Do I Really Have a Slander Complaint?

Mon, May 7, 2012

General Legal Issues

Well, let’s examine what slander really is and compare it to some other similar types of legal complaints before we go any further.

According to Merriam-Webster, slander is “to make a false spoken statement that causes people to have a bad opinion of someone”. Not to be confused with libel, which they define as “the act of publishing a false statement that causes people to have a bad opinion of someone.” So…slander is verbal and libel is written.

Then there is defamation, which Merriam-Webster defines as “the act of saying false things in order to make people have a bad opinion of someone or something”. Libel and slander are types of defamation. You often hear someone saying they are suing XYZ for “defamation of character”. This usually means that XYZ communicated to someone else (besides the individual suing) something that gave the suing individual (or the plaintiff) a bad image.

Now let’s discuss Florida and slander/libel a bit more in depth. The statute of limitations in Florida for filing a slander/libel case is 2 years. Florida also has some very specific laws relating to slander or libel in certain situations. They are located several places in Florida law, most of which are listed below:

The plaintiff’s complaint will only be valid in certain situations. Florida has attempted to clarify them with the statutes listed above. However, slander/libel/defamation of character can be tricky to prove. The ability to win a case depends on many factors. A qualified attorney is the best person to consult with about whether a slander/libel suite is valid and whether there was defamation of character.

But for the purposes of this blog post, let us assume that your situation is a traditional slander suit: Someone said something bad about you that damaged your reputation. First off, consider what was said about you. Is it true? Unless the matter impinges on an issue of privacy, generally the truth is a defense to defamation actions.

So, this false thing was said about you. Was it said to another person, a third-party? It needs to have been said about you to at least one other party who believed it and felt differently about you. This could have happened in many scenarios—personal relationships, employment situations, etc… What should you do next?

Do you have any proof that the specific slanderous comment was said? Do you have proof that it damaged your reputation? These issues are important in your case, so think about whether or not you can prove them. Safely gather any evidence you can, without too much involvement with the person who said them or by doing anything that might jeopardize your case.

If you feel you have a potential case against someone for a slander suit, the next step is consulting with an attorney that specializes in torts. This is the area of the law that slander (and libel) fall under. Someone who specializes in this area of practice is the best person to advise you about how to pursue your slander case and what the outcome might be.

SmithLaw hopes this post somewhat clarifies slander cases in the state of Florida. Some reflection and careful handling is important in this type of case.

Image credit: Dr Stephen Dann



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