Words are powerful, and when they are used the wrong way, can be incredibly destructive. Untrue statements made by an organization or person have the potential to cause irreparable damage to your reputation or your livelihood. The area of the law that handles these matters is called defamation law, and it includes both libel, which is when defamatory claims are printed, and slander, which is when these claims are spoken.
Reach out to our California defamation attorneys if you feel you have a valid claim.
Defamation Law in California
It is essential to bear in mind that just because someone writes or says something you feel is offensive or hurtful, it does not inherently qualify as defamation. For a statement or statements to be defamatory, some basic elements must be proven, including:
- The statement made was untrue
- The statement was made by someone other than the claimant, to someone other than the claimant
- The statement cannot be privileged (i.e.; made to one’s own attorney or during a court proceeding)
- The statement must have resulted in some kind of damage
Defamation Per Se vs. Defamation Per Quod
In California, there are two classes of serviceable defamation claims: defamation per se and defamation per quod.
- Defamation per se: Damages against the person are presumed
- Defamation per quod: Damages, both general and monetary, must be demonstrated
Public Figures Defamation
Unique considerations are given to defamation claims made against public figures. For someone in the public eye about whom all manner of statements are commonly made, a defamation suit has to assert and establish that the defamatory statements were made with nefarious intent. This places a much heavier burden of proof on the plaintiff at trial and will be discussed at length as part of our evaluation of your potential defamation case.
In a defamation lawsuit, the aggrieved individual can be awarded three different kinds of damages:
- General damages: These are damages for the claimant’s hurt feelings, shame, mortification, and damage to their reputation
- Special damages: These are damages to the claimant’s trade, property, occupation, or profession
- Exemplary damages: These damages, also known as punitive damages, are granted at the discretion of the jury or the court. They are awarded in addition to special and general damages, and their purpose is to punish the offender who made a statement with genuine ill intent
Defense Against Defamation Case
In an attempt to avoid liability, a person being sued for defamation has several defense options available to them, including:
- Showing that the statement is factual
- Proving that no real damage has occurred
- Proving that they had permission from the claimant
- Establishing a claim of privilege or impunity
The Leiva Law Firm repeatedly provides a compelling legal defense for victims whose First Amendment rights are being oppugned by false claims of defamation.
Speak with a Los Angeles Defamation Attorney
If you feel that you may have a valid California defamation lawsuit or need legal counsel regarding accusations of defamation that have been made against you, contact the experienced Los Angeles defamation attorneys at Leiva Law. You can schedule a free, confidential consultation with a skilled legal professional at Leiva Law by calling (818) 519-4465 today.