Your reputation is one of the most important things you have. It can take years to build up, but it only takes a few moments to destroy. When you work in a business that requires a good reputation, one of the worst things that can happen to you is to have someone attempt to destroy that reputation. When this happens, you might wonder what you can do to make it stop. Understanding the answer to that question requires that you first understand a bit about defamation.
It’s easy to immediately assume that an assault on your reputation requires some kind of legal repercussions. You’ve certainly experienced harm because of the other person’s actions – but that doesn’t necessarily mean you are owed something in return. What you and your attorney must first figure out is if the actions of the other party rise to the level of defamation.
Defamation is a legal principle with five parts. While the laws vary from state to state, defamation can best be defined as a published (or public) false statement made by another person that does not fall into a protected category and that causes harm to another person. As you might be able to see, defamation has some very stringent requirements.
If you unpack the definition, you can see that defamation requires certain actions to occur. First, it requires that there is a statement – it can be spoken (slander) or written (libel). If the issue at hand is an action like refusing to shake a hand, for example, there is no defamation.
Next, the statement must be published. That doesn’t necessarily mean it must be written down, but that the statement is seen by another party. Saying something untrue about another person is not defamatory, then, if it is not said where others can hear it. It’s also important that the statement is false – a true statement simply isn’t defamatory, either.
Protected categories are a bit trickier, usually involving either witnesses at trial or public figures. In either case, only a defamation attorney will be able to help you figure out if the statement was in a privileged category. Finally, the statement must cause harm – and more than just hurt feelings. It must be shown that a defamatory statement caused you actual, measurable harm. The loss of reputation must lead to something that is measurable by the courts, such as the inability to find work or the cancellation of contracts.
How a Lawyer Can Help
So, what can a defamation attorney do to help rehabilitate your reputation? It largely depends on exactly what’s been done. Defamation is not a criminal act, but it is something that can have a civil consequences. With the help of an attorney, you can bring a suit against the other party for defamation. This will help make it a matter of record that the other party lied, hopefully helping you to put to rest any rumors about your reputation.
If the matter is ongoing, a lawyer can also help to make sure that it stops. He or she can send takedown notices to website to remove any offending comments and send cease and desist letters to anyone who happens to be actively trying to undermine your reputation. Often, the threat of a suit will be enough to stop the spread of false claims.
Defamation is a serious matter. If your reputation is under attack because of false claims, it’s important that you contact an attorney. Without help, you might risk losing the one asset that you cannot reclaim – your reputation.
Mark Tate and his staff at Tate Law Group in Savannah GA can help you determine if there are grounds for action to repair your damaged reputation. Call us today!