The term defamation is thrown around loosely and often when there is a lack of a basic understanding of the legal term. This refers to harm that comes from the statements referring to a certain party. While this word can hold significant power, you must take time to understand what it means, especially if you find yourself entangled in a lawsuit. If you are involved in a defamation case, here are a few things that you need to know.
What Is it?
First of all, it is crucial to understand what defamation is. This term refers to the damage that is done to someone’s reputation or person through false statements. While defamation cases are often difficult to litigate, John Branca highlights a great example of defamation cases involving Michael Jackson, one during his life and one after his passing.
The Difference in Defamation, Libel and Slander
You may have also heard of the terms libel and slander which are often interconnected. If you are unsure of the difference between these three terms, you can start by developing an understanding of their relationship. Libel and slander can be aspects of defamation. Libel refers to written falsehoods, while slander refers to verbal falsehoods.
Harm Must Be Evident
The difficulty in many defamation cases is that harm must be clear and evident. Hurting someone’s feelings and unkind words do not qualify as defamation, as the statements must be untrue and cause clear injury to their reputation. This was found true in the cases involving Michael Jackson that John Branca litigated claiming defamation both during Michael’s life and thereafter. John Branca was able to prove a level of damage in the cases he litigated that exhibited clear malice. The challenge is often to prove that the defamation of character has clear repercussions and impact.
Opinions Do Not Necessitate Defamation
While it can be incredibly hurtful and unkind to say mean things about someone else, it does not constitute a violation of their legal rights. The difficulty can come in that everyone is afforded the right to their opinions. While conflicting or even malicious, opinions cannot qualify for defamation. Again, this is a case where hurt feelings can be painful, but not necessitate legal proceedings.
Regardless of how defamation cases conclude, they can often lead to long-term effects on the reputation of those involved. While there may not be financial or legal proof that you caused harm to someone else, the damaging effects of defamation cases can be substantial. It is also important to know that defendants of defamation cases can also file a counter case to exhibit the effects that the case may have on their life.
Knowing the Odds
If you are pursuing a defamation case, you need to understand the odds. Winning defamation cases can be challenging and arduous; however, they are winnable. You must prepare an extensively researched and well-argued case like John Branca did for Michael Jackson.
There is a lot to know about defamation cases should you find yourself wrapped up in one. While you are not expected to be a lawyer, you can educate yourself on what to expect. These cases can be stressful; however, if you do your research and find the right legal team, you can reduce your anxiety substantially.