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Hurt By Another's Words? Be Compensated

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Libel means that someone has written something that causes harm. Read on to learn more about what libel is, how to prove it, and how to be compensated for it.

Defamation: Libel and Slander

The above three terms are somewhat confusing. To clear that up, defamation refers to both libel and slander and is the catch-all term for a type of personal injury case. Slander is the spoken word and not the written word. Libel is the written word and that doesn't necessarily have to be on paper to count.

Know the Guidelines

As with all things legal, not every single incidence that appears to be libel really is libel. To qualify as libel, it must:

  1. Appear in a place where others can view it. If you send someone a letter, nothing in that letter is necessarily libel. However, if that letter is published in a newspaper, it can be considered libel.
  2. Be untrue. Written statements that are true don't qualify as libel. Proving that something is not true may be a large part of your case.
  3. Be harmful to the target. Random written postings on Facebook that are not harmful to the target may not be libelous. What is harmful, however, to one person may not bother another.

Proving the Case

If you suspect you have been libeled, speak to a personal injury lawyer. They can help you ascertain whether your case meets the three criteria above. You must be ready to show that:

  • The writings were public. For example, anything posted on the internet or in other media is probably considered public even if it's not front-page news.
  • What was written is untrue. For example, if someone printed in a magazine that you were fired from your last job for stealing from the company, be ready to show that it was untrue.
  • The written words caused you harm. You must prove that you were more than just annoyed by the writings. Commonly, those seeking compensation for libelous writings must show that they were harmed in some way. The incident must have caused harm to your reputation, your personal relationships, your career, or another area of your life. For example, if the writings state that you had an affair with another person, it could cause many problems in your marriage. You only need to show that it affected you in one way, however, to have a case.

To find out more about seeking compensation for libel, speak to a personal injury lawyer.