Defamation as Personal Injury

Contact An Agent

A tort is a wrongful act, and while it is not necessarily a crime, civil sanctions can be brought to bear against the actor depending on the circumstances. The term personal injury in the US is most often associated with physical forms of injury resulting from negligence such as a drunk driving accident resulting in serious injury or death.

Personal injury is also most commonly linked to slip and fall cases (premises liability) and defective drugs (product liability). But in all the cases mentioned above, a personal injury claim is based on the resulting bodily harm, and the compensation is computed based on the actual costs related to treating the injury, losses associated with a death, and everything in between including emotional distress as well as pain and suffering.

However, personal injury may also be non-physical, such as damage to one’s reputation through defamation. Defamation is defined as any spoken or written statement that negatively affects a person’s reputation, leading to economic losses and emotional distress. Defamation comes in two forms: libel (written form) or slander (spoken form).

For example, if a local business owner is accused by a client of fraud on Facebook, this may be considered defamation if it is not true, and the business owner sustains losses from the publication of this accusation, then the business owner may bring a personal injury suit against the client. However, while libel is considered more serious than slander, it is nevertheless quite difficult to prove. This is mostly because one of the elements of a defamation case is that the defendant acted with malice.

When considering filing a defamation lawsuit, consult with a personal injury lawyer to see if the case is eligible. Keeping in mind that as in most tort cases in the US, the laws may vary from state to state, choose a law firm in the area.