Elements of a Defamation Case

Defamation is a legal term that includes a statement(s) that hurts someone’s reputation. A written statement is considered "libel”, and a spoken statement is "slander.” Both individuals and companies may have a claim for defamation if the message contained the following elements:

  • it was defamatory statement of fact;
  • it was published with actual or implied malice;
  • it was false;
  • it was published by the defendant to a third party; and
  • it resulted in special damages or presumed damages

Some times a plaintiff may get terminated from their job, lose a business opportunity, or incur some other monetary loss. Those types of cases are very strong, but other cases may not have specific financial loss or special damages. Nevertheless, the courts recognize 4 categories of defamatory statements where damages are presumed: (1) crime; (2) loathsome disease; (3) unfitness for business, trade, profession; or (4) unchastity. In other words, the law has determined that those types of statements may be so damaging that the Plaintiff does not need to prove she sustained a loss.

With social media becoming so present in our lives, a few strokes on a keyboard can broadcast a hurtful message to many people in an instant. You should consult with an experienced attorney quickly to help preserve potential evidence, if you believe you have been defamed. Please contact Allen Law, if you believe your personal or business reputation has been damaged.