In Charlotte, North Carolina, defamation refers to any false statement that affects the reputation of another person, and is not an element of free speech and opinion. There are two types of defamatory statements, libel and slander. All defamatory statements that are published through written communication are considered libel, whereas verbal or spoken defamatory statements are slander. Undoubtedly, it is much more difficult to prove slander, because unlike printed statements, verbal statements can easily be covered up or lied about.
Elements of a Slander Lawsuit in Charlotte, North Carolina
Not every spoken negative statement can be considered slander. There are a set of facts that your case must embody for it to be considered a case of slander. The elements of a cause of action for slander in Charlotte, North Carolina include:
- A false statement: While filing a lawsuit for defamation in the form of slander, you must bear in mind that you will only have a case if the spoken statement was false. A true statement cannot be considered slander.
- The statement was spoken to a third party: If the statement was only communicated to you, then no harm will come to your reputation or character; and so, the statement will not come under defamation of character unless it is spoken to a third party.
- The speaker knew or should have known that the statement was false: If the speaker knew or should have known that the statement was potentially false, but communicated it to a third party, anyway, then the speaker acted negligently. Negligence is an important element of a slander lawsuit.
- The statement caused some kind of harm to you: The harm caused to you could involve your reputation or your personal or professional relationships, for example. If the statement caused no harm, then you do not have a valid claim.
How Can the Victim of a Slanderous Statement Prove Defamation of Character?
Generally, when someone files a suit for slander, they have a difficult battle ahead of them. This is slander is much more difficult to prove than written libel, and it usually does not cause as much harm as libel. However, if someone’s slanderous statements about you did in fact negatively affect you, then you would be wise file a claim and strive to prove your case. Proving slander involves proving defamation of character. You must prove that the speaker used defamatory language that in some manner affected your reputation, questioned your morality and integrity, or damaged your personal and/or professional relationships.
You will then have to prove that a third party heard the defamatory statement, and that the speaker acted with negligence. To prove slander, you do not need to establish that the speaker intended to defame you or acted out of malice; you only need to prove that they acted recklessly and without reasonable care, and this affected you in a major way.
Further, you must prove that the slanderous statement was false. Some statements may have a mixture of truth and falsehood in them. In such cases, you must prove that the false part of the statement directly affected you and caused some kind of harm. For example, if you were arrested, and someone revealed this fact to someone, then this is not an untrue statement. However, if they state that you were arrested for child abuse, when you were actually arrested for something else entirely, then this statement has an element of truth (you were arrested) and an element of falsehood (you were not arrested for child abuse).
Lastly, and most importantly, you must prove any personal, monetary, or professional harm. Slanderous statements can cause harm in several ways. For example, your employer may start to think that you are not trustworthy and you might lose future employment opportunities. If the slanderous statement was about your business, then you might start to lose clients and customers. If the slanderous statement was about your character, then it might cause problems with personal relationships. In the example above, your relationships with your own children could even be affected. If you are a separated or divorced non-custodial co-parent, and the custodial parent was informed that you were arrested for child abuse, when this is an untrue statement, then they may wish to stop your visitation with your children. This could lead to personal and legal expenses, lost time with your children, and further harm. Whatever the harm may be, you must be able to prove it in court. You might provide evidence of lost clients, lost income, lost parenting time, or lost relationships, for example.
The Requirements for Proving Slander are Different for Public Figures
If you are a public figure, most of your life is open to scrutiny by the public eye. Public figures do not have as much protection from slander as private figures. When a public figure files a claim for slander, he or she must prove all of the above elements that constitute normal slander, but will also have to prove the existence of actual malice. This means that a public figure will also have to show that the speaker not only acted recklessly or negligently, but also that the speaker spoke the slanderous statement with an intent to cause harm.
Contact Ted A. Greve & Associates to Discuss Your Defamation Personal Injury Claim
Since slanderous statements are only spoken statements, it could be difficult to prove that the statement was even made. Even if there is proof of the statement, it might be difficult to find the source. In our example of being arrested, and finding out that someone spread a false rumor as to the cause of your arrest, you may not know who spoke the lie.
In such a case, all of the elements needed to prove a case of slander are present, including false statement, actual harm, damage to your reputation, and the existence of a third party. However, you do not know who started the rumor, so you don’t know who to file a claim against. The attorneys at Ted A. Greve & Associates can help you by investigating the claim and discussing your options. Further, working with a compassionate Charlotte, North Carolina personal injury lawyer on your case for slander and defamation of character will ensure that you present the strongest case to recover compensation. Call us to schedule your free consultation today.