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Slander vs. Libel: What Are The Differences?

Slander vs. Libel: What Are The Differences?

When most people think about personal injury, they think about the kind of injury that ends in a trip to the hospital. That’s not always the case.

Slander, libel, and other types of defamation injure your reputation and even your ability to earn a living. People who sue an employer for a workplace-related injury sometimes encounter situations where their employer literally adds insult to injury by defaming the employee who got hurt.

Below, we’ve outlined some of the key differences between slander and libel and how they affect personal injury law. If you believe you’re ready to file a personal injury claim, please call the experienced New York personal injury lawyers of Schwartzapfel Lawyers at 516-342-2200 for a free consultation.

What Is Defamation Of Character?

Slander and libel are legal terms that relate to defamation law. When you file a defamation lawsuit, you need to be clear about the types of defamation you’re referring to. You need to know the difference between slander and libel, and sometimes, you’ll find that your defamation case involves both.

Defamation involves a private figure or a public figure (like the owner of a company) making statements about someone else with actual malice. Actual malice means that something was said with a specific intention to ruin someone’s reputation, cause them to lose their source of income, or destroy vital aspects of their life.

Defamation is different from freedom of speech because freedom of speech relates to the expression of ideas or opinions, while defamation relates to actively attempting to cause heavily impactful harm to someone through a lie.

There are two main forms of defamation that generally follow the same guidelines, although there may be some differences depending on state law. It may be easier or more difficult to prove defamation in some cases. The amount of evidence required could be more substantial, and you may not be allowed to use certain types of evidence (like recordings) depending on your state’s laws regarding recording another person.

What Is Slander?

Slander is any defamatory statement that harms the reputation of a public figure or private individual. Moreover, the statement in question has to be a false statement in order to be considered slander.

That said, negative opinions typically constitute a form of free speech, which is a protected First Amendment right. However, if someone were to lie and say that a co-worker stole their work uniform, then that statement would likely be considered slander. Broken down, their statement is a falsification of fact made with reckless disregard for the truth, said in such a way as to cause the co-worker harm.

To learn more now, call Schwartzapfel Lawyers at 516-342-2200 or visit us online to schedule your free consultation today. Alternatively, please continue reading.

What Is Libel?

Libel is a similar concept to slander, although it typically refers to written rather than verbal statements. When you bring a libel claim to court, you’re saying that something someone has published somewhere is intended to defame you or harm your reputation for an unwarranted reason.

Libel is more likely to affect a public figure that newspapers, online publications, or magazines usually write about. It’s unusual for the average private citizen to be the subject of a national news article.

Private citizens are sometimes subject to larger-scale libel if they’ve done something noteworthy, if they’re connected to a public figure, or if they become prominent in a small town. In modern times, becoming popular on the internet or “going viral” can also have a similar effect.

Note: There’s a difference in libel cases when it comes to social media posts. Social media posts are a way of writing something to the public, even if they don’t reach a large audience. If someone writes a false and defamatory statement about you on social media, their actions are considered libel. As well, their posts only need to be viewable by members of your community or people with whom you have an established relationship.

And so, if you have questions about whether an online post about you would be considered libel, please contact the skilled personal injury lawyers at Schwartzapfel Lawyers at 516-342-2200 or visit us online today!

Can Anyone Who Was Defamed File A Defamation Suit?

High-profile defamation cases are usually heavily publicized online and on television. You may have watched viral clips from a famous defamation trial on your cell phone or read about one in The New York Times or on Reddit. In turn, this may have given you the idea that defamation cases are only used in large-scale, national conflicts where everyone involved is a public figure. This isn’t true.

Most defamation cases occur between everyday people and don’t gain much traction in the national news cycle. It’s usually contrary to the point of a defamation case to draw a lot of attention to it.

Since a defamation case involves a harmful lie about a person, most defamation plaintiffs don’t want a large number of people to hear the lie as a result of their case becoming a major point of interest. This is sometimes referred to as the Streisand Effect, reflecting a situation where Barbara Streisand’s court case for infringement of her privacy only led to greater infringement of her privacy.

Note: While defamation cases are some of the most common cases heard in civil court, they vary in scale from very small claims to substantially large claims.

Moreover, anyone can file a defamation suit if they can prove they’ve been defamed by someone else. For instance, if your employer lies about you out of retaliation for whistleblowing, utilizing workers’ compensation insurance, or suing them for a workplace-related accident or injury, their lies may make it hard for you to find work in your industry. As such, you may be entitled to financial compensation for the damage their defamation caused.

How Does A Defamation Case Work?

Libel cases and slander cases usually work in a similar way because they are in the same area of law. The point is to prove that the plaintiff’s reputation was seriously damaged by intentional lies told by another person.

Reputational damage can affect both your personal and professional life. Damage can include things like harming your ability to get a job, ruining your relationship with your community, or causing loss of profits to a business you run.

A claim of harm in civil court is referred to as a “tort” in common law. You’ll prove the tort for your defamation claim by working with your skilled law firm or your seasoned lawyer to provide evidence to the court. Here, evidence can include any relevant materials concerning the publication(s) in question. To this end, text messages, voicemail messages, and legally obtained recordings may be used as evidence.

Do You Need Someone To Fight For You?

Schwartzapfel Lawyers has more than (150) years of combined experience successfully defending people just like you. And so, if you believe that your character has been defamed and it’s costing you, please know that you’re entitled to financial compensation.

Contact the award-winning legal team of Schwartzapfel Lawyers at 516-342-2200for a free consultation and/or case evaluation. No matter your situation, it will be our honor and privilege to fight for you!

DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this page should be considered legal advice. You should seek the appropriate counsel your situation requires. For more information, call 1-516-342-2200 now!


Schwartzapfel Lawyers, P.C. | Fighting for You

How Best to Explain “Actual Malice” to Juries? For Starters, Don’t Use Those Words | American Bar Association

Recording Phone Calls and Conversations | Digital Media Law Project

The Streisand Effect and Censorship Backfire | Jansen | International Journal of Communication

First Amendment and Censorship | Advocacy, Legislation & Issues

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