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What are the elements of a defamation claim?

We all have a reputation, and most of us rely economically on having a good one. For example, it doesn't matter if you're a dishwasher or a corporate executive. If someone says something untrue about you -- particularly if it paints you in a bad light or makes you look like a bad person -- you could lose your job. Because defamation has the power to destroy your life and your career, it's unlawful.

Were you a victim of defamation? Here's how to prove your case and pursue financial damages in court:

-- Prove that the person or organization that defamed you issued defamatory or false statements about you.

-- Prove that the person or organization that defamed you shared the defamatory information with a third party and without your permission.

-- Prove that the person or organization that defamed you was -- at the minimum -- negligent in sharing the defamatory communication. Or, that the party intended to harm you.

-- Prove that you suffered damages as a result.

Here are some examples of defamatory actions that might qualify a plaintiff for an award of financial damages:

-- Shared information suggestion you committed a serious crime that was morally wrong or a felony.

-- Shared information that results in you being ridiculed.

-- Shared information that damages the reputation surrounding your character, integrity and morality.

-- Shared information that hurts you financially.

-- Shared information suggesting that you are mentally or physically defective that would result in other people not wanting to associate with you.

Both businesses and individuals can seek protection from defamation. If you, your business or your organization has been harmed by instances of defamation similar to those categorized above, you may be able to pursue financial compensation in civil court.

Source: FindLaw, "Elements of Libel and Slander," accessed July 06, 2017

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