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Elements of Defamation

By Eric Misterovich

When you are faced with Internet defamation or online libel, it is important to know the elements of defamation so that you can collect the evidence needed to prove your case. In most states, the elements of defamation are the following:

  1. A false statement of fact;
  2. Publication of the statement to a third party;
  3. That the statement concerns the plaintiff and tends to harm his or her reputation; and
  4. Fault amounting to at least negligence or, in the case of a public figure, actual malice, which is knowledge that the statement is false or reckless disregard as to its falsity.

Though a plaintiff may meet these elements, his or her claims may be subject to a qualified or absolute privilege, which may prohibit a successful defamation case. These privileges should also be considered “elements of defamation,” as they can have an effect of the success of a claim. Absolute privileges under state law may include privileges for statements made to legislative bodies, statements made in judicial proceedings, statements made by those in the executive branch while undertaking their duties, and domestic privileges protecting statements between husband and wife. Qualified privileges must be established by facts and may include statements made by former employers concerning work performance or other professional communications or substantially true statements. Typically, states provide a test for determining qualified privileges.

If you are facing a Internet defamation issue, contact the online defamation attorneys at Revision Legal at 855-473-8474.

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