Defamation Claims Lawyer
Business man and business woman shaking hands

What Is Defamation?

Most people have likely heard of defamation at some point in their lives. However, the definition of defamation that one may be familiar with may not be the precise legal definition of defamation. As with many things, the legal definition of defamation and the common use of the word are different. It is critical to consult a qualified defamation lawyer. Defamation can be brought as a personal injury claim. Legally speaking, defamation consists of any false information that damages an organization’s, person’s, or business’s reputation. 

The word ‘false’ is an integral part of this definition of defamation. Any defamation lawyer would state that true information that harms a person’s reputation is not defamation. The information has to be false and harmful to the person’s, business’s, or organization’s reputation to qualify as defamation, legally speaking.

Something else that one should know is that it can prove quite challenging to prove defamation in a court of law. This is even more true given that each state’s laws define defamation in particular ways. Defamation not only requires that someone made a false statement of fact, but they also have to have identified the plaintiff, published the false statement, and be at fault in some way. The false statement also must be demonstrably false, not a matter of debate. Otherwise, the statement is not considered defamatory and therefore holds no weight in a defamation case.

Types of Defamation 

The two most common types of defamation are libel and slander. Before diving deeper into libel and slander, it is important to discuss the differences between these two types of defamation. 


The primary difference between libel and slander is that libel is a term usually used to describe broadcast or published defamatory statements. As a result, any defamatory statement that is considered libel is generally more permanent. After all, it is more difficult to take back a defamatory statement that you have published compared to a defamatory statement one merely said to another person.


On the other hand, slander is a term that describes verbal defamatory statements. These statements are less permanent and more short-lived compared to defamatory statements that fall under the category of libel. Slander is a more common type of defamation when you are talking about a private person that is not associated with a media organization.

However, by contrast, libel is overall more commonly a legal issue for media organizations. In any case, defamation allegations are a frequent legal issue for media organizations, no matter if the allegations in question accuse that organization of libel or slander. That is why media organizations often have defamation lawyers, such as an Atlanta defamation lawyer, to help deal with such allegations.

How Does One Prove Defamation?

As previously stated, the laws of every state define defamation in certain ways. This means that the process of proving defamation in order to win a defamation case can vary a bit from state to state. An effective defamation lawyer would know how to navigate your claim accordingly. Generally speaking, though, the plaintiff who files a defamation lawsuit has to demonstrate the five following things:

  • The defendant identified the plaintiff.
  • The defendant published the statement.
  • The defendant harmed the reputation of the plaintiff.
  • The defendant was at least partially at fault.
  • The defendant made a statement of actual fact that was false.

Defamatory Statements 

Publishing the statement means that a minimum of one other person aside from the plaintiff viewed or read the statement. Any story published online or broadcast on television qualifies as a published statement in a defamation case. Identifying the plaintiff means that the plaintiff was named or the plaintiff’s image was shown. It can also mean that the plaintiff was described using descriptive characteristics that are clearly recognizable.

It is possible for a statement to be defamatory at face value, which is known as being “‘per se'” defamatory. Assertions of incompetence in one’s job or criminal activity are more examples of this. In other cases, a statement is defamatory because of the larger context.

Non-defamatory Statements 

Statements that cannot be proven true or false aren’t defamatory and these statements are called “pure opinion”. Rhetorical hyperbole is also not an example of defamation. A court will closely examine the statement’s context to figure out if the statement can be proven to be true or false. A statement that contains verifiable facts and personal opinions can be defamatory.

The plaintiff also must be at least somewhat at fault to prove defamation in a court of law. If the plaintiff is a public figure or public official, then they have to prove the defendant had “actual malice” when they published the statement. That is a higher level of fault. If the plaintiff is a private individual, they have to prove that the defendant acted negligently. Negligence is a lower level of fault than actual malice, as one might guess.

Hire an Atlanta Defamation Lawyer

In the event that you require a defamation lawyer, you should go with Barnwell Law Group. Our lawyers are experienced, highly qualified, and friendly. We will ensure that you get the legal assistance you need. You can visit our website or call (678) 501-7585 to request a free consultation today! We look forward to providing you with excellent legal services.

Reach out

Have questions or inquiries? Reach out to us using the form below. We're here to help!