Someone Slandered My Business. Do I Have a Defamation Claim?

As a business owner, you undoubtedly do everything in your power to grow, maintain, and protect your business. As such, when someone’s slanderous comments threaten its future, you should not hesitate to take action. A Rhode Island defamation lawyer can determine whether you have a valid claim on your hands.

Understanding Slander and Business Defamation

Everyone is entitled to free speech, but particular forms of communication can affect a person’s life and business, especially that which is presented as fact but is, in fact, false. 

Slander refers to statements that are verbally spoken, untrue, and defamatory. Defamation refers to false statements that cause damage or injury to the person they are about. In a business context, a slanderous statement can have negative repercussions on both the business and its success.

Both individuals and businesses have the right to file defamation lawsuits. The legal field of defamation allows those hurt by slander to pursue justice and damages.

How Defamation Affects a Business

Defamation can have a substantial impact on a business, which is why the law allows businesses to file defamation lawsuits when valid claims arise.

The ways in which defamation affects a business often depend on the type of business, but in general, serious business defamation can result in any of the following outcomes:

  • A decrease in customers
  • A negative reputation
  • Loss of sponsorships
  • Increased negative reviews
  • Difficulty hiring and retaining employees
  • Decreased revenue

In serious cases, defamation can impact a business so significantly that it has no choice but to close its doors. 

Requirements for a Defamation Claim

You must establish the following four essential elements to bring forth a valid defamation claim:

  • A false statement was made regarding the business: The statement that was presented as fact must be proven untrue
  • The false statement was communicated to a third party: The defendant communicated the untrue statement to another party
  • The statement was made with intent: The defendant made the statement negligently or intentionally to harm the business
  • The statement caused damage to the business: The business suffered real damages as a result of the false statement

Satisfying these factors is necessary to pursue damages for your business. A defamation attorney can investigate your case to gather evidence that proves your claims while seeking a favorable outcome. 

Potential Damages for Business Defamation

Along with pursuing justice for the wrongdoing toward your business, filing a claim allows you to seek compensation. Damages for business defamation could include reimbursement for financial losses caused by reputational harm, and a defamation lawyer can calculate the value of your losses and determine how much your claim is worth. 

Additionally, some cases are eligible for punitive damages, which directly punish defendants when their actions go beyond simple negligence. To pursue punitive damages, you must prove the defendant acted with malice or reckless disregard. 

Time Limits for Business Defamation Lawsuits

If you believe you have a claim for business defamation, it’s critical that you consult with a knowledgeable attorney right away. They will be able to determine whether you have a viable claim, and if so, begin working on your case right away.

There is a strict statute of limitations for defamation cases in Rhode Island. Under state law, you only have one year to file your lawsuit. Failing to file your claim within that time can result in forfeiting your right to pursue damages.

Consult With an Experienced Attorney Today

If someone slanders your business, do not wait to speak with a defamation lawyer. The Law Offices of William M. Kolb, LLC is ready to assist you. Our legal team has the experience, skills, and resources to help you with your defamation claim. We proudly serve clients throughout Rhode Island, so contact us today to schedule a consultation.