Reputation is a valuable asset for businesses, professionals, politicians and everyday individuals. A false statement can tarnish a reputation and cause harmful financial losses. We protect the interests of DC Metro area people, companies and organizations who have been negligently or maliciously defamed. We pursue all available remedies against the offending person or organization, including injunctive relief to prevent further harm and monetary damages to pay for losses suffered by the target of the slander or libel.
Our firm is uniquely knowledgeable about defamation claims, which often overlap with business torts and constitutional law concepts, practice areas in which we have substantial experience. We also remain up-to-date on the relatively uncharted territory of defamation on social media, Internet and review sites.
Our Eastern District of Virginia attorneys have represented clients on both sides of the issue, those who have been the target of defamation and those who were wrongly accused of making the defamatory statements.
When is a Statement Considered Defamation?
Not all hurtful or false statements are defamatory. To prevail on a defamation claim, the statement must meet the specific legal criteria:
- The statement is false.
- The false statement purports to be fact.
- The false statement was published or communicated to a third party.
- The party making the statement was negligent or purposeful in doing so.
- The subject was harmed by the false statement.
Slanderous Oral Statements
Defamation takes two forms: slander and libel. Slander refers to an untruthful oral statement made by one person to at least one other person. Untruthful statements accusing a person of having a loathsome disease, committing a crime or being unfit to practice her or his profession are considered so egregious that they are slander per se, which may give rise to general or punitive damages. The subjects of all other types of slander are entitled to actual damages, unless the slanderer made the statement with malicious intent.
Libelous Publication of Lies
Libel involves the publication of an untruth that harms another person’s reputation by making him or her the target of ridicule, hatred, scorn or contempt. The untruth may be expressed in words, pictures, cartoons, videos or another medium. Publication includes print, writing and broadcasts through television, film, Internet, social media or radio. The libeler may be a newspaper, magazine, blog, political organization, charity, company or another entity or person. The claimant may also be an entity or a person. Publication occurs even if the information is released to only one person. To be considered libel, the published expression must be presented as a fact; an opinion is not libel.
Our location in Alexandria puts us at the center of politics. We can handle defamation claims involving politicians and understand the nuances of these claims from the defense’s and the plaintiff’s side. Defamation is a complicated concept that requires professional, experienced lawyers who appreciate the importance of acting with confidentiality and urgency to preserve our client’s reputation.
Contact Our Firm to Discuss a Defamation Claim
If you have been the target of defamation, you have important legal rights. Contact an attorney at Harvey & Binnall, PLLC to learn more about the legal remedies that may be available to you.