You may have heard the terms defamation, libel and slander used in the past, and particularly by the media when referring to well known individuals who feel that their name or image has been sullied by the actions or works of another party. But you do not have to be famous to suffer the ill affects of defamation, libel and slander. Defamation, libel and slander can occur as individual offenses or as a combination of two or more, in a variety of different situations. By understanding their meaning and how they are enforced, you can help to protect your own name and image in the future.
Defamation occurs when one actor acts with the intent to bring harm to the name, image or reputation of another party. In general, defamation represents the intent to bring about such harm and the general framework through which that harm is perpetrated. Slander and libel are then the mediums through which the harm is transferred from one party to another. Slander occurs when one party defames another vocally, or in any oral manner. In other words, if one actor publicly makes comments about another party that are damaging to their name, image or reputation, that could be considered slander.
In contrast to slander, libel occurs when an actor defames another individual or group of individuals through a fixed medium, or, in other words, in any type of writing or non-verbal correspondence. When a reporter reports in such a way as to cause harm to another party’s image, name or reputation and that report is recorded through a magazine, newspaper or on the internet, that can be considered libel. In some defamation cases, the same actor may perpetrate both slander and libel against the individual whose image, name or reputation has been harmed.
Defamation cannot be proven in all cases where it is alleged, however. First, if the actor who makes oral or written statements about another individual can prove that they are true and have not just been uttered as rumor, that is a defense to defamation. Next, if there is no intent to harm and an oral or written statement is simply an opinion made without any reason for it to become damaging to another person’s reputation, that can also be a defense to defamation. Defamation law suits can be tricky to pursue, as they may cause more damage to reputation than the original occurrence of the libel or slander, and because they may be difficult to prove.
A personal injury attorney is your best bet in recovering damages in a defamation case. You can request a free case consultation here.