What is defamation?
In the most general terms, defamation is the issuance of a false statement about another person, which causes that person to suffer harm. Defamation can come in either the form of libel (written defamation) or slander (oral defamation). To succeed in a case for defamation, you have to prove four elements: 1) a false or defamatory statement was made against you; 2) the statement was made to a third party (anyone other than you, either verbally or in written form); 3) if the defamation was of public concern, then the publisher of the defamation had to be negligent; and 4) you suffered damage, such as an injury to your reputation or, in some cases, mental anguish.
Furthermore, there are several instances that result in defamation “per se,” i.e., the damages are presumed. These instances include attacks on a person’s character or standing, allegations of adultery, allegations someone has an STD, or allegations that a person has committed a crime or moral turpitude. The laws of defamation, however, differ by state, so make sure to check your local statutes if you feel you have been defamed.