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To file a slander lawsuit, you will typically have to file a complaint with the appropriate court in your jurisdiction. Before you can do that, however, you will usually have to make sure you understand what slander entails and can identify damages you have suffered because of it. You may then hire a lawyer to file the case on your behalf and argue your case in court.
Before you file a slander lawsuit, you may do well to research the types of acts that count as slander. This way, you can make sure you are attempting to sue for the right act. Slander occurs when another person uses the spoken word to spread falsehoods about you and these falsehoods have a negative effect on your reputation. If you believe this has occurred, you will typically have to consider whether or not you have suffered damages of some type. For example, if the slander has hurt your business, you may have a good case to present in court.
After determining that you have been a victim of slander, your next step may be a visit to a lawyer. While you can pursue a slander lawsuit pro se, which means representing yourself, this may not prove the best option. Most legal experts recommend seeking the help of an experienced lawyer who can evaluate your case and give you insight into your chances of winning. Proving the damages you have suffered can be very difficult in these types of cases. An experienced lawyer will understand the ins and outs of winning a slander lawsuit and may improve your chances for a satisfactory outcome.
Once you have chosen a lawyer and hired him, he will typically file a complaint on your behalf with the appropriate court in your jurisdiction. A complaint is basically the document that sets the lawsuit in motion and details whom you are suing, who is representing you in the case, and why you are suing. The complaint will likely include the facts of the case as you and your lawyer see them and the types of damages you have suffered. It will likely also include the compensation for which you are suing. You and your lawyer will usually have to arrange to have a copy of the complaint served to the defendant as well.
After you file a slander lawsuit, you will have to show up in court to make your case. Your lawyer will represent you and work to prove, with your help, that the defendant committed the slander and caused you to suffer damages. The defendant will have an opportunity to present his case as well.
@Logicfest -- good points but you missed something. It is much easier for Joe Average to win a slander case than public figures. The reason for that is courts have long established that citizens should be able to freely criticize public figures without worrying about being sued. That goes double when the public figure is an elected official.
If things were not that way, a citizen could get in trouble for accusing, say, the president of not doing his job.
It is not just advisable to hire an attorney to represent you in a slander case. It is an absolute necessity most of the time.
Why? Proving that you have been slandered is quite difficult considering First Amendment protections of free speech. Once you cross that hurdle, proving damages is next to impossible.
Here's what I mean. Let's say that you have a tree trimming company and someone ran around town claiming you crushed his fence while cutting down a tree in his yard. The first hurdle is proving that your actions did not crush his fence and that can be tricky if his fence was destroyed around the time you were doing the job. If you can
prove that you did not hurt the fence, then you've got to look at whether he knowingly lied about what you did or had reason to be mistaken. Is there a defense there?
Finally, if you can prove you have been slandered, how do you calculate damages? Can you prove that you missed out on a bunch of tree cutting jobs because of the slander?
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