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Has Your Character Been Injured?

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"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." Not true. People can be injured by false words. Our civil justice system allows people to pursue and recover damages when people wrongly injure their character and reputation. 

How Do You Know You Have Been Defamed?

Defamation of character sounds like something that happens in old movies or in the gossip pages. But defamation happens in everyday life, as well. When you consider that your reputation is a valuable asset, you suffer a significant loss when your reputation is dinged.

Consider that you own a restaurant. As a prank, someone leaves a report in Yelp that is outrageously untrue. People see the remarks and low marks, and business drops. The dishonest prank costs you thousands of dollars, and forces you to lay people off. Defamation can cause great pain. To establish that you were defamed, you must meet three proofs:

It Must Be Public
If you say something defamatory to a person privately, it doesn't count as defamation. It must be spoken within hearing of others (slander), or it must be written and published (libel). It can happen almost anywhere: on television, in a book, in a letter to the editor, online, or in the street. Of these, the internet is where most defamation cases arise today.

It Must Be False
You cannot defame a person by telling the truth about them. Truth is an absolute defense to libel and slander charges.

It Must Cause Real Harm
You must be able to show that the statements made about you damaged your reputation, cost you financial loss, or caused you to suffer physically or psychologically. For a business or an individual, damage to reputation can be shown in dollars and cents. Physical and emotional suffering may include sleep problems, anxiety, to a heart attack or suicide. If repairing your reputation costs you money - such as by hiring a public relations firm or publishing your own account of the defamation - you may be compensated for those expenses.

If you incur expenses as a result of taking steps to repair your reputation, you may include those losses in a defamation lawsuit. Many people think malice must be evident to prove defamation. This is not usually true. 

Chiariello & Chiariello: Looking Out For The Injured In New York

We hope you have enjoyed this look at defamation of character and how the civil justice system can be used to compensate those who have been defamed. This is the same civil justice system that allows the victims of medical malpractice, car accidents, and other negligence to recover the financial resources they need to be made whole again. 

If you or a loved one is ever harmed by negligence, you can turn to our experienced personal injury attorneys to guide you through the system and obtain the best possible outcome. 

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