Kansas City Defamation of Character Lawyer
When someone ridicules you, holds you in contempt, scorns you, or shames you through false or defamatory statements, those statements can have tangible and profoundly damaging consequences. Many individuals and businesses lose their reputations, suffer negative financial consequences, and often experience mental and physical health issues as a result of defamatory statements.
Fortunately, you have options if you’ve been a victim of defamation. Under state defamation laws, you may have a legal opportunity to hold the individual who defamed you responsible. Working with a Kansas City defamation of character lawyer is the best way to get a comprehensive understanding of how to approach your defamation case under Missouri or Kansas law, including what steps to take and what to expect during the course of your case.
What Is Defamation of Character?
When you’re pursuing a defamation of character case, it’s important to understand the legal meaning of defamation and how that definition affects how you build your case.
Defamation refers to the offense that occurs when an individual makes one or more false statements about another person’s character, leading to some kind of harm. Historically, such claims were classified by how the statements were communicated: libel was defamation by printed words, and slander was defamation by spoken words. Today, the term defamation usually encompasses both written and spoken false statements that cause harm to reputation.
Defamatory statements can be communicated, or published, in many different ways:
- Online articles
- Social media posts
- Blog posts
- Publishing something in the newspaper
- Spoken on television
- Published in a book
- Said on the radio
- Written on picket signs
If you’ve seen posts or physical written statements of someone publishing false statements about you, or have audio recordings of spoken defamatory statements, you should save copies of them because they may be valuable evidence of your case.
What Elements Need to be Proven in a Defamation Case?
The key element of a defamation case is proving that the individual you’re suing made false statements about you to another person that caused you reputational harm. Whether you are pursuing a defamation case based on written or spoken statements, the court will expect you or your attorney to prove that the following elements are true:
- The person made the statement
- The statement was communicated verbally or in writing to another person
- The statement was untrue
- The statement isn’t legally privileged or subject to immunity
- The statement was made with malice
- The reputational harm you sustained resulted from the statement
To prove these elements requires the following:
Proving the Statement Was Made
In order to have and pursue a defamation of character case, the first step is to prove that the statement was spoken, written, gestured, or published. It’s important to note that since the existence of written or published statements often lasts longer in the place where they were uploaded, most courts, juries, and insurance companies consider libel to be more harmful than slander.
The Statement Was Communicated
Proving that the statement was communicated to others means establishing that the statement was seen or heard by a third party.
The Statement Is False
A defamatory statement must be false to be considered damaging under the law. Even if the statements made are degrading or mean-spirited, if they are true or hold some merit of truth, they do not count as defamation because they cannot be proven objectively false.
The Statement Was Malicious and “Injurious”
The basis of defamation law is to hold a person accountable for injuring another person’s reputation, so to have a case, the person suing must be able to demonstrate that the false, defamatory statement hurt their reputation. This harm can look like this:
- A person losing their job
- A person being shunned by friends, neighbors, or even family members
- A person being harassed by the press or other individuals
Injurious means to cause or likely cause harm. For a strong case, you or your attorney must be able to establish the defamatory statement was done out of malice and is injurious.
The Statement Caused You Harm
It’s not enough to show that a statement was false and done with malicious intent; it must also have caused you some kind of harm. When it comes to a defamation case, one of the most challenging aspects is to prove that the harm you suffered is linked to the defamatory statement.
To receive damages for your case, you must prove that you suffered harm to your reputation, perhaps including financial losses, as a direct result of the defamation. While defamatory statements are untrue and usually malicious, not every negative statement merits the label of defamation under defamation of character laws. Furthermore, a statement is not considered defamatory if it can be proven to be an opinion.
Contact Our Kansas City Defamation of Character Lawyer at Hollis Law Firm
False and injurious statements violate defamation laws, and a court can hold those who make them accountable. A defamation case can be quite complex and often requires a skilled and experienced lawyer to build a strong defamation of character case that can achieve a successful outcome. Choosing the right law firm offers you the chance to build a strong attorney-client relationship that can help you get the justice you deserve.
At Hollis Law Firm, we believe in building strong relationships with our clients so we can get all the necessary evidence and seek a successful outcome. Schedule a consultation with us today by filling out our contact form or contacting us at (800) 701-3672.
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