Slander Lawsuits: Legal Elements

A slander lawsuit in the United States requires proof of four essential elements. Slander is a malicious statement that can harm a person's reputation. If you feel that you might be the victim of a slander, you might wish to hold the person who made the statement responsible for any damages they may have caused, including damage to your reputation. Slander is different from libel in that it is spoken rather than written. Slander is falls under the more general term defamation.

The Elements of a Slander Lawsuit

A slander case will generally be handled in civil court under the tort system. In order to establish a claim for slander in court, you must be able to prove the following elements:

  1. A false and defamatory statement concerning another;
  2. The statement must be publicized to a third party (some person other than the person defamed by the statement);
  3. If the defamatory matter is of public concern (such as information about a public figure), fault amounting must be proved as well as to negligence on the part of the slanderer; and
  4. Damage to the plaintiff must be shown.

Defenses to a Slander Lawsuit

If you claim that you were slandered by another person, it is likely that a response by your alleged slanderer will include one or more of the following defenses to the tort:

  • Truth - if the statement is found to be truthful, then it was not slander.
  • Privilege - the person who made the statement had the right or responsibility to make the statement because of a special relationship or responsibility.
  • Opinion - some jurisdictions allow the defense of opinion because the slanderer must have known that the statement was untrue to make it slanderous.

Other defenses may be raised depending on the specific circumstances of your case and the jurisdiction in which your case is brought. For example, if similar statements were made by others in your community, or you are known in your community in a certain way, this may be raised as a potential defense to slander.

Getting Legal Help

If you are considering whether a slander lawsuit is appropriate in your situation, consult an experienced attorney in your state immediately. It is important to find out your rights early on in any potential case to preserve your right to file a lawsuit. An attorney will advise you of your rights, answer your questions about the law and help you with any suit you decide to file.

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