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Tort law is a complex and multi-faceted area of law. It encompasses everything from premises liability to defective products, dog bites to medical malpractice. If you’ve been the victim of libel or slander, you may be wondering if you have a case for a lawsuit. Do slander or libel fall under the scope of tort law? The simple answer is: it depends. Learn about slander and libel and how they may give rise to an injury claim.
Slander is a type of “defamation of character.” It occurs when someone tells lies, spreads false information, or communicates negative information about someone else. A false and maliciously spoken statement can be grounds for a lawsuit when it damages another person’s reputation.
Libel is similar to slander, though it concerns written material. Libel may be in a newspaper, social media post, or anything that appears in print.
According to state law, both slander and libel are considered personal injury, as they both can lead to defamation of character. Slander is a short-term form of defamation, while written and video portrayals are more permanent versions of defamation.
Many people are quick to point out that the first amendment provides us all with freedom of expression and speech. This is certainly true, and it does play a role in proving a defamation of character case. Since it is our constitutional right to say what we want, the burden of proof for defamation cases is even higher than that of a general personal injury case. In other words, a plaintiff will have to provide significant evidence that a person’s written statement or speech caused measurable harm.
In a landmark case on the subject, New York Times v. Sullivan, the U.S. Supreme court revised their explanation of defamation. Now plaintiffs must prove actual malice motivated the act of slander or libel.
The following elements may play a role in your refuting a slander or libel case:
While libel and slander have higher evidentiary standards than other kinds of personal injury cases, the actions still occur more frequently than you might think. Especially in the social media age, people spread malicious misinformation about one another. If you’ve been the victim of defamation of character and incurred harm as a result, you might have grounds for a personal injury case. For more information, talk to an attorney.