Defamation: It's Happened to Me, It Can Happen To You
When you do a search the term “defamation”, a lot of intimidating legal articles will be found. That said, it is tedious to say the least, as you sift through the tons of information online. You will see a trend develop as you learn more however…that is, how defamation can hurt you, individually and/or professionally.
As a person currently dealing with the cost of defamation, I feel compelled to share the things I have learned to date. I want to note that my issues here are far from over and I hope to update this article as I move toward a successful resolution.
It is important to note…there is help and guidance available as YOU seek to move forward.
1. What Exactly is Defamation?
The definitions of defamation vary from state to state. Generally speaking, it is a published statement that is false, injurious, and/or unprivileged. This statement can be written, spoken, pictured or gestured. A must have somehow witnessed the presentation of false information. The statement must be provably false and must demonstrate reputational damage. Finally, the statement must be unprivileged, meaning statements in a courtroom or made under oath do not count as defamation.
2. What is an example of Defamation?
Let’s create an example of what defamation is. Say that someone Yelped about your business, saying that they were “ripped off” and overcharged when they bought a bicycle from you.
Because Yelp is a public forum, other people can see the review as written. To fight this claim and prove it to be false, the following information must be documented: you must have a signed contract, which lays out the actual cost, as well as a detailed invoice showing a customer signature and agreement to pay.
Now let’s say that because of the negative review, your business has lost customers. This is the “proof of injury”. Finally, since the review wasn’t made in a courtroom, and isn’t evidenced in a legal trial, it is unprotected. With all of these details in place, you have your evidence.
First and foremost, you need to gather evidence.
3. What Are the First Steps to take if you have been the victim of defamation?
First and foremost, you need to gather evidence. Get the proof you need in order to demonstrate that the information posted about you is false. This can take the form of emails, contracts, invoices, etc.
Next, check to see how the defamation has impacted your business and/or personal life. IE: as a result of the false review, you are now seeing a “pile on” effect, meaning people are making bad reviews because they saw the false review. Has business been uncharacteristically slow? The more information you can provide, the better your chances to successfully defend yourself.
4. When Do You Seek Legal Advice?
Here’s the thing…if defamation has significantly damaged your business and reputation, and it does not look like there is a way to get that information removed without the help of an attorney, now is the time to consider retaining one. Sometimes, it is better to hire the “expert”.
Do your best to remind yourself frequently that it will all work out.
5. What’s the Most Important thing to Remember when Dealing with Defamation?
Don’t panic! Seriously, that’s the most important thing to remember. The best offense is a good defense. Keep moving forward and pushing through. If you take the necessary steps to prove that the defamation is inaccurate or false, then you will have done your job, and put yourself in the best position to resolve it.
6. How Do You Move Forward after being the victim of Defamation?
When you are the victim of defamation, it will likely feel difficult to move forward. Your business, and/or personal life may be seriously affected. Your nerves may be on end as you deal with the ramifications.
This is quite a burden for sure. Make sure to reach out to family and friends for comfort. Tell them how difficult this is to deal with this. Take many deep breaths. Give yourself space and time to recharge. Never forget that you are being proactive. Finally, do your best to remind yourself frequently that it will all work out.
I wish you the best of luck. Please comment and I will do my best to reply promptly
An important note: this is not legal advice. Simply a “helping hand” from someone who is currently dealing with the cost of defamation.