If a person is tarnishing your name and reputation by spreading false statements about you, the best way to stop this is by suing them for slander. Read on to learn what slander is and the claims that are acceptable.
What Is Slander?
This is any oral statement that is false and which tarnishes the reputation of the one it is addressed to. The difference between slander and libel is that slander is an oral defamatory statement whereas libel is a written defamatory statement. For example, when a person falsely declares you a murderer in the presence of your wife, this oral declaration qualifies as slander. However, when one makes an untrue post on a news paper or social media calling you a murderer, this written declaration qualifies as libel.
Does the Speaker Need to Know that the Statement Was False?
When filing a slander lawsuit, you have to present evidence that the statement was false. For example, if someone calls you a murderer, you can prove that their statement is untrue if you have no criminal record. On the other hand, under the law on slander, the person publishing an oral statement is not required to have knowledge of the falsity of a statement. The law is concerned with the publisher's intention.
Therefore, if someone publishes a defamatory statement about you (you use drugs, for example) while thinking that they are making a positive statement, you can hold the publisher liable for slander if their statement harms your reputation or character. However, if a person publishes a statement that is normally not regarded as defamatory (you drive a Mercedes Benz, for example) and you find these remarks as insulting, the publisher can argue that they never knew that their statement amounted to defamation and therefore, this case is not actionable.
Should the Publisher Intentionally Publish the Statement?
When filing a claim on slander, you need to prove that the statement was uttered. Unless the accused person (defendant) admits to uttering defamatory statements, the only way to prove that they actually made certain statements is by having witnesses. However, there is another twist to the "utterance concept". According to the law on slander, the publisher has to communicate information with the intention of making it known to another person. If a publisher makes a defamatory statement without knowing that anyone will hear it and there happens to be someone who hears it, this cannot be regarded as slander.
Furthermore, if someone makes a defamatory statement about you and you are the only person who hears it, then you cannot take any action against them. The law on slander requires that publication is addressed to another party (third party).
Slander Claims and Damages
For you to succeed in claiming slander, you need to show financial damage. Apart from emotional harm, you are required to show tangible harm. For example, if you are dismissed from work, you should prove that your dismissal was caused by a defamatory statement and not for other reasons such as incompetence or ineptness.
Learn more about your options by contacting a law firm like Stokes Legal.