When most people think about personal injury lawsuits, they tend to think the plaintiff was physically harmed in some way or another. What many people fail to remember, however, is that defamation is also a form of personal injury.

Defamation includes libelous statements and slander about a person or business. Libel goes unnoticed all too often, but the role of social media in society today has generated a forum for almost everyone to stay updated in all aspects of life — and has also led to an explosion of digital-first libel cases. The last thing you’d want is to have libelous statements about your company and the people in it all throughout social media. People often overlook libel and slander through digital outlets such as social media, but the truth is that it can cause major disruption to a person’s reputation and a company’s image.  In order to protect yourself from accusations of libel, you should consider consulting a personal injury lawyer in order to save yourself the damage to your reputation and further ramifications.

Libel can be a tricky topic to deal with because it’s somewhat subjective. In short, libel is the publication of false information that would cause someone ridicule, contempt, or some other form of harm. Libel can be split in two categories: written or mass distributed defamatory material. It may also be viewed as slander when it’s in the form of spoken words, although this is typically only the case for a small audience.

Personal Injury: Defamation-Libel and Slander

Hiring a lawyer is very beneficial and almost always essential in libel cases because libel deals with a person’s image and serves to ward off false and vicious claims. Libel can go so far as to interfere with someone’s personal relationships through the destruction of a favorable public image. This can also create a negative public image for a person who previously had no public image. Sometimes the only way to restore your public image is by hiring a lawyer to prove the libelous statement a falsehood. Personal injury lawyers will not only help you regarding your image but will also ensure you receive compensation for the economic and emotional harm libel may end up having on your life. It’s just as easy to commit libel on your blog, Twitter, or Facebook than it is by word of mouth.  In fact earlier this year, actress Courtney Love became an emblem for libelous social media cases. After consulting a lawyer, Courtney Love won what was considered to be the first “Twibel” lawsuit in the U.S.

One of the most famous libel cases, which has become a landmark for future libel cases in the U.S., was New York Times v. Sullivan (1964). With the Civil Rights Movement alive and well in the Deep South, the NYT ran an ad that criticized public officials in Alabama for misconduct related to the Civil Rights Movement. The ad implied that Montgomery Police Commissioner LB Sullivan had committed wrongdoing and although the Montgomery Public Safety commissioner, L. B. Sullivan, was not directly named in the advertisement, the false criticism of police actions was considered defamatory to Sullivan since it was his duty to supervise the police department. Due the presence of small factual errors and defamatory remarks, Sullivan sued for libel in Alabama and won compensation equal to $500,000. This iconic case built new grounds for the scrutiny of libel in America over the course of history. Libel can hold messy implications if not treated properly. A lawyer will aid in defending the accused by generating a case pursuant on the grounds of libelous accounts.

Written by Kellie Bertels, an attorney with the firm Bandré, Hunt & Snider, LLC where they are the leading personal injury attorneys in Jefferson City MO.