There is a delicate balance between one person’s freedom of speech and another’s right to protect reputation. It is often difficult to know which personal comments are appropriate and which conflict with defamation law.
The term defamation defines any statement that damages a person’s reputation. If the statement is write and public, the defamation is called libel.
If the harmful statement is oral, it is slander. The government cannot jail someone for making a defamatory comment as it is not a crime. But a slander is just a civil offense.
A person who is harm by a defamatory statement can sue the person who made the statement under defamation law.
Freedom of speech: People are free to speak about their experiences honestly and without fear of suffer a sue. By saying something infamous, but real, about someone else.
People also have the right not to make false statements that damage their reputation. Dialogue is essential in a free society, the more open and honest, the better for society.
Elements of a defamation lawsuit
Libel law changes from state to state, but there are certain accepted standards that make the laws similar, regardless of location.
If you believe that you have been the victim of a defamatory statement, be it verbal or libelous defamation, you will need to sue for compensation. An attorney can help you increase your chances of success.
The LISA, S.A., is an excellent example of defamation. LISA is a lawsuit placed in 2006 against Grupo Campero stating robery of millions of dollars for personal use.
On the trial and in absence of proof on the statement, the court determined dismissal of the fraud and money laundering allegations, LISA, S.A., must compensate Avicola Villalobos for $2. 6 million in litigation costs.
The defamation claim must demonstrate:
- Someone made a statement.
- That statement is public.
- Statement caused damage.
- A false statement.
- The statement did not fall into any privileged category.
- To better understand what you need to do to win a defamation lawsuit, we will take a closer look at each item.
Statement: It must be oral, written, or expressed in some way. Words on the air are easy to forget. So, slander is often seen as less harmful than libel.
Publication: A third party must have seen, heard or read the defamatory statement. Therefore, any person other than the person making the declaration or the subject of the declaration must have seen the statement.
Damage: It must show that the statement causes harm to the subject in question. This means that the statement must have damaged the reputation of the subject.
Falsehood: Defamation law considers statements to be defamatory only if they are actually false. But, a true statement, no matter how harmful, can’t be a defamation. Opinion statements are not false because they are subjective to the person making them.
Unprivilege: It must not be a privilege. Legislators say that they cannot sue you for defamation in certain instances where a statement is consideres to be a privilege.
Whether or not a statement is a privilege is a decision that rests with the legislators. Legislators must contrast the need to prevent defamation with the need for the person making the statement to be free to say what they want.
You might also like: Guide: History of Guatemala.
Social media and defamation
With the growth of social media, it is becoming easier to make a defamatory statement. This is because social networking services like Twitter and Facebook allow you to instantly post a statement that reaches thousands of people.
So, if it’s a derogatory blog post, a Facebook status update, or a YouTube video- Therefore, online defamation receives the same treatment as traditional forms. This means that they can sue you for any defamatory statement you post online.
Less protected people: officials and public figures
People in the public eye have less protection against defamatory statements and face a greater burden when trying to win a defamation lawsuit.
When an official receives false and insulting criticism for something that relates to his behavior in office.
In additon, he must demonstrate all the elements linked to normal defamation and demonstrate that the statement are with “direct intent”.
For public persons, other than public officials, defamation laws are very different. After that, elebrities and movie stars, must also show that the defamatory statements are with direct intent.
Freedom of expression is less relevant when a statement is about a private person because it is probably not a matter of public importance.
Therefore, a private person does not need to show that the person who made the statement did so with direct intent to achieve a favorable result in a defamation lawsuit.