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Photo of attorneys E. Kelly Conway, Michael E. Gehring and Stephen G. Harvey

What is business defamation? 

On Behalf of | Apr 13, 2023 | Defamation

People often say things that aren’t true in order to hurt others. While people have free speech, it doesn’t mean everyone should have the freedom to spread lies, especially when they intend to damage the reputations of businesses.

Defamation cases are often very hard to prove without understanding the basics when filing a claim. If you’re looking to win a defamation claim, you may have to prove the following:

A statement was made

These falsehoods can be written – which is a form of libel – or spoken – which is a kind of slander. Many people believe that a written statement is worse than a spoken statement because writing lasts longer, and both are a form of defamation.

The statement was public

Statements must be made public to be actionable, such as on social media, newspapers, billboards, panels or rallies. A defamatory statement is actionable if it reaches even one person — but, when a statement reaches a wide enough audience and is repeated by others or published by third parties, that’s when a business can be seriously harmed. 

The statement caused damages

A business may have suffered damages if it lost customers, reputation or revenue after a written or spoken statement was made. A statement that suggests sexual misconduct or the abuse of minors can be especially damaging. 

The statement was false

A defamation case may only happen if a statement was false. A true statement may cause turmoil for a business but may not be considered defamation since the person making the statement may feel it was their duty to reveal the truth.

The individual who made the statement isn’t privileged

Some people who make false statements may have protected privileges. While this may not seem fair, these people are in a position where making such a statement is important, such as during a court trial. However, the privilege to make false statements is often still limited. 

Defamation cases are complex and you may need a strong understanding of the law before you recover from damages. Experienced legal guidance can help you evaluate your case.