Written by AskTheLawyers.com™
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™
Have You Suffered from Slander?
Seek Legal Advice From a Lawyer About Slander
Slander is a type of defamation that is made in an oral statement. When the statements that are made are false and are said with malicious intent, the speaker is guilty of slander. Common slanderous comments include rumors spread in social situations, such as at school or at a party. If the comments are true, there is no slander. Thus, though a comment may damage one’s reputation, if it is true, the person is not entitled to damages.
Slander claims often stem from statements another person makes which cause scorn or disgrace to the victim. While defaming comments are made every day, it is rare for someone to pursue a slander case, primarily because this type of case can be difficult to prove.
Accused of slander? To prove that a comment was not defamatory, all the accused has to do is one or more of these three things:
- Prove that the statement is true.
- Show how they had a duty to provide the information, such as in a judicial proceeding.
- Claim to be expressing an opinion.
With this in mind, it’s easy to see why it can be difficult to make a slander accusation stick. Many slander cases do not make it to court. They are often either settled outside of court or dropped when the victim gives up. Due to the low number of slander cases that actually make it to trial, there are not a lot of statistics to refer to. The slander cases that do make it to court can result in monetary damages or a public apology.
What are the Facts About Slander?
The most important thing to remember when pursuing a slander case: the claims made must be false to be eligible for legal recourse, and the speaker must have made the claims with malicious intent. Spoken defamation is called slander. For a statement to be considered legitimately slanderous, it must have been made to a third party.
Let’s go over some more important facts on slander:
There are two types of slander:
- Slander: In slander cases, the victim must be able to prove that the statements made by the accused were to a third party (i.e. at least one other person), and that the victim suffered “special damages” as a result. Special damages generally include tangible types of harm to a person’s life, like loss of work or compensation.
- Slander per se: In slander per se cases, the victim does not have to prove any special damages were incurred by the defendant’s words, but must fall into one or more of the following categories: implying the victim is guilty of criminal conduct, implying the victim has a type of communicable disease, or harmful statements about the victim’s profession.
The United States has a specific law governing online defamation which can be found in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. This statute absolves Internet service providers (hosting companies, websites, developers, etc.) of defamation liability over user comments and content.
There are some common defenses people use in response to being accused of slander. These may include the following: opinion, truth/falsity, privilege, wire service defense, libel-proof plaintiff doctrine, and consent.
Slandering a Private VS Public Figure.
The litigation process for slander can be complicated due to the intangible nature that goes into proving intention or negligence. There are generally few parties involved in slander cases—usually just the victim and the person accused of slandering them. In slander cases, the circumstances of the case depend primarily on whether the person libeled is a private or public figure.
- Private figures. According to most states, if the person slandered was a private citizen, the defendant accused of slandering that person can only be held liable if the plaintiff proves the defamation was due to negligence or intention. This means that the victim of slander must prove the defendant knew the statement was false or could be defamatory, or acted recklessly with regard to the truth/falsity of the statement, neglecting to first ascertain its verity.
- Public figures. If the person slandered was a public figure, the accused party must meet stricter standards regarding their motives while spreading the slander. For example, if the person slandered was a public figure, the defendant can only be held liable if he/she knew that the statement they made was false, or if the slander occurred as a result of acting with reckless disregard to the truth.
The key difference in building a slander case for a private or public figure hinges on whether you only need to prove negligence (as is the case with the slander of a private citizen), or whether you need to prove the defendant acted intentionally with malice or recklessly in regard to the truth (as is the case with the slander of a public figure).
Do You Have a Claim for Slander?
It can be difficult to figure out whether you have a claim for damages as a result of slander. Due to the intangible nature of this type of claim, it’s a good idea to seek legal advice before you engage in what could be a lengthy and expensive legal process. In cases where tangible harm occurred to the plaintiff due to the effects of the defendant’s slander, compensation may be sought. In some places, mental anguish and humiliation qualify as compensatory damages, but the plaintiff must be able to prove either intentionality or negligence on behalf of the defendant.
Depending on the nature of your damages due to slander, your lawyer may identify possible claims for:
- Lost wages (or impairment of earning capacity) as a result of professional slander.
- Pain and suffering, for emotional distress.
- Mental anguish and personal humiliation.
If you or the loved one has been slandered, you need an attorney that understands the emotional and physical toll slanderous comments can take on a victim’s life and reputation. An experienced attorney will be aggressive in seeking the compensation that you deserve.