What To Expect When Filing A Lawsuit For Defamation Of Character
Have you ever been defamed? If so, you’re likely feeling a range of emotions, from hurt and betrayal to anger and frustration. Your reputation is essentially destroyed, and everyone who used to respect you now looks at you suspiciously.
If this has happened to you, you may wonder what your next steps should be. Remember that every case is unique, but this post will give you a general overview of what to expect when pursuing legal action against someone who has maliciously attacked your reputation.
What Is Defamation of Character?
Defamation of character is when a false statement is made about an individual to harm their reputation. This can be done through either written or spoken word. Written defamation is called libel, whereas spoken defamation is called slander.
Defamation claims can be tricky because there are a lot of gray areas. What one person may consider defamation, another may not. This is why it’s important to consult an attorney before moving forward.
The Defamation Claim Process
The defamation claim process can take anywhere from a few months to several years, depending on the complexity of the case and the jurisdiction in which it is filed. In most jurisdictions, a Statute of Limitations requires a claim to be filed within a certain time frame, typically one year from the date of the alleged defamation.
In general, however, the process can be divided into three main stages:
- Pre-filing: Pre-filing stage typically involves consulting with an attorney.
- Filing: The filing stage is when the actual lawsuit is filed with the court. The complaint must allege that the defendant made a disparagement statement about the plaintiff and that this statement was published without justification or excuse.
- Post-filing: The post-filing stage includes discovery, motion practice, trial, and appeals. Each party gathers evidence from the other side. Once it’s complete, various motions are filed with the court.
These motions may ask the court to dismiss the case, rule in favor of one party based on the evidence, or schedule a trial. If a trial is held, a jury will ultimately decide whether the defendant is liable for defamation.
Denigration lawsuits are designed to hold the person who made the disparagement statements accountable for the damage they’ve caused. But how is that damage calculated?
In most denigration cases, damages are calculated based on the harm to the plaintiff’s reputation. This includes both economic and non-economic damages.
- Economic damages are typically awarded for lost earnings or business opportunities due to the plaintiff’s damaged reputation.
- Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are intended to compensate the plaintiff for intangible harms like emotional distress.
- Identify the statement or statements that were made that caused harm. These could be:
- Written (such as in an email or on a website)
- Spoken (such as in a conversation or over the phone)
- Conveyed through body language or other non-verbal communication.
- Once you identify the disparaging statements, you need to document:
- When they were made
- Where they were made
- Who made them
- Witnesses who may have overheard
This will help to establish a timeline of events and show that the statements were communicated to more than just yourself.
Protect Your Reputation With Hashem Law Firm
Defamation of character lawsuits can be complex and require the assistance of a professional lawyer as they require expert witnesses and extensive research. Hashem Law Firm can navigate the legal process and create a strong case on your behalf.
We’ll assess the strength of your case and determine if you can recover damages for the harm that has been caused. Contact us today to discuss your legal options.