Historical Basis to Defamation
When most people think of personal injury, they think of something physical, such as a car wreck that leads to a broken leg, breathing asbestos that causes mesothelioma, etc. However, you can receive personal injury to something intangible in addition-your reputation. In the cutthroat world of politics and other such competitions, your reputation can be an incredibly important aspect of your life or career.
Defamation, slander, and libel are the trio of ways in which someone can harm your reputation. The three of them cause harm to your character, casting you in a bad light that can be so effective that other people believe that terrible accusations being made about your personal character. These kinds of rumors and other such things may cause you to lose your job, rule others others to speculate your credibility, or generally make other people look down on you.
Defamation is the overarching definition of making false statements about another person. For more specific terms, slander and libel are used in regard to personal injury law. Slander refers to making non-concrete, or transitory statements. This includes oral rumors and statements. Libel is more fixed because it method defaming someone via print, such as writing a negative article about someone for a newspaper or magazine.
A good way to look at the development of protection against defamation is looking at what protects ar rights, and observing past precedents. The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America protects our right for the freedom of speech. The bill of rights does not directly discuss slander and libel, but there have been court situations that have set precedents for defamation based on this amendment.
In the landmark case of New York Times Co. v. Sullivan in 1964, the newspaper printed an advertisement that hinted that the police acted with too much force in suppressing an African-American civil rights protest in Montgomery, Alabama. The Alabaman police commissioner sued, saying that the Times had committed slander because their advertisement cast him in a negative light, damaging his reputation. Although the first court ruled that the NYT had to pay damages to Sullivan, the Supreme Court overruled it, saying that there was no “actual malice” involved in printing the ad.
In a second important court decision, the Supreme Court determined that printing someone’s opinion counts as a hyperbole, and does not fall under libel. With Greenbelt Cooperative Publishing Association, Inc. v. Bresler, Bresler sued the publishing company because it printed an article that quoted someone as saying that the councilman’s approach towards negotiation was like blackmail. This was not considered defamation since it was an opinion, and no one was directly accusing him of blackmail.
consequently, to prove that you have been defamed, you generally need to provide evidence that slander or libel was stated in a purposely malicious manner. For more information and expert legal advice for defending yourself against personal injury to your reputation, contact Austin lawyer Vic Feazell today.