There are certain exceptions to the Right to Free Speech in the United States. If a spoken statement proves to be damaging against someone and is defamatory, it is against the law.
Has someone made a damaging statement against you? We explain when you can sue for slander along with tips on how to start the process
What Is Slander?
Slander is defined by being a spoken falsehood that is damaging to another person. You’ll oftentimes see public figures bring these cases to court. Read more about this personal injury lawyer.
When to Sue for Slander?
Slander is a serious crime, whether they know it or not. Keep them from doing this to you again. You can sue for slander when:
- An individual made a defamatory, false statement about you
- They had to know at the time that it was a false statement
- That statement is outside any category of privilege.
- That individual who published the false statement was acting out of negligence at the time of publication.
- The statement was harmful to you
Can I Sue for Slander?
If you want to bring a defamation lawsuit, show that the defendant harmed your reputation with their defamatory statement. Let’s take a look.
1. The Statement Needs to Be Defamatory
It must harm your reputation in the community and deter others from associating with you.
Courts take them case-by-case to make sure the statements qualify.
2. It Needs to Be Published
Published doesn’t literally mean published here. A third party has to have seen or heard the statement. Social media and loud conversations qualify if they were indeed understood by the third party.
3. It Needs to Be False
If someone “publishes” a statement that hurts your reputation, it isn’t considered defamatory unless it’s objectively false.
4. It Needs to Be Harmful
You have to demonstrate that the statement has indeed harmed you. Here are some examples:
- You were fired from your job because of it
- You’re being harassed by the press
- Your reputation within your community or friends/family is lost
5. It Needs to Target You
If the statement isn’t referring to the plaintiff, it’s not slander. The court can decide this.
6. It Needs to Show Malice (for Public Figures)
Actual malice is when the individual making the statement was fully aware that it was objectively false or was unwilling to check.
7. It Doesn’t Fall Under “Qualified Privilege”
You must prove that the statement was “unprivileged”. Examples of privileged statements would be a witness testifying in court, any legislator speaking during related debates, or things said between spouses.
How to Sue for Slander
Filing a slander lawsuit is a lot like filing any other lawsuit. To sue for defamation, take the following steps:
- File a complaint
- Serve that complaint
- Perform the discovery
- Attend all settlement negotiations
This is not a comprehensive list, but it shows you the main steps to take along the way, and what to expect.
How Much Will It Cost Me to Sue for Slander?
Lawyers can charge a flat fee or by the hour. Some can charge a contingency fee. It really depends on the individual case and the lawyer’s experience (Read more about this personal injury lawyer).
Considering Filing a Slander Lawsuit?
If you want to sue for slander, you will collect special damages if you win. Being a victim of slander is a horrible experience, and you should take action if it meets the above criteria.
A slander claim can get very complicated and are full of minute details that need special attention. You’d want to have an experienced attorney to help you bring the suit.
Find a personal injury lawyer who is qualified and knowledgeable. Don’t let anyone get away with a defamatory statement toward you. They could ruin your reputation and your personal and professional future.