Defamation a/k/a True Lies and How They Can Hurt You

Your reputation is immensely important and one statement can ruin it for a long, long time.  A wrongful arrest, a false story in a newspaper, reckless statements in the media, and other untrue statements can be quite damaging.  The Internet can do widespread and irreparable damage to your reputation. 

In North Carolina certain statements will always be considered defamatory and are assumed to harm the plaintiff’s reputation, without further need to prove that harm. In North Carolina, a statement that does any of the following things amounts to libel per se:

  • charges that a person has committed an infamous crime;
  • charges a person with having an infectious disease;
  • tends to impeach a person in that person’s trade or profession; or
  • otherwise tends to subject one to ridicule, contempt, or disgrace

However, while you may not be required to show actual monetary losses to recover damages in a defamation case the lack of actual monetary loss can greatly diminish the damages to which you may be entitled. Defamatory statements, false accusations, and misleading representations by third parties can cause you the following:

  • Loss of your job or business income
  • Cost to hire an attorney to defend against criminal charges or represent you in other legal/administrative proceedings
  • Embarassment and humiliation  

Is it true? Libel refers to printed or written statements that are false.  Slander refers to spoken or verbal statements   that are false.  Truth is an absolute defense to any defamation claim but other valid defenses also exist.  Defamation cases can sometimes involve claims for malicious prosecution or abuse of process. 

KEY NOTE:  The statute of limitations for a defamation claim in North Carolina is very short—-one year.  It takes an experienced attorney to review your situation and discuss with you the prospects for a successful defamation case.  If you believe your business, reputation, or other interests have caused you damage contact Attorney John O’Neal for a free consultation to discuss your case and any legal options you may have.



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  1. Silence for Sale: Confidentiality Agreements | Law and Life Blog

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