Do I Have a Viable Claim for Slander?
Slander and other defamation claims are popular among politicians and corporations following the 2020 elections. However, defamation lawsuits can be difficult to win even for those with significant influence and money. Americans with far less wealth or power will be fighting an uphill battle in filing or beating a claim for slander. Below are some guideposts to keep in mind when meeting with an attorney to discuss your slander case:
Speech Is Subject to Constitutional Protection
Slander, like most defamation claims, is difficult to win due to the constitutional protections attached to free speech. While a private citizen is not limited by the First Amendment, the judicial system is. As such, courts cannot take any action that may violate the Constitution, even if the dispute involves two private parties.
As such, courts are obligated to dismiss any slander claims that run afoul of the First Amendment. This may include any cases that involve criticism of a government official or entity, any claims about asking a government official or entity for assistance, and any claims involving privileged speech such as attorney-client speech or doctor-patient speech. Any slander case will require extensive legal research and argument regarding how a state or federal Constitution applies or doesn’t apply.
Opinions are Not Legally Slander
A defendant is only liable for slander if they speak a false statement that causes a loss of reputation or standing as to the plaintiff. However, this only holds true as to factual statements. A person’s opinion legally cannot constitute slander. A defendant’s opinion about a plaintiff’s job performance, work or dating preferences, and/or political views typically fall into the category of protected opinions even if those opinions can be very offensive to some people. Many people have a difficult time distinguishing between opinion and factual statements, but the distinction is critical in assessing a case about slander or any other type of defamation claim.
Slander Cases Are Detail Intensive
The truth is a defense to any defamation claim, which includes any claim involving slander. In order for a plaintiff to prevail on slander, they must prove that the speech was unequivocally false. This will require a jury and/or a judge to listen to witnesses retell exactly what was said by whom and to whom. All parties will require substantial time and money to find all witnesses involve, interview them, prepare them for trial, and to ask excruciating detailed questions about what the witnesses said or heard.
This is especially difficult because slander, by definition, does not leave a written record as to what was said. As such, the court will be relying solely on witness testimony, which may be incorrect or contradictory. All this work means that litigating a case about slander potentially very long and expensive.
Do I Need an Attorney for My Slander Case?
If you are dealing with slander or any other kind of defamation case, you should consult with a skilled and knowledgeable personal injury lawyer. A personal injury attorney can inform you of your rights, and determine whether any defenses are available to you based on the specifics of your case. Additionally, the attorney can help you compile evidence supporting your claim and represent you in court.