Bradenton Defamation Lawyer
The explosive use of social media platforms has led to explosions in other areas as well. For example, many consumer frauds, from chain letters to Ponzi schemes, circulate on platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Defamation, which is basically hurtful words which cause actual damages. These elements are rather subjective. Moreover, different defamation standards apply to public figures and private individuals. The line which separates the two is rather blurry.
At the Cahall Law Firm, our compassionate Bradenton defamation lawyers understand that the old phrase “sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me” is largely bunk. Words hurt, and in most cases, they hurt a lot more than sticks and stones. So, we work hard to obtain compensation for defamation victims. Similarly, we also understand how much a wrongful defamation allegation can hurt. So, we work just as hard in these situations.
For defamation purposes, most people are private citizens. In these cases, the basic elements of a defamation claim are:
- False Statement: This element is not as straightforward as it seems. Very few things in life, including most statements, are entirely true or entirely false. So, this element really means the statement is mostly Furthermore, the statement must purport to be true. “Reports indicate that Paul is legally insane” is not a false statement which purports to be true.
- Publication: This element is rather straightforward, at least in most cases. The person who made the statement either posted it or deleted it. Oral publication is a bit harder to prove in court, but such proof is usually not a problem.
- Fault: Many defamation claims hinge on this element. Usually, the fault must be at least negligence, which is basically a lack of care. It’s a bit easier to prove negligence in posting or other written word claims. Many people blurt things out they don’t mean. But the brief pause before they hit “send” usually excludes the “I take that back” defense.
- Damages: Hurt feelings are not actionable in court. A damaged reputation might be actionable. Normally, the plaintiff must prove that the reputational damage was also economic. Something like a bad restaurant review on Google could be actionable as well, provided it meets the other elements.
If the person is a public figure, most courts also require that the plaintiff prove actual malice. That state of mind is well beyond negligence or even recklessness. Defendants must intend to harm plaintiffs and not intend to draw attention to themselves.
Economic damages compensate plaintiffs for things like lost business and lost future economic opportunities. Sometimes these damages are relatively easy to calculate. Other times, our Bradenton defamation lawyers partner with accountants and other outside professionals.
Noneconomic damages for items like pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment in life are also available, at least in most cases. Courts award noneconomic damages only if the plaintiff also suffered an economic loss, as outlined above. Sometimes, Florida law caps noneconomic damages in defamation cases or forbids them entirely unless the plaintiff proves that special circumstances existed.
Reach Out to a Diligent Manatee County Lawyer
Aggrieved consumers usually have legal options in Florida. For a free consultation with an experienced defamation lawyer in Bradenton, contact the Cahall Law Firm, PLLC. After-hours, virtual, and home visits are available.