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The Ins & Outs of Defamation Lawsuits in Indiana

The Definition of Defamation: Libel vs. Slander

“Defamation” is a term which covers the ways a false statement made about someone can damage their reputation. These cases can also be referred to as “defamation of character” or “disparagement.” Defamation occurs through statements made either orally or in print in a newspaper, magazine, online, or other printed sources. By legal definition, these false statements or communications cause emotional or financial harm to the individual discussed.

Defamation usually comes in the form of libel or slander. The difference is simple: A defamatory remark is considered libel if it is in written form, and is considered slander if it was spoken. Trade libel means any form of defamation that has direct impact on one’s business or occupation. An Indiana defamation lawyer can help you make this distinction if you are unsure; in some scenarios, the distinction could become less clear (like with Internet defamation, for example).

Defamation Per Se & Defamation Per Quod

Defamation per se refers to any publication or statement that is inherently defamatory. The victim does not need to prove material damage, because the damage can be easily presumed. For example, statements related to a plaintiff’s sexual conduct, insisting the plaintiff has a contagious disease, has committed a criminal act, or engaged in professional misconduct are all defamatory by themselves, and harm to one’s reputation is inherent in the statement.

Conversely, defamation cases can also be considered per quod, which is essentially the opposite of per se. Defamation per quod requires proof that material harm incurred as a result of given statements, as the harm is not considered obvious.

How to Determine If You Have a Valid Defamation Case

Suing for defamation can be a hard lawsuit to battle. We live in a country where freedom of speech is a crucial part of every person’s rights, but when their speech includes false statements that will damage others emotionally or financially, this becomes a major legal problem. However, not all statements that are negative are defamatory. For example, when someone says “I think” before a negative statement, it’s usually their opinion and does not qualify as defamatory.

  • Was the statement an opinion or not?
    • If it was an opinion, you probably don’t have a case.
  • Is there proof of the defamatory statement?
    • It could be written or recorded.
  • Is there proof of the damages or harm to reputation?
    • This could be financially, mentally, or physically experienced.
  • Do you have witnesses of who would testify your suffering?
    • They must be willing to testify as witnesses.

If you have answered no to the first question and yes to the last three, then you probably have a case. We can help you fight back the defamation and get compensated for the damages that it caused. Instead of worrying about a ruined reputation or a ruined business, let us help you build a strong case so that you can focus on rebuilding.

Can Online Posts Be Considered Defamation?

One of things that makes the United States great is the freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment. We have a right to review, post, comment, and tweet. However, not all types of speech are protected. Because Internet defamation is by definition written, rather than oral, it is technically libel. Most online defamation occurs by posting on Yelp, Twitter, Google Plus, and Facebook, or as a website comment, bulletin board post, business review, rating or blog post. When someone posts defamatory statements online, it is considered Internet defamation.

Statute of Limitations for Defamation Lawsuits in Indiana

In Indiana, the statute of limitations for defamation lawsuits is two years; that means you only have two years from the time you noticed the damage occurred to file your lawsuit. This is one area where Indiana is unique to other states. Outside of Indiana, the statute of limitations time clock starts from the moment the defamatory remark was made; in Indiana, you have two years from the time you actually noticed the damage. If you have questions about your case, the experienced lawyers at Riley Williams & Piatt can help you determine whether or not you have a valid lawsuit.

Contact Riley Williams & Piatt for a Free Case Evaluation

If you want to protect your reputation from harm, it is highly suggested that you contact an attorney to help fight these statements. At Riley Williams & Piatt, we are experts in defamation lawsuits and can help you fight in court. Our law firm has an impressive record of success in cases involving injury to one’s reputation, and we have accumulated more than $15 million for clients in these types of cases. We’ve even had one of the largest defamation verdicts in Indiana history.

If you believe you are a victim of defamation, contact Riley Williams & Piatt today for a free case evaluation.