The Act of Defamation and Your Legal Rights under Florida Law
Our law firm helps individuals and organizations for all kinds of defamation cases. Our attorneys are very experienced in helping our clients resolve defamation issues, including defense of a frivolous defamation claim, achieving a retraction, and asserting our client's rights to be free from defamation. Typically, most defamation cases can be resolved with a cease and desist letter. However, first and foremost, we are trial attorneys and litigators, so if representation in litigation is necessary, we can help.
What is Defamation?
Defamation is the act of making a false statement against an individual, entity or organization. Any false term or statement used to hurt the reputation of an individual may be considered act of defamation, particularly if such act causes damages. The term or statement can typically be written or spoken. Written or printed defamation is called "Libel," whereas spoken defamation is called as "slander." Libel can be created by emails, writings, paintings, or even signs. It also includes publishing statements on social networking sites such as Twitter and FaceBook. Slander can be expressed as words to defame an individual.
Disagreement and differences in opinion brings about an imbalance in society. In order to restore this balance, the defamation law was enacted to protect the feelings and reputation of individuals. Defamation cannot be considered as an actual crime, but it is a civil wrong or a tort. Under the defamation law, the defamed individual has a legal right to file a suit against the person who has defamed him/her.
The Defamation Law
Defamation Law is complicated because it varies depending on the State. However, there are a few common elements that are required to prove defamation in every Jurisdiction. The following are the prima facie elements to prove a defamation case in Florida.
To prove a defamation claim, the plaintiff should be able to present valid evidence that shows the published statement. In case the defamation is libel, a published statement will involve written or printed proof of defamation, whereas in case of slander, a published statement involves a third person who either has seen or heard the false statement and believed it.
- False Statement
The defamation law requires the defamatory statement to be false. There is a very thin line between a defamatory statement and a personal opinion. Opinions are not considered defamation because, among other things, they can't be proven to be false.
- Damage or Injury
The defamatory statement must cause some sort of damage or injury to the defamed individual's or company's reputation. Defamation can takes place anywhere at any time. Harsh words that are spoken out of anger and without control may hurt an individual's feelings, but, such statements are not legally actionable under the tort of defamation.
Under few situations, an individual has the privilege to make statements that can be proved false without the fear of defamation. For instance, lawmakers have the privilege to make statements in the legislative assembly or in official writings that would otherwise could be construed as defamatory. The defamation law requires the defamatory statement to be unprivileged, and not defensible under any other type or kind of qualified privilege.
Once a defamation case is filed, a special jury that consists of six members collectively determine what the facts are. The assigned judge will rule on the law, and the Jury, if one is asked for in the pleadings, will determine the facts. If the prima facie elements are not made, the court may directly set dismiss the case without a determination from the Jury.
The Role of Defamation Attorneys
Proving a defamation case with all prima facie elements is challenging. The law is always evolving and every case is different. Additionally, with the proliferation of the internet, new unique ways are being used, including social media, to cause defamatory harm on individuals and businesses. Therefore, a thorough legal analysis requires the help of an experienced attorney, who can identify correctly whether the defamation claim is valid. Moreover, if you fail to claim within a limited time period, your claims may be barred under a concept known as the Statute of Limitations. Hence, the lawyers at Arcadier and Associates are ready to provide you with the proper legal advice to protect and defend your interests.