Defamation Law


By Cotney Construction Law.

The First Amendment to the Constitution protects our freedom of speech; however, freedom of speech doesn’t excuse falsely speaking against someone.

Has your reputation, livelihood, or community standing been affected as a result of defamation of character? At Trent Cotney P.A., we take defamation claims seriously. We’ve represented many in the construction industry that have experienced defamation of character in the workplace.

What is Defamation

Defamation is when false statements are made that cause harm. Defamation can occur in the workplace between employers and employees and can be a result of rumors, performance reviews, background checks, and statements made that can be proven false. There are two types of defamation:

Slander is an oral defamation where a verbal untruth told by one person leads to harming the reputation of another. Slander is against the law and the victim of slander can seek compensation for damages in a lawsuit.

Libel is when someone intentionally defames another person in writing, published pictures, and through broadcast mediums such as radio and television. Like slander, the victim of libel can seek and pursue remedy through a lawsuit.

How is Defamation Proven?

Proving defamation is not easy. More specifically, proving slander can be more difficult than libel because defamation in the printed form is easier to use as evidence. This is why defamation claims need to be handled with the legal expertise of construction lawyers who can help you redeem your reputation. To prove defamation, the victim must be able to prove the statement, whether oral or printed, is fictitious and harms their reputation. Whether the act was done intentionally or with malice is also taken into consideration.

Elements of a Defamation Lawsuit

According to Florida law, defamation consists of the defendant publishing a false statement about the plaintiff to a third party. The publishing of the defendant’s statement causes harm to the plaintiff. Plaintiff has the right to bring forth lawsuit, if the plaintiff can prove that:

The defendant published an unprivileged statement to someone other than the plaintiff. This means that someone other than the plaintiff saw or heard the statement.

It is apparent that the statement is about the plaintiff. It should be easy to identify who the statement is about.

The statement harmed the plaintiff’s reputation in some way. Has the plaintiff lost business, a job, or esteem? Was the plaintiff shunned or ridiculed in some way?

The plaintiff must prove there was some form of malice or negligence on the part of the defendant.

Recoverable Damages in Defamation

Under Florida law, the types of compensatory damages a victim can receive as a result of proving defamation may include: payment for expenses, emotional distress, a lost of wages and benefits, and even punitive damages. In addition, defamation involving a public person is different than defamation involving a private person.

Statute of Limitations for Defamation

If you would like to file a defamation claim you must act quickly. In Florida, you have up to two years following a defamation offense to dispute your defamation claim via lawsuit. If you fail to do so, you will no longer have the right to sue.

Use our contact form to schedule a consultation.

Editor’s note: This article first published on Cotney Construction Law’s website and can be viewed here.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

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