contact details of any witnesses.

    It is also essential to collect any proof of your damages, such as loss of income or business revenue and others. Consider contacting us as soon as possible to assess your case. Our attorneys can collect time-sensitive evidence and help you file legal action as soon as possible.

  • Contact Morgan & Morgan Today to Fight Back 

    You are not powerless when another makes false and harmful statements about you personally or about your business. If you want to know how to file a slander lawsuit in California, get in touch. Morgan & Morgan has your back. Our defamation attorneys can help to restore your reputation and fight for the settlement that you deserve. 

    Morgan & Morgan has recovered more than $20 billion in damages for clients over the last three decades. We could help you get justice too. Don’t wait, as the time to fight for what you deserve is limited in California. Contact us now to start the process with a free case review.

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