Defamation Lawsuits Explained
Defamation occurs when a person makes a statement that is implied to be true that gives somebody else a negative image. If they statement is spoken it is referred to as slander and if it is written it is called libel. There are laws to protect people from defamation and lawsuits to do occur, however it is very difficult to win a defamation lawsuit. In general in order to be sued for defamation it will be necessary to prove that the statement is false and that the person saying it knew it was false. It will also be necessary to show that there was real damage done by the statement.

In most, but not all cases you are protected from a defamation lawsuit if the statement is true. It has been fairly well established by the courts that a true statement cannot be considered defamation. It is also fairly well established that if you honestly believe in good faith something is true and it turns out to be untrue that you can't be sued for defamation. It is important when you are considering whether something is true or not to distinguish between fact and opinion. An opinion is not actionable.

Opinions can not normally be considered as defamation since they can't be proven true or untrue. You are also allowed to make fair comment on a matter of public record. This means that as long as the comments weren't made with malice you can usually express your opinion on a matter of public interest.

In order to be considered as defamation there has to be real damage to the reputation of the injured party. This means that the statement has to be communicated to a third party, there is no defamation if the matter remains private. It is also not considered to be defamation if the third party doesn't believe the statement or has no interest in the statement. It is also possible that a persons reputation could be so low that any further statements could do no more harm, these people are said to libel-proof.

According to, defamation lawsuits are difficult to win primarily because they run contrary to the accepted principle of freedom of speech and freedom of the press. These are constitutionally protected rights and it is considered important to protect them. By definition any laws against defamation seek to put a limit on freedom of speech and freedom of the press, therefore they are usually only very narrowly applied. In order to win a defamation lawsuit it is necessary to prove that there was a gross violation and that the defendant knowingly made statements that were untrue with the specific intention of damaging your reputation and that real damage was done. These are not easy to prove and there are a number of defenses available.