Do I Need an Attorney for a Slander Lawsuit?
Do I Need an Attorney for a Slander Lawsuit?
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When you think of a personal injury case, you probably think about incidents such as auto collisions, slip and falls, and defective products. There is another type of personal injury that defies the timeless saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
We are talking about a personal injury case called slander.
Yes, words can hurt you and not just personally. A slanderous statement can derail your career and upset the dynamic of a romantic relationship. Words can hurt you, and you have the right to fight back by filing a slander lawsuit.
As a form of defamation, slander is the act of one party making false and damaging statements concerning another party. As opposed to libel, which is defamation in written form, slander is spoken defamation. Because slander involves false, misleading, and/or damaging statements, this type of defamation is more difficult to prove than proving libel. You not only have to demonstrate you are the victim of defaming statements, but also the other party knew the defaming statements would hurt you.
With your reputation at stake and the fact that proving slander is difficult to do, hiring a personal injury attorney can help you file a convincing slander lawsuit. For more than three decades, the personal injury lawyers at Morgan & Morgan have helped clients receive monetary damages for being the victims of slanderous statements. We know what it takes to persuade a judge or jury to award you compensation for having to deal with slanderous statements made about your personal and/or professional character.
Schedule a free case evaluation to allow one of our experienced personal injury lawyers to decide whether you have a strong enough case to file a slander lawsuit.
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What Are the Benefits of Hiring a Slander Attorney?
Filing a slander lawsuit without the legal support of a state-licensed slander lawyer is a recipe for disappointment with the decision made by a judge or jury. An experienced personal injury attorney who specializes in litigating slander cases brings many attributes to the table.
Ensures You Meet the Statute of Limitations
Every state has established a statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit. It does not matter if you are filing a slander lawsuit or a civil lawsuit that seeks monetary damages for the injuries caused by a vehicle collision. You have a certain amount of time to file the paperwork required to initiate a personal injury lawsuit. A personal injury attorney who specializes in litigating slander cases makes sure you file your lawsuit long before the deadline.
Helps Gather and Present Persuasive Evidence
Slander represents one of the most difficult personal injury cases to win. Proving another party made statements that have damaged your career and/or personal relationships often comes down to the testimony presented by witnesses. However, a personal injury lawyer might be able to acquire voice records of another party making false and damaging statements about you, especially if the statements were made over a voicemail system in the workplace. Eleven states require the consent of both parties to record a phone conversation, which means you might live in a state that grants you the right to tape-record a phone call without the other party’s consent.
Negotiates a Settlement
Your personal injury lawyer has two opportunities to negotiate a settlement. First, you might reach an agreement with the other party before the filing of a civil lawsuit. Your attorney sends the other party a demand letter detailing what happened, as well as the amount of money you seek in monetary damages. If the other party rejects the demand letter, the second chance for negotiating a settlement occurs during the discovery phase of the litigation process. Discovery represents the sharing of physical evidence and the names of witnesses.
Represents You During a Trial
Perhaps the most important benefit of hiring a personal injury attorney to litigate a slander lawsuit involves the trial phase of the litigation process. Your lawyer prepares you to testify in front of a judge or jury. A highly-skilled personal injury attorney asks the right questions, as well as cross-examines witnesses that provide shaky testimony. You receive legal counsel about how to respond to the questions posed by the other party’s attorney. An experienced personal injury lawyer might have established a strong professional relationship with the judge, which can benefit you during the argument phase of a civil trial.
What Are the Elements of Slander?
When we determine whether to file a slander lawsuit, we look for several elements that define slander.
Statements Must Be Defamatory
The restatement of torts defines a defamatory statement as "communication that tends to harm the reputation of another as to lower him in the estimation of the community or to deter third persons from associating with him." Typically if a statement or statements attack your personal and/or professional reputation, then your case might cover the definition of slander. Courts analyze slander cases on an individual basis to determine which statements qualify as slanderous and which statements were made with careless regard.
Statements Must Be False
Just because a statement hurts someone’s reputation does not mean the statement is considered slander under the American judicial system. The statement must also be false. This means your personal injury attorney must prove the statement or statements that have damaged your reputation have no truth to them. For example, if a customer called you the worst grocer in the area, we cannot prove slander because we cannot prove the statement made by the customer is false.
Statements Must be Harmful
Someone can make a false statement about you and not hurt you with their words. For example, someone lies about seeing you at a baseball game when you were not in the same city at the time of the game. The other party made a false statement, but the statement does not harm you unless it has a direct negative impact on your personal and/or professional reputation.
Heard by a Third Party
The primary reason why libel is easier to prove than slander is that there is a paper trail left behind, such as emails and printed documents. For a slander lawsuit, at least one other person must have heard a slanderous statement. This includes overhearing a conversation held by other parties that were unaware a witness heard what they were saying.
Statements Must Target You
The third party that heard the slanderous statements has to demonstrate the statements referred to you. Courts usually refer to the reasonable person standard to determine whether a third party has reason enough to believe you were the object of the slanderous statements.
What Is the Slander Lawsuit Process?
Before you file a slander lawsuit, you must read your state’s code of civil procedure to understand the local rules that apply to civil lawsuits. Your personal injury attorney is there to answer any questions you have concerning your state’s code of civil procedure.
Then, your lawyer establishes personal jurisdiction, which for slander is generally the location where the defendant made the slanderous statements. Your personal injury lawyer also must establish the venue where you file a slander lawsuit.
Your legal counsel drafts and serves a formal complaint to the defendant who has a certain amount of time to respond to it. After you receive a response to the formal complaint, the attorneys representing both parties participate in the discovery phase of the litigation process. Discovery can involve subpoenas, depositions, interrogatories, and requests for documents. Your personal injury attorney can prepare you for discovery.
If you do not reach a settlement during the discovery phase of the litigation process, your legal counsel will file a slander lawsuit.
How Much Does a Slander Attorney Cost?
Because it is considered a personal injury case, the legal counsel you hire to file a slander lawsuit should charge you on a contingency fee basis. This means you pay no upfront legal fees. Instead, your legal counsel receives a percentage of what the court awards you or the amount of money you receive in a favorable settlement. Most personal injury lawyers charge a contingency fee between 25 percent and 40 percent of the money awarded during a personal injury trial. In addition to the contingency fee arrangement, your attorney might cover costs such as filing fees and printing legal documents. You take care of the other costs associated with litigation by using part of your judgment or settlement.
What Types of Compensation Can I Receive for a Slander Lawsuit?
The type of compensation you receive for a slander lawsuit follows the same compensation principles followed by other types of personal injury cases.
Special Compensatory Damages
Here is where compensation differs between slander and other types of personal injury cases. You might not have any medical expenses to recover and most likely no expenses to repair property damage. However, slanderous statements can cost you your job, which means you have the right to sue for lost wages. Your attorney also will argue you deserve compensation for the loss of future income.
General Compensatory Damages
General compensatory damages, which the judicial system also refers to as non-economic damages, cover issues such as mental anguish, acute anxiety, and emotional distress. Being on the receiving end of slanderous statements can trigger a wide variety of mental and emotional issues that include severe depression. You have the right to seek compensation for non-economic damages.
Making slanderous statements often involves one or more acts of negligence. If another party intentionally defamed you by making slanderous statements, you have the right to seek punitive damages. Punitive damages do not cover economic or non-economic damages. This type of monetary damages punishes the defendant for making defaming statements, as well as discourage future acts of defamation.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney to File a Slander Lawsuit
If you expect to receive just compensation for being the victim of a slanderous statement, you need to enlist the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer who has compiled an impressive record of winning slander lawsuits. A highly-rated attorney from Morgan & Morgan can help you build a strong case with the help of witnesses and physical evidence like a tape-recorded phone conversation.
Take action today by scheduling a free case evaluation with one of the personal injury lawyers from Morgan & Morgan.