Understanding the Different Types of Defamation: Libel and Slander

Author: Mesriani Law Group
Posted on: December 28, 2020

In California, defamation is defined as an invasion of a person’s reputation. It’s verbal or written communication that is false about another person and harms their reputation.

Any statement that damages the reputation of another person can be considered defamation. The two types of defamation are libel and slander. The main difference between libel and slander is the channel in which they are conveyed. Libel refers to written forms of defamatory statements while slander refers to verbal forms.

But not every statement can be considered defamatory.

Elements for a Defamation Claim 

To file a defamation of character lawsuit in California, you’ll need to prove:

  • Someone made a false statement about you
  • The statement was made recklessly, negligently, or intentionally
  • The statement was unprivileged communication to a third party
  • The statement has a natural tendency to cause special damage
  • The statement damaged or caused harm to your reputation

Defamation Per Se

Under California law, some defamatory statements are considered defamation per se. These statements are recognized to be so damaging that the victim isn’t required to prove damages.

For example, a false verbal statement about someone committing a crime can be considered defamation per se. Other examples include allegations that someone has a contagious disease or that a person cheated on his or her partner. Attacks on a person’s professional work abilities can also be considered defamation per se.

Definition of Libel 

Libel includes permanent forms of defamatory statements. Defamatory prints, writings, effigies, pictures, or any other fixed representation can be considered forms of libel.

Examples include but are not limited to website postings, e-mails, or text messages.

For example, Joe is a customer who falsely accuses a restaurant owner of food poisoning. Joe decided to write a negative review online accusing the restaurant of getting him sick. In this case, the restaurant owner could have a defamation case. Joe could be sued for libel because he wrote and posted that false accusation online. 

Definition of Slander

Slander is verbal defamatory statements or gestures.

For example, falsely verbally accusing someone at work for stealing, having a dangerous infectious disease, or that he or she is unable to perform work can be considered slander.

Libel and slander can be especially damaging and humiliating at work. Employees work hard to maintain their reputation and should not have to tolerate defamatory statements about their reputation.

For example, Mary’s supervisor falsely accused her of stealing office supplies in front of her team. After investigation, there was no evidence that Mary stole the items. In this case, Mary could have a slander claim as she was falsely accused of a crime in front of her colleagues.

Consult with a Defamation Attorney Today

Being falsely accused of something can be hurtful and upsetting. Even worse, your reputation can be significantly damaged. If you’ve been a victim of defamation, we highly encourage you to seek legal assistance to understand if you’re entitled to damages. We are confident that our experienced attorneys can obtain the maximum compensation for your case and offer a “no win, no fee” guarantee. Contact Mesriani Law Group in Los Angeles today for your free legal consultation and let us help you get the justice you deserve.