As a general rule, defamation occurs when someone makes a statement of fact about you, that is false, they know the statement is false, they “publish” the statement to a third party and you are harmed.
Libel is defamation that is written. Slander is defamation that is spoken.
Questions to ask a defamation attorney before you decide to hire them:
- Does the lawyer have experience representing people who have sued for defamation and people that have been sued for defamation?
- How long has the lawyer been doing this type of work?
- Does the lawyer have experience with your particular type of case (e.g., defamation claims against a newspaper are very different than claims against a former employer who has given a bad reference)?
- Does the lawyer have experience litigating a defamation case including preparing pleadings, conducting depositions and handling motions?
- Has the lawyer tried a defamation case to a verdict before a Judge or a Jury? Does the lawyer participate in relevant local, state and national bar/defamation law associations?
- Does the lawyer teach other lawyers about how to handle defamation cases? Does the lawyer have a web site or other information about his/her professional experiences and credentials?
- Can the lawyer provide you with the name of a former client or two that would be willing to discuss their experience with the lawyer?