Defamation is false communication that hurts a person’s reputation. It can be either spoken communication—known as slander—or written communication, known as libel. For businesses and public figures, libel on the internet and social media can be devastating.
If someone does defame you or your business, you can sue them for damages (money) for harming your reputation. If you are the person or business that was wronged, you are known as the plaintiff. If you are the person that defamed (either through slander or libel), you are known as the defendant. It’s important to know that a defamation lawsuit can be long and very expensive. It’s also very important to choose an internet defamation attorney that is right for you and your case.
Costs Involved in a Defamation Lawsuit
The biggest concern most people have when considering a defamation lawsuit is the cost. Depending on the law firm you choose, as a plaintiff you may not be charged any fees upfront by your law firm, but instead could be charged a percentage of the proceeds following a decision in your favor. This percentage, known as a contingency fee, varies and could be as high as 40%. There will be other costs involved throughout the case that may not be covered by your law firm so it is important to ask these questions first.
The time and energy required to pursue a defamation lawsuit is a major cost to consider. Time is a precious commodity, and you should discuss the length of time the lawsuit might take with your defamation lawyer.
If you are the defendant, you will be required to pay hourly legal fees throughout the process. This may be substantial. You should seriously consider hiring a defamation attorney quickly to discuss whether a settlement would be the wisest choice.
The Defamation Lawsuit Process
1. Preparing a Demand Letter
In many cases, a lawyer may draw up a demand letter and present it to the defendant. This demand letter would request a settlement without proceeding through the legal system. This is the best way to settle a defamation case, as the high costs will be mitigated.
2. Filing a Complaint
The first step for your lawyer—if the defendant does not agree to the terms of a demand letter—is to file a complaint in court and serve the complaint to the defendant.
After a complaint has been filed and served, you enter the discovery phase. During discovery, your lawyer will build a list of questions for the defendant that must be answered under oath. They will attend the discovery with the defendant and will request the defendant’s lawyer to deliver any records that your lawyer feels are necessary for the case. This is the most important stage of the process and one where your lawyer’s expertise and knowledge will be most effective.
4. Out-of-Court Resolution
Many defamation cases are settled following discovery. Your lawyer will work with the defendant’s lawyer to reach a resolution that both parties are willing to accept. This is the simplest solution.
5. Defamation Trial
If you have not settled following discovery and settlement negotiations, your defamation case will go to trial. This is when your lawyer will be presenting your case along with any expert testimonies that may help your case. This can be time-consuming and complex. Your lawyer needs to have the expertise to ensure the jury is convinced that you—the plaintiff—were defamed and harmed by the circumstances, or conversely, if you are the defendant, that you did not defame or harm the plaintiff.
Looking for an Experienced Internet Defamation Lawyer?
Our attorneys at RM Warner Law will provide you with sound legal advice and representation. We have successfully represented hundreds of entrepreneurs, public figures, and e-commerce clients around the world. Call us today or fill out our online contact form to arrange a consultation.