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How to Prove Defamation

Posted by Kathy Harrington-Sullivan | Dec 20, 2013 | 0 Comments

Imagine you're a contractor. A homeowner who hired you to perform work at his house turns around and criticizes your work on a review site. In turn, other customers you've spoken with decide to go with your competitors.

Since the homeowner's review affected your business, can you sue for defamation?

It's important to look closely at his exact statement and your own business practices. If you professionally performed all the work outlined in the contract, and your customer is simply unsatisfied with your work, you may have no legal recourse if his review is based on opinion. However, if he falsely stated you took dangerous shortcuts in derogation of professional building codes, and you subsequently lose income due to the false rumor circulating in the professional community, you may have a case.

Defamation can be one of the most difficult cases to prove. However, if false statements are circulated about you, and those statements damage your professional reputation, you may be able to sue that individual for the financial damages you have incurred as a result.

In order to sue for defamation, you must be able to:

You may have a case for defamation if one's statement encompasses the following:

  • False – No matter how scathing a review or how hurtful a comment, you can't sue for defamation if the statement can't be proved to be objectively false. Also, in Georgia, you will need to be able to present evidence of the actual words used by the person who has defamed you.
  • Published – A third party must see or hear the false statement for it to be considered defamation. For instance, if someone publishes a false comment about you in an Internet chat room that states you are guilty of committing a crime, this would more than likely suffice to meet the “publication” requirement pursuant to Georgia defamation law.
  • Injurious – If the comment causes damage to you, it is considered injurious. For instance, if someone starts an untrue rumor that you are doing drugs, and you lose your job because of it, you should consult a defamation attorney.
  • Unprivileged – In some cases, individuals cannot be sued for making defamatory allegations. This may include witnesses who testify in court or legislators who make comments in certain situations. Also, in an employment context, employees who have an intra corporate privilege to convey information to other employees that have a duty or authority to receive the information may be protected by a privilege.

The above examples are general guidelines but do not encompass the complexities of defamation law. Defamation can be disastrous to an individual's professional reputation. If the lies spoken or written by someone else have caused you to endure damages, contact the defamation attorneys at Barrett & Farahany, LLP, LLP. We can help you determine if you have a civil case, and if necessary, take that individual to court to secure the damages incurred by his or her false statement.

About the Author

Kathy Harrington-Sullivan

Kathy Harrington Sullivan is a Partner at Barrett & Farahany who helps potential clients understand the law, clarify their rights, and determine which steps they can take to protect themselves and their jobs.


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