Explanation of Florida Defamation Law

In the world we live in, it can be easy to find yourself in the middle of a situation where you need to file a defamation lawsuit. Now, more than ever, people’s words (verbal or written) can cause more harm than good.

The team at Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers is ready to assist you in your defamation case and help you seek the compensation you may deserve. Proving defamation is not an easy task, but we have the experience and skills to help you through the legal process.

Here is everything you need to know about the Florida Defamation Law and how to seek justice on this particular issue.

Defining Defamation

In legal terms, defamation is any verbal or written expression that causes harm or damages to a person or entity’s reputation. 

Being able to prove defamation in your case can be challenging and difficult because it can turn into a “he said, she said” situation, if not assisted properly. Legal experts know how to take on your case or situation by diligently illustrating your position to help build your case.

When you begin filing your case, you and your attorney will sit down and review the evidence together to determine how to best proceed in your lawsuit. An important word of advice when filing a defamation case is to always have picture proof of the statements. The more you have, the better, as these can help prove what happened. 

Florida’s Defamation Law

Due to the state of Florida’s Statute of Limitations, a person or business has two years to file their defamation lawsuit starting from when the first defamatory statement was posted or reported. 

If more than one statement is made, or if the same one is repeated, the two-year clock will not reset or be extended, but these are more statements that you can add to the case. The more evidence you have of libel or slander, the stronger your case will be. 

There are exceptions, however, to the two-year timeframe that allows plaintiffs to file their lawsuit. These exceptions can delay the time clock, pause, or extend the time if any of the following scenarios occur:

  • The person who made the statement (the defendant) is out of the country after the first statement is made.
  • The defendant hides or uses a fake identity.
  • The person who filed the lawsuit (the plaintiff) is a minor. 

Under Florida’s Defamation Law, the following instances will be accepted for filing a defamation lawsuit: 

  • The defendant publishes or says a false statement about the plaintiff (to a third party or not).
  • The statement causes injury or damage to the plaintiff. 

Types of Defamation Lawsuits

When you file a defamation lawsuit, your lawyer will look at the statement through two possibilities: Libel and Slander. The key is taking these two elements and providing evidence that there was malicious intent behind the words to damage or injure your reputation. 

Libel refers to any statement that is written and posted, whether it is online, in a media publication, or somewhere else. With social media being prevalent, a statement in the comments section of a post can be libel.

Slander is the more difficult to prove since it is a statement spoken verbally and not in a written statement, but that doesn’t mean defamation cases involving slander cannot win.

Distinguishing defamation is where your lawyer will spend the first part of their case hard at work. It is important to understand whether you have a legitimate reason to file a defamation lawsuit or if you are only dealing with an opinion. 

Many people will try to have qualified statements as a part of their defamation lawsuit, but you should know that these will not hold up in court.

Qualified statements are when you add a level of uncertainty to what you’re saying. Examples include, “I think that,” “Our goal is to,” “We usually do…”

If a person had made a qualifying statement, it likely would not pass as defamation, and the lawsuit will be dismissed. 

Proving Defamation

To prove defamation, there are four elements the plaintiff needs to have.

  1. A false statement made by the defendant.
  2. The publication of that statement to a third party (comment section or other media).
  3. Fault that results in negligence.
  4. Damages or harm caused to the person the statement was made about (the plaintiff). 

When you are dealing with a defamation case, the best thing you can do is document all of the statements that are made and the damage it does to your reputation or life.

Your lawyer and the jury will want to see the evidence you can provide to demonstrate defamation that occurred by the defendant. 

How to Start Your Defamation Lawsuit

The first step in filing a defamation lawsuit is to meet with an attorney that has a proven track record for these kinds of cases. You can begin looking for an attorney that serves in the West Palm Beach, Florida area by searching for one on the internet. 

Most attorneys offer free consultations where you will come in to sit down with them and discuss your situation. In a defamation case, your attorney will need ample time to review the documents, picture proof, and evidence of the statements you bring in to decide how to proceed.

If your attorney deems you have a meritorious defamation case, a complaint will be officially filed, and the defendant will be served the Summons and other lawsuit documents. 

The next step is appearing at your scheduled court date, where your lawyer will represent you and present the evidence you have supplied to the jury. Before this, you will spend time working with your lawyer to build a favorable case to present to the jury what happened.

However, sometimes there can be settlements reached before the case makes it to court, which is entirely up to the client and the defendant to settle instead of proceeding with a court hearing.

The best thing about working with a hired attorney through this situation is having their expertise the whole way to navigate you in your future steps. 

Let us help you

If you or someone you know has had a wrongful statement written or verbally expressed by another party, we would like to help the best way we know how to: fighting for your legal rights.

Our team of legal experts at Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers has been serving the people of West Palm Beach, Florida, for the last 40 years (by appointment only). We operate as a West Palm Beach personal injury lawyer team that can take your case and make it strong.

We know that, in fact, words do hurt and have the potential to wreck reputations and cause consequences no one should experience. 

If you are ready to get the ball rolling with your defamation lawsuit, call our 24/7 hotline at (561) 800-8000 or fill out our online form. Once we have heard from you, we will work on setting up your free consultation where a team member will discuss your case and how we can assist you in seeking compensation.

The clock is ticking on your two-year window. Don’t let another second go by without getting help from Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers today. 

Contact Information