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What Is Defamation vs. Libel vs. Slander?

Reed Bloodworth is the managing partner of Bloodworth Law with offices Orlando, and in Winter Haven, Florida.

Bloodworth Law handles a range of business and contract litigation for clients across Florida. Here, Reed explains the difference between defamation, libel, and slander.

What is Defamation vs. Libel vs. Slander?

What is defamation vs. libel vs. slander? When discussing these terms, it’s important to understand that defamation is the general umbrella term we’ll be talking about in reference to libel and slander. Libel is written defamation, while slander is verbal defamation.

What Is Defamation?

Defamation is the act of damaging an individual’s or company’s reputation. A legal cause of action for defamation can be brought by an individual or a company.

The individual or company can bring an accusation of defamation when either a written statement or a verbal statement prejudices the individual or company in the conduct of its trade, business, or in its management and methods of doing business if they have been impugned.

For example, let’s say a disgruntled employee leaves a medical practice, gets on social media, and makes false statements like, “The doctors at XYZ medical office are committing Medicare fraud.”

As a result of this, a former employee claims that the medical practice was committing Medicare fraud, it loses some patients. This is defamation.

Basic Elements in Proving Defamation

In litigation, there are four basic elements that a person claiming they were defamed must plead and prove. This includes:

There must be a statement of alleged fact that has a defamatory effect and the falsity of that statement identifying the plaintiff as the subject of that statement.

It must be published to a third party — either by written word or by verbal statement.

The person making the statement must have known it was false or acted in a  negligent manner in making the statement.

There has to be some type of compensable damage to the plaintiff

That is the basic explanation of defamation, clarifying the difference between libel and slander, and the necessary elements that must be proven.

The differences in per se defamation vs. per quod defamation are discussed in another post here:

Florida attorney L. Reed Bloodworth is the managing partner of Bloodworth Law. If you are dealing with a legal dispute, talk with Reed about how Bloodworth Law can help you, your family, or your business.

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