Under federal law, defamation is a communicated statement that is spoken, written or otherwise communicated about another person that has the ability to harm that person’s reputation. Unlike other torts, such as trespass or battery, a person can be found guilty of defamation regardless of whether they intended to bring about harm through their actions. In the past, defamation was practically a forgotten tort; however, with advent of the Internet and the ease with which it allows people to disperse comments about others, defamation is now a heavily litigated act.
Have you been the target of defamation? Has this defamation hurt your representation and had a significant impact on your personal or professional life? The team of attorneys at the Anastopoulo Law Firm in South Carolina can discuss the circumstances of your case and help you recover compensation for the defamatory words of others.
Understanding Defamation Law
In South Carolina, the burden is on the plaintiff to prove that a statement is defamatory in nature. In general, it must be shown that:
- A defamatory and false statement was made;
- The defamatory and false statement was unprivileged and published to a third party;
- The statement caused special harm to the plaintiff, or was extremely defamatory regardless of whether it caused harm; and
- The accused is at fault.
If no harm was caused, yet the statement had the potential for extreme harm, the defamatory statement is considered “defamation per se.” In contrast, defamation resulting in actual harm is considered to be “defamation per quod,” and requires actual evidence proving that harm was caused. However, when an act constitutes defamation per se, there is no need to prove actual malice or damages.
Furthermore, there are two types of defamation: slander, a verbal defamatory statement, and libel, a written defamatory statement.
In both slander and libel lawsuits, the defamatory statement must have been actually “published,” meaning that it was communicated through traditional formats such as newspapers, magazines and blogs, though oral remarks can also be considered as being “published.”
The recipient of the communication must have been able to determine that the speaker intended to refer to the injured party. Importantly, even if the speaker did not intend to reference the the injured party, liability can still result if the recipient of the communication had reason to believe that the speaker was, in fact, referring to the plaintiff. This is because the underlying intent for defamation lawsuits is to provide compensation for injuries suffered because of the defamatory acts of someone, regardless of whether the speaker intended to bring about the resulting harm.
Anastopoulo Law Firm Defamation Lawyers
If you have experienced a debilitating defamation of your character or have become the victim of acts of libel or slander, it is imperative that you reach out to the Anastopoulo Law Firm today. Our experienced attorneys will provide you with professional representation so you receive compensation for the damage caused to your good name.