Closer Look: Can Defamation and Slander Be Considered in a Personal Injury Case?

An individual’s right to freedom of speech is one of the most closely-held Constitutional rights among Americans. But where is the line between freedom of speech and intentionally causing harm to someone else through words? Let’s look at defamation law and when words speak louder than actions.

Defamation Laws

Defamation is a legal term that encompasses any statement or remark that harms the reputation of someone else. Defamation is the all-encompassing term used, but it can be broken down further into the following:

  • Libel – Libel occurs when someone makes a statement in writing that is published publicly.
  • Slander – Slander occurs when harmful statements are spoken aloud.

Each individual has the right to express their opinions, even regarding others. However, defamation laws protect Americans from harmful, false, or damaging statements.

Defamation as a Personal Injury Case

If someone is subject of defamation, libel, or slander, then he or she may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the person responsible. Defamation as a personal injury case requires the plaintiff (victim) to show the following:

  • Another person made a statement against you
  • The statement was published or public (i.e. available to third parties)
  • The statement caused harm or injury (such as lost work, harmed reputation, injured relationship, etc.)
  • The statement was false
  • The statement was unprivileged (example – the statement was not made while under oath. Testifying at trial is considered privileged).

In defamation cases, you may be able to recover damages if you can prove that you were harmed. Examples of the damages you may be entitled to include:

  • Economic Damages – medical or mental health treatment costs, lost wages, loss of future clients/earnings, etc.
  • Non-Economic Damages – Pain and suffering, personal humiliation, mental pain, etc.

To determine what recourse you have in a defamation personal injury case, contact Sunset West Legal Group to learn more.