The type of defamation you have suffered determines how you should pursue your defamation injury claim. The following are some of the forms of defamation that most states recognize.
- Defamation Per Se
Defamation per se refers to situations in which the false statements are deemed defamatory at face value. That is, the false statements are so injurious that they would harm any reasonable person under the same circumstances. In this case, you just need to prove that the defendant published the defamatory statement; you don't have to prove that the statement caused you harm.
There are only a few cases of defamation that qualify as defamation per se, and they include
- Accusations of criminal activities
- Allegations of loathsome diseases
- Allegations of sexual misconduct
- Accusations of improper conduct in business, trade, or profession
These are the general categories of defamatory statements that qualify for defamation per se tag. However, the exact rules vary by state. Therefore, you should always base your claims on the applicable laws of your state.
- Defamation Per Quod
Defamation per quod is the opposite of defamation per se; in this case, the injurious nature of the false statement is not apparent to an ordinary person. Therefore, you need to prove not only that the alleged statement is false, but also how it caused you harm. This is the conventional variation of defamation with which many people are familiar.
Consider an example of a situation in which someone accuses you of having sexual relations with a coworker. This is a case of defamation per quod because having consensual sexual relations with a person is not necessarily bad. An ordinary person would not assume that the statement is harmful unless you provided further context. For example, you would need to prove that you were married, meaning the defendant is accusing you of adultery, to succeed with your defamation claim. This need for explanation qualifies your case as defamation per quod.
- Actual Malice
Lastly, there are also cases where you have to prove actual malice to succeed with your defamation claim. In this context, actual malice is legalese for reckless disregard for the truth. You are basically saying that the person who made the false statement intentionally did so, and they made the statement with the intention of causing you harm.
Consider a case where you are contesting for an elective post, and someone accuses you of misappropriating public funds in a previous post you held. The person would be guilty of actual malice if you can prove that they knew the statement was false. Such a person clearly wants to see you fail in your political ambitions. Politicians are typically required to prove actual malice to win defamation cases. A personal injury attorney would be the best help you can get for any defamation case.