When an unhappy customer or a frustrated former employee slanders your business, you may wonder if you have recourse against them. Their comments may be untrue, but do they have the malicious intent of harming your livelihood? If so, they qualify as defamation.
You may worry that defamation is a high threshold to clear. Understanding how it’s determined will help you know whether you might have a winning case on your hands.
Types of defamation in Florida
Florida recognizes three types of defamation. Defamation per quod relates to the damages someone’s statements caused a person or business. Its opposite, defamation per se, encompasses slander or libel that has not caused damages. By Florida law, a statement is defamatory per se if it alleges that:
- A person committed a felony, when they have not done so.
- A person contracted a disease which they do not have.
- A person is unfit to conduct business or own a business.
- A person – a woman, specifically – is promiscuous.
Less common than defamation per quod and defamation per se is defamation by implication. In this case, the defamer speaks or writes a true statement that is nonetheless malicious. Even though the statement is provable, it qualifies as defamatory because of the speaker or writer’s intent of harm.
The challenges of proving defamation
Defamation goes beyond the brandishing of choice words by aggrieved parties. For a statement to reach the threshold of defamation, it must be:
- Written or spoken
- Discharged with disregard for a person or business’ reputation
- Damaging to a person or business
So long as a statement meets all four criteria, you may consider a defamation suit worth pursuing. Make sure you collect evidence of the defamation’s effect on your personhood or business. Thorough, provable documentation can bolster your chances of achieving a desirable outcome.