What Is Defamation? Everything You Need to Know | Bantle & Levy



What Is Defamation? Everything You Need to Know

It’s never a good thing to be on the receiving end of false and defamatory statements by someone who means to belittle or shame you. In New York, hundreds of people end up losing their hard-earned reputation, incur financial losses, and even undergo mental trauma as a result of defamation.

If you’ve been a victim of defamation, you can file a lawsuit, claim damages, and restore your credibility. Conversely, if you’re accused of defaming someone, you have several defenses at your disposal.

Whatever the case, you need to act fast and hire a defamation attorney in New York. An experienced lawyer will be able to explain what defamation is, its various forms, the available remedies and defenses, and more.

What Is Defamation?

Legally speaking, defamation is a statement that harms the reputation of a third party. It includes libel as well as slander. Defamation actions are governed by the state common law and statutory law.

Dealing with defamatory statements from the legal point of view can be complicated as the line between facts and opinions can be blurry. Working with a seasoned defamation attorney in New York can be beneficial.

The laws related to defamation vary from state to state. However, a few factors remain the same throughout the U.S. To win a defamation lawsuit, you’ll need to provide compelling evidence to prove that:

  • A verbal or written statement was made about you
  • The defamation was published on a public platform
  • The statement harmed your character or reputation
  • The statement published was undoubtedly false
  • The statement was considered to be without privilege

These elements are known as a cause of action. Determining what’s true and false can conclude a defamation case once proven. But, the cause of action revolves around false statements, and it is crucial to prove that the statement in question harmed the plaintiff.

The winning side can then proceed to sue the losing party for compensatory and punitive damages. An experienced defamation attorney in New York can help maximize these amounts.

What Are the Elements of Defamation?

Now that you know about the types of defamation, let’s learn about the various elements involved in these cases.

1. Publication

To be considered defamation, the statement must be published, i.e., someone must write an untrue statement about another person on a public platform, or say something untrue to another person.

2. Identification

The defamed person should be clearly identifiable from the statement made. It should also be clear that the statement applies to that person only. If it doesn’t, it’s likely not defamation.

3. Defamatory Content

The statement made should have negatively impacted the way the defamed person is perceived by other people. A positive comment can’t be defamatory, even if it’s untrue.

4. Falsity

The statement made can be considered defamation only if it can be proven false.

5. Fault

The person being accused has to be proven to be the one who made the defamatory statement.

What Are The Defenses of Defamation?

If you’ve been accused of defamation, your New York defamation lawyer can use one or more of the following defenses:

1. Truth

If the statement made is objectively true, then the true doctrine will apply as a defense to defamation, even if the statement contains minor inaccuracies.

2. Opinion

When the statement in question can’t be determined as either true or false, the defendant can use the defense that their statements were an honest opinion.

3. Consent

If it is proven that the plaintiff consented to the publication of the statement, the defamation claim can be dismissed.

4. Statute of Limitations

If the plaintiff failed to file the defamation lawsuit as per the applicable New York statute of limitations, then the case can be dismissed or penalized.

What Are The Remedies for Defamation?

Mentioned ahead are some of the legal remedies that can be sought in defamation cases.

1. Monetary Damages

These refer to compensatory damages that can be awarded to the victim as financial compensation for the losses caused by the defaming party.

2. Injunctions

These are of two types: interim and final. The interim injunction stops the defaming party from publishing, both offline and online, until the end of the trial. This is done to prevent injustice. The final injunction stops any future publication of the defamation statement or similar content.

3. Retraction and Correction

This refers to removing false information and publishing the correct details. For instance, the court can order a website owner to remove a false statement or article, as applicable, from their platform.

4. Punitive Damages

This may be sought in cases where the plaintiff can prove that the defendant was especially malicious in their actions. These damages may be awarded to prevent the defendant from committing similar actions in the future.

Defamation and Social Media

Social media platforms are hotbeds of information where news travels faster than light. This information can make or break people’s reputations.

The posting of defamatory messages on social media – and on the internet in general – has brought with it unique concerns and challenges. False or one-sided material can be posted anonymously on websites and social platforms. Of course, owners of these platforms cannot be held liable for carrying such material.

If your reputation has been affected by social media defamation, a lawyer can provide valuable advice on how to manage the situation, have the content removed, and obtain monetary damages as per New York law.

On the other hand, if you’ve been accused of social media defamation, an attorney can help you with potential defenses as well as settle the claim.

Contact a Proven Defamation Attorney in New York for Legal Assistance

When your reputation is at stake due to defamatory statements made against you, you need to act fast to contain the damage. Alternatively, if you’ve been accused of defaming someone, working with an experienced lawyer is the best way to protect yourself.

From explaining what defamation is and types of defamation to shedding light on the defenses and legal remedies – they’ll handle it all.

The experienced attorneys at Bantle & Levy are here to offer powerful representation in your defamation lawsuit. Call us at 212.228.9666 or fill out our online form to schedule an appointment.

Bantle & Levy
Bantle & Levy

Lee Bantle is a partner at Bantle & Levy LLP. He has extensive legal expertise, admitted to the bars of the U.S. District Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals. With a distinguished academic background and clerkship experience, he has been recognized as a top-rated civil rights attorney and esteemed lawyer. In addition to his successful career, he has actively contributed to various legal organizations and serves as a faculty member for NYU's Annual Workshop on Employment Law for Federal Judges.


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