It’s devastating when someone defames you. In today’s hyper-connected world, a wrongdoer can broadcast their attack to millions of people within seconds. That attack may ruin your reputation. It might even land you in jail. If you’re a defamation victim, you need to contact an Atlanta defamation lawyer.
At Allen & Scofield Injury Lawyers, our Atlanta personal lawyers have successfully represented defamation victims for decades. We’ll help you clear your name. Then, we’ll recover the compensation you deserve.
What Is Defamation?
Defamation is a false statement that harms your reputation. There are two types of defamation: libel and slander. Slander is a false oral statement. Libel is a false written statement.
Slander claims are harder to prove than libel claims. Why? Because spoken defamation isn’t usually recorded. Additionally, slander claims require you to prove a financial loss.
However, some slander claims are actionable per se – without proof of financial loss – if they damaged your business or your professional reputation. Other slanderous statements are actionable per se if the speaker claims:
- You committed a crime
- You’re a “slut”, or,
- You’ve got a “loathsome disease”
Truth is an absolute defense to a defamation claim.
If someone spreads lies about you, you should call an Atlanta defamation lawyer. Your lawyer will analyze each harmful lie. Then, if the lie is actionable, your lawyer will help you win justice.
A wrongdoer libels you when they publish their harmful lies to a third party. The publisher is responsible for the harm – even if they didn’t author it. Therefore, if someone re-publishes a defamatory social media post, they’re just as culpable as the person that wrote the original post.
Most of our clients ask us, “what damages can I recover?” There are three types of defamation damages:
- Actual Damages – Actual damages (a.k.a. “special” damages) are quantifiable damages. If the defamatory statement harmed your business, or caused you to lose your job, you can recover your lost profits or lost wages. Also, you can recover pain and suffering compensation.
- Presumed Damages – Presumed damages include reputational damage compensation.
- Punitive Damages – Punitive damages punish malicious wrongdoers. You may only recover punitive damages in a libel case if the wrongdoer refuses to “retract” the false statement.
If someone libeled you, you should contact an Atlanta defamation lawyer. Your lawyer will prepare a Georgia retraction demand. Next, your lawyer will hand-deliver that demand to the wrongdoer. That way, they can’t deny they received it.
Many wrongdoers ignore your retraction request. If so, don’t worry. You can now sue them for punitive damages!
If they retract their false statements, you can still sue them to recover actual and presumed damages. After all, it’s hard to “unring that bell” when someone defames you.
Some defamatory statements are non-actionable because they’re privileged. “Privileged” means that the person making the statement has the right to make that statement at that time – even if it’s false and harmful.
For instance, in Georgia, courtroom statements and filings are absolutely privileged. However, the statements must be relevant to the court issues.
Some defamatory statements are covered by a qualified privilege. Qualified privileges are more limited than absolute privileges. Thus, a victim may overcome them by proving that the statement was malicious.
The following statements are protected by a qualified privilege:
- Government officials’ statements
- Citizen testimony during legislative sessions
- Self-defense statements
- Danger warnings
- Some statements made by a former employer to a potential employer regarding an employee
Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP)
Some people file lawsuits to punish others that exercise their First Amendment rights (SLAPP lawsuits). If someone filed a SLAPP lawsuit against you, you should hire an Atlanta defamation lawyer.
At Allen & Scofield Injury Lawyers, we don’t tolerate SLAPP lawsuits. They give legitimate defamation victims a bad name.
Wealthy individuals and businesses often file SLAPP lawsuits. Their lawsuits aim to crush common folks’ free speech rights. Many employers file SLAPP lawsuits against their former employees. Some retailers even sue their users for posting negative reviews.
If someone wealthy or powerful is trying to silence you, we can help you. For instance, we’ll demand that the plaintiff verify that their lawsuit is justified. If they don’t file that verification within 10 days, the court may dismiss their case. Even if they verify their claims, we can still move to dismiss the case. If you win that motion, you can potentially recover your lawyers’ fees and expenses.
Allen & Scofield Injury Lawyers Can Help
At Allen & Scofield Injury Lawyers, our Atlanta personal lawyers feel your pain. False allegations are agonizing. You may feel helpless. However, if you don’t act quickly, you’ll lose the chance to win justice.