+ What’s the difference between Slander and Libel?
Slander and Libel are both defamatory statements. Slander is a spoken defamatory statement and libel is when it is made in writing or published.
The reason we have two different terms to describe very similar courses of conduct is because courts have historically considered libel (the written insult) to be more harmful than slander (a verbal insult) because once something is put in writing, it creates a record that can be circulated to multiple people on more occasions than just the one time slander was said.
+ Can I sue someone that has slandered or committed libel
The result of slander or libel is “defamation”. Defamation is a tort, which is a legal term for a non-contract civil wrong. Essentially it’s like a personal injury, but instead of an injury that causes bodily harm, this one causes damage to one’s reputation. In many cases, a person whose reputation has been damaged can sue someone for libel or slander.
To Sue Someone for libel or slander you must prove four things.
+ Which is “better” in a lawsuit, libel or slander?
Libel is easier to prove in a lawsuit, not just because it’s written, so it’s easier to prove actually happened, but because Slander requires proof of “special damages”, where libel does not have that requirement.
Proving special damages is effectively having to prove that you lost money as a result of the defamation. With Slander, proving special damages is a requirement. With Libel it is not.
+ Can an opinion be considered slander or libel?
Generally, a qualified statement (ie: “I think that…” or “in my opinion…”) would not be considered defamation. Remember, to be liable for slander or libel, the statement must be false and defamatory. By saying that the negative statement is one’s opinion, they are not claiming it to be fact.
On the other hand, if a person is making a statement as an authority who people trust and rely on, that statement might still be considered slander or libel.
You should consult with an attorney to find out.
+ Can an internet post or slamming YouTube video be
considered slander or libel?
As long as the statement meets the elements of being considered slander or libel, yes, posting something on the internet meets the requirements of “publication” or a statement made to a third party and can be considered slander or libel.
In today’s world; blog posts or comments on social media are where a lot of claims of slander and libel are emerging. Social media wars seem to be the forum, lately, for nasty disputes and in many cases the garbage thrown back and forth can include a lot of libel.
Let’s say for example, someone you are in an argument with writes on your Facebook wall, “you are a thief, you embezzled $10,000 from me!” That comment, even though it was directed at you, can be considered libel if it can be read by third parties. Of course it would need to meet the other elements of defamation (if you were convicted of the embezzlement, you can’t claim it to be false), but generally speaking it’s actionable.
How about Youtube videos? Would they be considered libel or slander? The internet is different from TV or Radio in that a posted video is effectively published to the internet and people can play it over and over. Whereas if someone speaks something on TV or radio it’s slander, if they speak something in a video published on the internet, it would be considered libel.
+ Someone called me a ‘lying thief’ can I sue them for
Depends. Are you a lying thief? If they can prove that you are, in fact, a lying thief, then you probably won’t win. Also, where did they call you a lying thief? If only you and this other person were there or it wasn’t heard by any third party, they no probably won’t win. Also, what are your damages? If the person called you a lying thief in front of your friend, who just said to you, “oh, ignore her, she’s just a jealous person”, than you are not going to have damages for which you can get compensation. On the other hand, if a co-worker called you a lying thief, the accusation was totally false, your boss heard it and fired you… you probably can recover damages.
+ I want to sue for slander or libel, what do I do next?
First, read through this page carefully. Make sure your claim meets all of the required elements of slander or libel.
Second, consider your damages. It might be very rewarding to drag someone to court out of principle, but remember “principle costs principal”. In other words, it’ll cost you money to file, money to have the defendant served and that’s if you sue them yourself, if you hire an attorney, you will likely have to pay their fees. Your costs might be awarded to you and the defendant will have to pay them, but if the amount of damages you will wind up with is not worth the time or effort, it might not be worth it.
Third, you might get dragged through the mud. If the damages are huge, go for it, if the value of having your day in court to clear your reputation is worth it, great! But be prepared… the defendant might try to prove their case by saying what they said or wrote was true, in which case they will bring up all the reasons why you are a thief, liar, criminal, infected with a horrible disease, etc.
Finally, what’s your likelihood of recovering the money? Winning in court is one thing, but if the defendant has nothing or will be difficult to collect from, you might spend a lot more time and money chasing your judgment, so be prepared.
These considerations probably are true for any type of lawsuit you are considering. As with any potential litigation, talk to an attorney with experience in the specific area of law. Slander and Libel Attorneys (or defamation attorneys) generally will have experience in civil litigation and a track record of suing or defending these types of actions. Every state has their own specific slander and libel laws, so you will need someone who is familiar with the laws of your state.
SlanderVsLibel.com is not a law firm. We are an information page and the information contained herein is not intended to be construed as legal advice or relied upon as a legal opinion. You should consult with a licensed attorney who is qualified to give a legal opinion on your case. We offer a free legal referral form on the margin of this page to help you locate a licensed attorney in your area. We are not affiliated with any law firm or liable for any representation. We are merely a referral source. For other resources and referrals you can visit your state’s bar association website:
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