Elements of a Business Defamation Claim

Do you want to understand the ​elements of a business defamation claim? Talk to Mullen Law Firm today. We can elaborate more on this topic. Call us.

What Are the Elements of Business Defamation Claims?

Has someone been making up untrue stories to discredit your business? In that case, you might be able to initiate and sustain a business defamation claim against them.

Business defamation claims offer a legal solution for businesses to enable them to seek compensation for the harm caused by false, defamatory statements made by others.

The defamatory statements may be spoken (slander) or written (libel). But regardless of their form, they can adversely affect your business, economic interests, and reputation in the market. This is why defamation law allows you to claim compensation and other legal reliefs from the maker(s) of such statements.

You’d need to establish certain elements in court if your business defamation claim must succeed. The specific details you must prove may vary with each state, so if you need personalized information about the business defamation claims in your state, consider reaching out to a nearby defamation attorney for help.

In the meantime, we’ve identified the general elements of business defamation claims that you’ll need to prove to get the desired outcome in your case below.

The Defendant Made a False Statement(s) About Your Business.

There are two angles to this element:

  • You must establish that the defendant made a statement about your business (including specific products or services) and
  • That the statement they made was false.

The defendant must have presented the offending statement as a”statement of fact” and not a “statement of opinion.” You may not be able to sue someone for sharing their opinion about your business based on their experience.

For example, if you run a restaurant and a customer leaves an online review on a platform such as Yelp saying something like ” I didn’t enjoy the food at XYZ restaurant,” they are expressing their opinion.

But if someone left a review that said something like “XYZ restaurant uses dead rats to stuff their pies,” that is an allegation of fact. In such circumstances, you could file an Online Review Defamation claim if the statement is untrue.

If the statement is shown to be true, no matter how undesirable or harmful it may be, then your defamation claim may be unsustainable.

Sometimes it could be difficult to distinguish between a statement of opinion and a statement of fact. Experienced defamation lawyers can help you identify what is applicable in your case to determine whether you have good grounds for a lawsuit.


The Defamatory Statement Was Made to a Third Party

You must show that the false statement was published or communicated to at least one individual other than you or the defendant. Publication could take several forms, including the following:

  • Spoken words
  • Written publications
  • Social media posts
  • Online reviews.


The Defendant Made the Statement Knowing It Was False

You must demonstrate that the defendant knew that their statement was false or that they acted without verifying the truth of their statement even though they had the opportunity to do so.


The Defendant’s Statement Caused Actual Damage to Your Business/Economic Interests

Unlike personal defamation lawsuits, where showing damage to the plaintiff’s reputation alone is enough to succeed, you must establish that the defendant’s defamatory statements caused actual harm to your business.

The damage could take several forms, including the following:

  • Loss of customers
  • Decreased sales
  • Damaged business relationships
  • Loss of business opportunities.

If you can prove these elements in court with sufficient evidence, then your business defamation suit is likely to succeed.

Contact a defamation attorney for help if you want to know the kind of evidence you need to prove your case.

What Happens if the Judge Decides the Case in Your Favor?

The typical remedy in successful business defamation suits is damages. The defendant would be ordered to compensate you financially for your losses.

The court may also order punitive or exemplary damages against the defendant to punish them for their behavior and discourage it in others.

In deserving cases, the court may also issue injunctions against the defendant to prevent the further spread of the defamatory statement.


When To File Your Business Defamation Lawsuit

If someone has spread false information about your business, you must act quickly to seek redress in court. The statute of limitations controls your right to file a defamation lawsuit by giving you a specific time limit to file your suit.

This time limit varies across the states. For example, the limitation period for defamation suits in New York and New Jersey is one year.

If you’re in these locations and fail to file your suit within a year from when the defamation occurred, then you’ll likely lose your right to file a lawsuit and any legal remedies the court would have awarded.

If your case is against an employee of the U.S. federal government for acts done in their official capacity, the federal defamation statute of limitations is two years.

By the Federal Tort Claims Act, you must notify the appropriate federal agency of your claim in writing within that period; otherwise, your claim will be barred forever.

Can Business Defamation Cases Be Settled Out of Court?

Business defamation claims can be settled out of court. Some cases may not even get to court at all. Usually, when people find that someone has made false statements against them or their business, they contact a lawyer to help them pursue the appropriate remedies and stop the defamation.

The lawyer may send the maker of the false and defamatory statement a ‘cease and desist’ letter outlining the consequences of their actions and asking them to retract their statement.

If they retract their statement publicly at that point, there may be no need to go to court.

Settlement may also be initiated after you have filed your lawsuit in court. In that case, you and the defendant would negotiate the settlement terms you both would abide by.

For instance, you could demand that the defendant makes a public apology in exchange for your withdrawal of the suit. You could also fix the amount that the defendant would pay as compensation.

Settlement negotiations could be tricky, and you could get less than you deserve at the end of the process, especially if the defendant is a better negotiator than you. In your interest, only negotiate a settlement with a competent defamation lawyer by your side.

With their skill and knowledge, they can safeguard your interests and ensure that the settlement terms favor you.

Do You Need Help With Your Business Defamation Claim? Reach Out to the Mullen Law Firm Today

The U.S. Constitution guarantees everyone freedom of speech. Still, it doesn’t allow them to spread harmful lies about you or your business.

By filing a business defamation claim, you can seek justice against anyone who does such acts, get them to stop, and get compensation from them if you meet the Grounds for a Defamation Lawsuit in your state.

Because the litigation process could be complex, you’d likely need legal help to succeed. That’s where we come in. Our experienced defamation lawyers at the Mullen Law Firm can evaluate your case and determine whether you have a course of action.

We can also help you navigate the complex litigation system, identify evidence that could help you prove your case, and advocate for you so your interests are always protected.

If your case involves defamation on the Internet, we can help you understand the Internet defamation consequences and take legal action against those responsible.

We serve clients across New York and New Jersey. If you’re facing business defamation in these states, do not hesitate to call us today. Let us work together to protect your business.

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