Representation for a Defamation Lawsuit
Our Defamation Lawyers in Maryland are Ready to Protect You
A defamation lawsuit in Gaithersburg, MD is sometimes necessary to protect your name and receive damages from the losses you have suffered. Untrue or inaccurate statements can ruin your public image or career in an instant. For this reason, Maryland has laws to hold those people who make such statements accountable. If you’ve been the victim of defamation, now is the time to take a stand with the help of Sussman & Simcox. Our experienced team has the skills and knowledge to represent you in court. We’ll work hard to get you a favorable outcome, ensuring the person or company responsible is held liable for their defamatory actions. Contact us today to discuss your case.
What is Defamation?
In the state of Maryland, defamation is defined as any nonfactual or negligent statement made regarding any person or business that injures their reputation. The statement can only be considered defamatory if it was made to a third party without the consent of the defamed party. Statements that only hurt the feelings of the plaintiff, such as those that are unflattering, annoying, or embarrassing, are not considered to be defamation under Maryland law. The statements must have caused either inherent or actual damage to be tried in a defamation lawsuit. Defamation can be broken down into two categories:
- Libel: Libel is defamation in the form of written content, including signs and pictures.
- Slander: Slander is oral defamation, and involves any untrue statements spoken about an individual.
How to Prove Defamation in Maryland
Proving defamation in Maryland is different for private individuals and public figures. If you are a private individual who has been defamed, you only need to prove negligence on the part of the defendant. Our defamation lawyer in Maryland can help you do so. This is just one part of the process in proving a defamation case. We’ll break down what you need to prove in further detail below:
- Negligence: Negligence is described as failing to act with care considering the circumstances. A plaintiff must prove the defendant did not act with a reasonable level of care in publishing or articulating the statement. This can include whether the defendant made a reasonable effort to determine the truth of the statement before making it.
- Falsity of the statement: Convincing evidence must be presented proving the defamatory statement made by the defendant is false. If this cannot be done, or if the statement is, in fact, true, the plaintiff will lose, no matter how damaging, rude, or inappropriate the statement may have been.
Proving Defamation as a Public Figure
A defamation lawsuit in Gaithersburg, MD involving a public figured has an added layer of complexity. Let’s first cover who is considered a public figure. In Maryland, this would be any person elected to a public office or holding a position of public trust. Celebrities, both local and national, are also considered public figures in Maryland. As a public figure fighting defamation, you must take your case a step further and prove the existence of actual malice on the part of the defendant, not just negligence. To prove actual malice, you must show that the defendant acted with knowledge that the defamatory statement was false, or that they acted with reckless disregard as to whether it was false or not. In addition, just like in cases involving private individuals, public figures must also present convincing evidence that the statement in question is false.
What is the Difference between “Per Se” and “Per Quod” Defamation
The state of Maryland allows for the filing of defamation suits under two provisions: per se and per quod. Lawsuits filed under defamation per se involve statements that are inherently defamatory, such as ones implying criminality, fraud, or moral turpitude on the part of the plaintiff. Statements of such a nature are considered inherently defamatory because the harm is evident. In defamation per se cases, the plaintiff is not required to prove actual damages in order to win.
On the other hand, cases which cannot be filed defamation per se must be filed under defamation per quod. In these cases, the jury must decide if the statement in question carries a defamatory meaning. For the jury to determine this, the plaintiff must prove actual damages. Actual damages can be described as any negative consequences the plaintiff suffered as a result of the defamatory statement, such as lost earnings, future lost earning capacity, or other lost business or economic opportunities.
Defending Against a Defamation Lawsuit
At Sussman & Simcox, our defamation lawyer in Maryland can handle cases representing either a plaintiff (an individual who has been defamed) or a defendant (an individual accused of defamation.) If you are a defendant in a defamation case, we will work with you to fully understand your case and defend you in the courtroom. While every case will be different, we find successful defenses in defamation typically include:
- Truth: If the defamatory statement in question can be proved as true, the plaintiff is unable to prove defamation and receive damages.
- Pure opinion: In this defense, the lawyers prove the defamatory statement was presented not as fact, but instead as an opinion.
- No negligence: Defendants who can prove there was no negligence on their part when making the statement, can be successful in court.
Contact Us about your Defamation Lawsuit in Gaithersburg, MD
Sussman & Simcox are here to represent individuals involved in a defamation lawsuit in Gaithersburg, MD, whether you are the plaintiff or the defendant. Our experienced team has the skills needed to fully represent you in court. Get in touch with us today to schedule a free consultation. We’ll evaluate your case and let you know how we can help.
Experience On Your Side
- Hundreds of Cases Tried
- Free Confidential Consultations
- 40+ Years of Combined Experience
- Millions of Dollars in Settlements & Verdicts
- Serving Clients across the State of Maryland