Defamation: Libel & Slander

Cranston & Edwards PLLC – Morgantown, WV Trial Attorneys

Defamation is personal injury to your character as a result of someone spreading untrue rumors about your or your business. It is very important to note that if what is being said about you is true, it is almost never considered defamation. In some cases, there are exceptions. For example, some types of privileged information may be protected from disclosure at all. In contrast, matters of public concern may be protected if disclosed with good will (even when untrue). 

The logistics of the law can become quite complex in this area. It is absolutely critical to have skilled, knowledgeable legal representation on your side when pursuing a defamation claim in West Virginia. At Cranston & Edwards PLLC, our respected trial attorneys in Morgantown offer over 55 years of collective experience assisting those who have experienced significant personal or business-related harm as a result of the defamation of their character.

What Is Libel and Slander?

Libel – Written Defamation (may include print, images, and online statements)

Slander – Verbal Defamation (may include radio and television broadcasts, as well as speeches to large crowds)

Is It Defamation or Gossip?

If someone is talking badly about you or spreading rumors or gossip about you that are untrue and highly offensive, your first reaction may be to pursue a defamation claim against the individual. It is important to remember that most gossip does not rise to the level of defamation. As a form of personal injury to your character, the untrue written or verbal statements must have actually caused you financial loss. In addition, the burden of proof will be on you to prove that the statements made against you are false. Following the broadcast or written publication, the statements must also be proven to have reached at least one person.

What is Defamation Per Se?

In West Virginia, some types of statements are automatically considered to cause personal injury by virtue of their content. The precise statements accepted to cause assumed damage vary widely as defined by various jurisdictions throughout the state. Some examples may include erroneously claiming that an individual committed a crime, sexual misconduct, is unfit to handle a task, or has a sexually transmitted infection.

A Higher Standard of Burden for Well-Known and Famous Individuals

If you are a popular, well-known, or famous individual or public figure, you have a higher burden to prove than the average individual. Your defamation claim must include proof that the statements made against you were made with actual malice (total disregard for the truth and an actual intent to harm you). This can be difficult to prove.

File a Claim for Financial Losses and Damage to Your Reputation

If you believe that your character or business suffered injury as a result of defamation against you, you may be eligible to file a claim. Damages may be awarded for any actual financial losses that can be proven, as well as general damage to your character/reputation that caused damages (such as emotional distress and the inability to find work). In some cases, punitive damages may also be awarded.

The statute of limitation for defamation is one year. Contact our legal team as soon as possible if you believe your character or reputation has been damaged as a result of libel or slander. Call Cranston & Edward PLLC for a free consultation at 304-296-3500.

At Cranston & Edwards PLLC, our skilled personal injury trial attorneys fight for justice and your right to obtain the maximum compensation allowed by law. There is never a fee unless we win a claim for damages on your behalf.