The Five Elements of Defamation Explained

The Five Elements of Defamation Explained

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The Five Elements Of Defamation Explained

No one likes to have their reputation smeared, but sometimes false claims lobbied against us cause serious harm, including lost job opportunities, a decline in business, or even the loss of personal friendships and relationships. When someone makes false statements about another person to the public, it’s a form of personal injury. The victim whose name was sullied may suffer significant damages from the defamation. Written defamation is libel, while spoken defamation is slander, but both are forms of defamation if they meet the criteria—the five elements of defamation.

It’s important to mount a serious case against defamation to protect your reputation and recover compensation for the damages. A defamation lawsuit accomplishes both but in order to prove defamation against the wrongdoer, the case must meet the five elements of defamation—otherwise the person who smeared your reputation will claim the right to free speech.

1. The Information was Made Public

A statement made privately or written in an email to a single recipient is not defamation. In order to meet the definition of defamation, the information must have been published spoken in a television or radio interview, shared on social media, or otherwise intentionally made public. If the smear reaches the public in a significant way, it meets the definition of defamation.

2. The Defaming Statement Names the Person

If a statement made public doesn’t name the person whose reputation it besmirches, it doesn’t count as defamation. For example, suppose someone publishes defamatory information about an “employee of the local McDonald’s” but does not name the person, the statement doesn’t meet this element of defamation. However, if the statement says “the manager of the local McDonald’s” and there is only one manager, it’s the same as naming the person, and therefore, it meets this element of defamation.

3. The Defamatory Statement Had a Negative Impact on the Victim’s Reputation

Even if someone makes untrue statements publicly, it’s not defamation if the remarks do not cause damage to their reputation. Publicly saying something factually incorrect, like getting someone’s height wrong or stating that they worked for an organization when they actually volunteered without pay doesn’t harm that person’s reputation.

If the untrue remarks cause the victim to lose job opportunities or cause other damages, then it demonstrably had a negative impact on the victim’s reputation.

4. The Published Remarks are Demonstrably False

It’s not a defamation case if the published statement is true, even if it causes significant harm. In order to prove a defamation case, it’s necessary to show that the published statement is unequivocally false.

5. The Defendant In the Case Is At Fault for the Defamation

For a successful defamation lawsuit, the victim has to be able to prove that the defendant in the case was the one who published false, defamatory information. For example, if someone else misquoted them and published the misquote, the defendant isn’t at fault for the defamation.

When a case meets all five elements of defamation, the case may move forward and the victim may recover compensation for their damages. An experienced Westminster personal injury attorney from Ciancio Ciancio Brown, P.C. knows how to make a compelling case proving defamation by providing evidence to show that the victim was defamed and suffered damages from the defamation.