If someone has said or written something about you or your business that you felt was incorrect, and that statement has had a negative impact, you may be able to bring a defamation claim. Simply put, defamation is a false statement that someone says or writes about a person or entity that has a negative impact on that person’s reputation. Before you can bring a claim for defamation you must be able to establish the following:
- Defamatory language on the part of the defendant;
- The defamatory language must be of, or concerning, the plaintiff;
- The defendant must publish the defamatory language to a third person; and
- The plaintiff must be able to show that the publication damaged their reputation.
- Additionally, if the defamation concerns a public figure, or in some way involves a matter of public concern, you must be able to prove the following:
- The falsity of the defamatory language; and
- Fault on the defendant’s part.
Often, the most difficult element to establish in a defamation claim is damage. Your burden of proof to show damages, and which type of damages you must prove, may depend on whether the defamatory statement is considered libel or slander. A defamatory statement that is written or published in some permanent form is called libel. A defamatory statement that is spoken is considered slander. General damages are damages that are intended to compensate a plaintiff for the injury to their reputation. Special damages, in a defamation context, means that the plaintiff must prove that they actually suffered a pecuniary (monetary), loss due to the publication of the defamatory statement.
If the defamatory statement is considered libel, general damages are presumed and the plaintiff need not show special damages. In slander cases injury is not presumed and the plaintiff must establish special damages, i.e. that the plaintiff suffered a pecuniary or monetary loss due to the slanderous statement. Proving special damages can prove extremely difficult in many situations. Even more importantly, your recovery will be limited to the damage you can prove.
To determine whether you have a claim and if that claim is worth pursuing you should contact an attorney. The attorneys at Turner & Kuhlmann in St. George, UT are happy to provide a free consultation. Call and schedule an appointment today at (435) 656-6156.