How long do you have to file a slander defamation of character suit against someone?

Defamation is the act of making false and damaging statements about another person. If the damaging states are made in a fixed medium, such as a magazine or newspaper, this is considered libel. If the statements are made in a non-fixed medium or if they are spoken, this is considered slander.

Statute of limitations for a defamation case

There are statutes of limitations or deadlines for filing a defamation case. Claimants who fail to file a claim before the deadline will lose their right to compensation, and their case will be dismissed. Although the statute of limitations varies by state, it generally will begin on the day the slanderous or libelous comments were said or written.

For example, if your state has a two year statute of limitations for a defamation claim, you will have two years from the date the person issued their statement to file a defamation claim. Under very specific circumstances you may be able to have the statue of limitations extended. Talk to a personal injury lawyer if you have more questions about your defamation claim.

Elements of a defamation case

Not all derogatory or negative statements will rise to the level of defamation. To be considered defamatory a statement must be false and defamatory, it must be made to a third party (verbal or written), and it must injure or damage the plaintiff.

To win a defamation case the plaintiff must be able to prove the elements of their case. For the element of injury, however, there are certain statements or allegations which are considered so heinous that the court may recognize them as per se defamation.

For instance, per se defamation may occur if the slander or libel attacks a person’s professional character, the chastity of an unmarried person, alleges someone is infected with a sexually transmitted disease or they have committed a crime of moral turpitude. Consider, however, it is not defamation if the allegations are true.

Defenses against defamation

If you have been charged with defamation there are several defenses which you can use to defend yourself against such charges. The best and most absolute defense is to prove the statements you have made are true. Another defense is proving the statement were an opinion, or the plaintiff’s reputation was so poor within the community that any statements you made, which may have been defamatory, caused little damage to the plaintiff.

Other individuals also are protected by privilege, which means they can make statements which are considered protected. Individuals who may have privilege include judges, lawyers, court witnesses and members of a state legislative body.

Should I file a defamation claim?

Before filing a defamation case it’s important to discuss your case with a lawyer. If the statute of limitations has expired for your case you generally will not be able to file a claim. Consider also, defamation cases can be difficult to win, may offer limited payouts, and may bring additional publicity and a greater audience for the false statements.

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