A defamation of character suit is an umbrella term that involves various legal cases. These can include libel, which involves published or written derogatory remarks. This can also include slander, which involves spoken comments. Defamation can be difficult to prove in court, because the burden of proof that the spoken or written word has caused damages lies with the plaintiff. You will also face various defense techniques. Therefore, you will have to have a strong case.
Here are a few tips in proving a defamation of character claim.
Prove that the statement is false. The first thing you need to do is prove that the defending party has issued a false statement. This can either be published—for example on a magazine or newspaper, or through online means, in websites, blogs, and even email. To prove defamation, you will need to show that a party has uttered a supposedly factual statement concerning you, but that particular piece of information is not true, or is not privileged information.
Prove that the statement was shared or published. Next, you will need to prove that the damaging statements made were shared with a third party. This can be anyone, including the public, a group of people, or any third party that might have been affected by the statement. You will also need to prove that these statements are understood to have referred to you.
If you are a public figure, such as a government official (or sometimes a celebrity), you would usually expect opinions and accusations hurled against you. In a defamation case, you will have to prove that these are made in a malicious context.
Show evidence that the statements caused damage or harm. Next, it’s not enough to prove the statement is false, and was knowingly said with you in mind. You will also need to show evidence that the statements made by the defendant have caused you actual harm. This can include different types of harm. You can show evidence that the statements caused you ridicule, contempt, hatred, or injury in your occupation. This can also include losses in your job or business because of the attack on your reputation.
Know about possible defenses. Lawyers of defendants in a defamation suit will usually utilize several defenses to your accusation. For one, the biggest defense against defamation is truth. If the statement made about you were true, then this would be to the advantage of the defendant. Secondly, privileged information—like those said in the context of a court trial—are also protected from these claims. Third, if the statement were innocently shared or uttered without malice, and if you had consented to the information or statement in the first place, might put your case at risk of losing.
Laws might vary depending on your state and jurisdiction. It’s always best to consult with a lawyer with knowledge in defamation proceedings before you decide to make a claim. You will need to have a strong case, and you will need to show both proof and evidence that the statements were made in malice, and that these have caused you actual harm.