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Can We Talk? Understanding Libel

One of the lesser recognized forms of personal injury involves something that has nothing to do with physical injuries but can be just as damaging. When someone defames you in print, you may have a case for seeking monetary compensation. Read on to learn what it takes for this manner of defamation to be considered libel and what you can do about it.

Getting the terms straight

There are several confusing terms when it comes to communications that might harm a person. The overall term for this is defamation and within that legal term is libel and slander. Slander involves the act of actually saying something that harms another and is untrue. Libel is the written form of defamation and it can be extended to cover online writings.

Where can you be libeled?

Anywhere the written word is found has the potential to be a source of libel. Traditionally, that written work included newspapers, correspondence and more. Private writings are exempt since the words must be available for others to see for it to cause harm. With the invention of the internet, libel gained several new avenues of exposure. Even if you must pay a fee to use a website or there is a membership, if it can be viewed and it can cause harm it might be libel. This can include:

1. Social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and more in the form of posting and comments.

2. Online publications like newspapers and magazines and the comments that follow articles.

3. Online bulletin boards or forums where general or specific topics are discussed.

A matter of opinion?

While giving an opinion may be seen as perfectly innocent and perhaps even protected speech, that may not always be the case. Depending on the circumstances, the audience and what was written, even someone's personal opinion about another could be considered libel. Consider this example: The owner of a website that bills itself as a government watchdog site states that they believe the current mayor of a large city is employing domestic workers who are in the country illegally. This statement causes an uproar online and eventually in real life for the mayor, who is innocent of such allegations. The mayor may have a cause of action against the website owner or anyone else that has an audience and has the ability to cause harm by issuing false statements.

Seeking monetary damages

While you can sue someone for libel, take care that the statement made is actually untrue and that it really did cause harm to your reputation, business, job prospects, personal relationships and more. Speak to personal injury attorney services to have your situation evaluated and determine how you can be made whole by seeking damages.