When someone makes false statements about you on social media or in a public forum, their words can damage your reputation and harm your business endeavors for years to come. If you are the victim of defamatory statements, you may have the right to file a legal claim against the parties making these statements.
What constitutes defamation?
There are two main types of defamation: libel and slander. Generally, libel refers to statements made in writing, while slander refers to statements made orally.
As a victim of defamation in Florida, you and your attorneys will need to prove that:
- The defendant made an oral or written “factual” statement about you or your business. Expressions of personal opinions (e.g. claiming that someone is “rude”) are not considered defamatory.
- The defendant made the statement to a third party.
- The defendant’s statement was defamatory, rather than neutral or positive.
- The statement made by the defendant was false.
- The statement made by the defendant caused you harm.
In addition to the above elements, public figures, including both local and national government officials, will also have to prove the defendant made the statements with actual malice.
When the statement is so inherently damaging that actual damages are presumed and do not need to be proven, the statement may be considered defamation per se. Defamation per se statements falsely accuse you of:
- Committing a crime
- Having a loathsome disease
- Being unchaste
- Improper conduct relating to your business or profession
What damages can you recover if your defamation claim is successful?
If you and your attorney successfully prove your defamation or business tort claim, you can recover damages for any injury you suffered as a result of the defamatory statements. These damages may include:
- Harm to reputation
- Lost earnings or earning capacity
- Humiliation or embarrassment
- Emotional distress or mental anguish
A Florida attorney specializing in defamation cases can help you recover the damages you deserve.