Think you Have a Defamation Case?
Someone said something negative about you -- online or off -- and not only are you offended, you’re wondering whether you have any legal recourse against the speaker. If the statement rises to the level of defamation, you might be able to bring a civil lawsuit for libel (written defamation) or slander (spoken defamation), but this is a tricky area of the law.
The definition of defamation can vary from state to state, but in addition to some basic elements, you’ll almost certainly need to prove that the statement was false (and not just the speaker’s opinion, no matter how unflattering) and that you were harmed by it.
So, bringing a defamation lawsuit means you could be in for a fight. Especially if your harm was significant (your career suffered or you took a big financial hit because of the statement, for example), a defamation case isn’t something you want to tackle on your own. An experienced defamation lawyer will be well-versed in proving your case, and will be your skilled advocate when things get contentious.
Looking for a Lawyer?
At Lawyers.com, you’ll find a user-friendly search tool that allows you to tailor results by area of law and geography. You can also search for attorneys by name. Attorney profiles prominently display contact information, list topics of expertise, and show ratings—by both clients and other legal professionals.
Ready to Meet With a Lawyer?
Before hiring a lawyer or law firm, make sure to speak directly—preferably in person—to the attorney who will be primarily responsible for handling your case. Consider bringing to the conversation a list of questions and any documentation related to your case. Remember that you don’t need to hire the first lawyer you consult and that, first and foremost, you want a lawyer you trust.
What to Ask a Defamation Lawyer
When gathering your thoughts and documents, think about what you’ll want to ask the lawyer.
Consider including on your list questions about:
- the lawyer’s experience with defamation cases like yours
- the lawyer’s familiarity with the local court system
- how often the lawyer goes to trial (as opposed to settling)
- who else will work on your case
- attorneys’ fees and other expenses related to the case (including contingency fees and how fees might increase as the case progresses)
- how long the case might take, and
- the lawyer’s initial impressions of your case and options.