False Accusations

How Do I Know if I Was Falsely Accused of Something?

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How Do I Know if I Was Falsely Accused of Something?

You have worked hard to build a positive reputation both at work and in the community. Just one sentence posted on a social media site can turn what was a positive reputation into one that has damaged your career. With all the possible ways for someone to disparage your character, you have to ask, “How do I know if I was falsely accused of something?”

Most people find out second-hand when they are the victims of a false accusation. A friend, relative, or neighbor notices a damaging allegation posted online. False accusations do not just come in the form of social media posts. A false accusation can come verbally as well, which means you might not hear about a false accusation unless someone you know and trust tells you about it.

If someone has made an inaccurate statement in written or verbal form that has damaged your reputation, you have the right to seek monetary damages by filing a civil lawsuit. Defamation of character is not considered a criminal offense. Instead, defaming someone’s character falls under the tort or civil category of litigation. The key to winning a defamation of character lawsuit involves working with an experienced attorney who specializes in litigating similar cases.

At Morgan & Morgan, we understand how just one false accusation can dramatically change your life. Whether someone accuses you of harassment at work or embezzling money out of a civic fund, you have the right to protect your good name by filing a civil lawsuit. One of the defamation lawyers at Morgan & Morgan will help you answer the question, “How do I know if I was falsely accused of something?” as well as represent you during litigation to restore your reputation.

Schedule a free case evaluation to determine how to proceed with a defamation of character case.

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

Morgan & Morgan - Defamation Lawyers

  • What Are the Two Types of Defamation of Character?

    The laws created for defamation of character find their roots in a simple legal principle: No one has the right to spread lies that potentially can destroy another person’s life. However, lawyers have to walk a fine line between defamation of character and the constitutional right to freedom of speech. Legal precedent dating back decades has established that damaging someone’s reputation by making a false accusation does not receive the constitutional safeguards granted by the freedom of speech clause written into the First Amendment.

    Defamation of character comes in two forms. First, slander describes making a verbal false accusation that damages the reputation of another person. Second, libel represents the written version of defamation of character. For years, libel often took place in printed publications. The Internet has transformed the legal ramifications of libel, as defamation of character in the written form typically takes place online.

    Libel leaves a paper or digital trail, which makes it easier to prove. When you work with one of the defamations of character attorneys at Morgan & Morgan, you work with a litigator who knows how to discover the digital footprint left behind by someone who committed libel. For slander cases, we need to have at least one witness who can verify someone disparaged your character verbally. It is much easier to answer the question, “How do I know if I was falsely accused of something?” if the false accusation involved libel.

  • What Steps Should I Take When Falsely Accused of Something?

    The instinctive reaction when you find out about a false accusation is to lash out at the person who made the false accusation. The first thing you need to do is put a check on your emotions. Hiring a highly-rated defamation of character attorney can help you manage your emotions because you receive the legal support required to erase the false accusation from the public record.

    Understand the Seriousness of the False Accusation

    Having to deal with a false accusation of a crime you did not commit is one thing. The negative ramifications of having a crime placed on your record can last a lifetime. However, not all false accusations involve criminal acts. Maybe someone claimed you cheated on your spouse or took an academic shortcut to graduate from college. If left unchallenged, and type of a false accusation can create negative long-lasting consequences.

    You must take any type of false accusation seriously.

    Establish a Legal Fund

    Fighting back against a false accusation involves spending money to restore your good name. To build a strong defense, you need to pay court costs, attorney fees, expert witness fees, and the expenses associated with conducting a thorough investigation. Many attorneys waive legal fees and instead, they operate on a contingency fee basis. This means you pay nothing upfront in legal fees and your lawyer receives a percentage of the monetary damages awarded by a judge or jury.

    Gather and Organize Evidence

    This is when a talented litigator makes a significant contribution to a defamation of character case. Physical evidence plays a significant role in libel cases because of the paper or digital trail made by the person who made the false accusation. Nonetheless, you should collect evidence for a slander case as well. Your attorney conducts an investigation that uncovers physical evidence proving the accusations made against you are lies. Photographs and formal business documents can boost your case during a defamation of character case.

    Interview Witnesses

    Because slander often comes down to the word of one person against the word of another person, witness accounts can help you fight back against a false accusation. You should make a list that contains the names and contact information of every witness. Your lawyer will interview each witness to determine which ones offer the strongest support for your case. The more witnesses that support your side of the story, the better chance you have of winning a favorable legal judgment.

    Negotiate a Settlement

    You learn the answer to “How do I know if I was falsely accused of something” when a judge or jury returns a decision in your favor. Another way to discover whether another person falsely accused you of something is to negotiate a settlement. Not only do you want just compensation, but you also want an admittance of guilt that the other party falsely accused you of something. Winning a defamation of character case involves receiving monetary damages, as well as a formal written statement that restores your good name.

  • What Are the Monetary Damages for a Defamation of Character Case?

    Although defamation of character technically is not considered a personal injury case, it does provide victims with the same types of monetary damages.

    Special Compensatory Damages

    The costs associated with a defamation of character case include medical bills that result from the negative health symptoms triggered by stress and anxiety. For example, dealing with a false accusation can send your blood pressure soaring, which leads to several unhealthy symptoms. Some of the negative health consequences associated with a false accusation include migraine headaches and extreme fatigue. Receiving treatments for the negative physical consequences produced by a false accusation can put a huge dent in your budget.

    You have the right to receive compensation to cover medical expenses and the money lost because a false accusation costs you employment opportunities. Many defamation of character cases involve false accusations made in a professional setting, which damages the career of a victim. If someone falsely accused you of something and the accusation has damaged your career, you have the right to seek compensation to recover lost income.

    General Compensatory Damages

    General compensatory damages pay you for non-economic issues. Shame and embarrassment often result from having to deal with a false accusation. Both emotions fall under the category called pain and suffering, which your attorney must calculate a reasonable value for as a part of the monetary damages you seek from the defendant. Pain and suffering can include mental anguish and emotional distress. General compensatory damages also include loss of consortium, which can happen when a spouse leaves because a false accusation has irrevocably damaged a marital relationship.

    Punitive Damages

    Punitive damages do not cover the cost of tangible expenses such as medical bills. This type of monetary damages punishes the defendant for lying or making misleading statements about another person. The amount awarded for punitive damages depends on the long-term impact of a false accusation. For example, a libelous statement that ruins someone’s career might lead to a much higher award than a slanderous statement that falsely accused someone of padding academic credentials.

    Judges and juries award punitive damages to deter defendants from falsely accusing someone else of something.

  • What Does a Defamation Attorney Do?

    One of the most important responsibilities of a defamation lawyer involves identifying the key legal issues, which form the foundation for developing the most effective legal strategy. Your attorney should advise you on how to handle your case, as well as file the motions required to keep your case on track for the trial phase of the legal process. Experienced defamation attorneys know when to negotiate a settlement and when to take a case to trial. Once a trial starts, your lawyer argues your case in front of a judge or jury.

    Since most libel cases involve the Internet, hiring a defamation lawyer who understands how to leverage digital technology to build a strong case is an important legal element. Your lawyer or an investigator working for your lawyer should know how to identify an Internet troll, as well as criminals such as extortionists and cyberstalkers. Preserving evidence that might disappear at the click of a keystroke represents an essential responsibility for a defamation attorney. Subpoenaing websites and Internet Service Providers (ISP) helps your attorney gather and organize the digital evidence needed to prove libel.

  • How Morgan & Morgan Can Help You Win a Defamation of Character Case?

    You might not immediately know the answer to the question, “How do I know if I was falsely accused of something?" It might have taken days, if not weeks to learn about a false accusation made by another person. Whether you found out within 24 hours or a couple of months, you must act with a sense of urgency to restore your positive reputation. The first item on your to-do list involves contacting one of the defamation lawyers at Morgan & Morgan.

    For more than 35 years, we have helped clients win defamation of character cases. The negative long-term consequences of having your good name tarnished can include a significant decrease in income and the loss of a prestigious honor. Schedule a free case evaluation today to fight back hard against a false accusation.

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