Maryland Defamation of Character Lawyers
With the growth in social media and new technologies, individuals have unfortunately found new and insidious ways to harm others. Defamation of Character, or the act of damaging or injuring someone’s reputation, has grown exponentially with the explosion of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and the like. What was once a spoken or written word can instantly become something seen by millions across the globe. The effects of defamatory statements can lead to severe and permanent injury. Having an attorney pursue your defamation lawsuit is critical and time can be of the essence.
Experienced Defamation Attorneys in Baltimore Maryland
Our clients benefit tremendously from our ability to identify and resolve defamation cases. If you are need of a defamation attorney in Baltimore or anywhere in Maryland call us at (410) 753-4611 or fill out the online form provided on this page. The attorneys at our law firm can provide an initial evaluation of your case entirely free of charge.Let us assist you personally with your defamation case. We offer our clients attention, compassion and believe in serving as strong advocates. We value your privacy and will keep any information strictly confidential.
What Must Be Proven In A Defamation Case?
With any defamation case, there is a burden of proof on the claimant . Someone must have made or published a false accusation or statement about another individual and that statement must be purporting to be a fact about that individual. The defamatory statement must have been published or made available to third persons. Depending on the circumstance, there must be at least a showing of negligence in the publishing of the defamatory statement. And there must be harm to the defamed individual, for example in that person’s reputation. Of course, the subject of the statement must be false.
There are a number of defenses to a claim for defamation, including justification, privileged statements, publication of public documents, fair reporting of proceedings of public concern, honest opinion, and innocent dissemination. These defenses all carry their own nuances.
Slander or libel are both types of defamation of character.
- Slander is defamation of character that is made orally to third persons.
- Libel is defamation of character that is undertaken with the written word.
The factors that must be proven in defamation cases hold true for both libel and slander and the defenses remain the same. An example of a defamatory statement would be if someone posted on social media that you were having an affair or were committing criminal acts, and that statement led to harm. For example, you lost your job or your spouse filed for divorce. If those statements were false, were made negligently, and caused harm to you, you may have a defamation claim against the individual who made those statements. You may have a suit against others who re-posted those allegations if certain factors apply.
Harm Caused By Libel And Slander
- Harm to reputation – For a business owner, false allegations can drive away customers. An employee can lose his or her job.
- Financial harm – Not only will loss of business or loss of employment accompany harm to reputation, victims can incur expenses in trying to repair the damage.
- Mental or physical anguish – health problems such as insomnia, depression, and anxiety can result from enduring false statements.
Discovery Is Necessary In A Defamation Case
In defamation cases, there is typically a lot of discovery necessary. To initiate a case, your counsel will file a complaint in Maryland courts. The court will issue a scheduling order followed by a period of ‘discovery’ in which both Plaintiff and Defendant will attempt to ascertain the facts of what transpired. Both sides can issue written discovery requests including interrogatories and requests for the production of documents. Both sides may take depositions under oath of opposing parties or others who may have relevant information to the claim. This discovery period is critical in a defamation case so as to prove the elements of the claim – false statement purporting to be a fact, publication of that statement through oral or written medium, fault on behalf of the defendant, injury to the defamed individual.
The United States Supreme Court Maryland state law also recognizes the doctrine of defamation per se (including slander per se and libel per se). The doctrine of defamation per se recognizes that there are some statements that are so defamatory on their fact that damages to the victim are presumed and need not be proven. An example of defamation per se would be a writing that a person has committed a heinous crime of moral turpitude when the person making that statement knows or should have known that this statement was completely false. In that case, it may not be necessary for the victim to prove damages as the harm is presumed.
Should You Sue for Defamation?
An injury to your reputation can be just as damaging as a physical injury. The effects of a defamatory statement can include real injury such as the loss of a job or hiring opportunities, as well as humiliation within the community. It is worth pursuing defamation claims for the economic injuries that these negligent, and sometimes purposeful acts cause.
Defamation law cases are not simple. It is not enough to say that the statement or publication made was false. You must also prove that the individual making the statement did so with the requisite amount of fault depending on the circumstances of the case. Each case is unique in that way.
It is also important to ascertain whether there are funds to pay the defamation case should your claim prove successful. Funds might include personal assets of the Defendant, homeowners insurance, or other funding sources.
Depending on the facts of a case, it is certainly worth exploring a defamation case to recover damages and to hold the wrong-doer responsible for his or her actions.
Hi, my name is Bobby Zirkin, of Zirkin and Schmerling Law.
We often get asked about defamation of character cases. With the increasing use of social media, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and the like, individuals are saying things about each other that unfortunately start to bridge into defamation of character. Defamation includes libel or slander, which is the written word and the spoken word.
And so if somebody says something about you online, or not online, and it’s untrue and it has economic impact on you, that is the classic defamation of character case. And so we handle a lot of these cases and those numbers are growing, as people start to use social media, they’re in their homes and using social media and saying things about one another.
So if you believe that you have a defamation case, that somebody said something about you that is untrue and it’s having an impact on you, either psychologically or economically, feel free to give us a call at Zirkin and Schmerling Law for a free consultation and we can talk to you about your potential case.