Talking Trash and the Law

Jul 9, 2018 | Allen A. Ritchie

Defamation – Mobile

Did you argue with the relatives this 4th of July? This is America where we speak our minds … sometimes too often.

Now someone called you a bad name, stated you were mentally unstable or even questioned your birthright, that is what the law calls defamation, and it is not a crime. No one is going to jail. It is a tort and that means you can get money to fix the injustice done to you.

If you are still mad at your cousin, let me spell out the 4 main things you must prove before you threaten to sue and divide the family even more. There are exceptions, but these are the basics.

4 Considerations for Defamation

  • Presented
  • Untrue
  • Caused Harm
  • Not Exempted

Now it must be presented – that is written or spoken. It doesn’t matter if it is a chalk drawing or done in sky writing, but just thinking it doesn’t make it actionable.

Then it must be untrue. Generally, the law says if you did it, you have to suffer people talking about it.

Now add, it must cause harm. You can call your uncle the vilest names but if he goes on to continue to sell insurance and be a deacon at the church, he can’t get money just because you lied.

And finally, he or she can not be from an exempted group. It might not surprise you that those who make the laws have made one that exempts them from being sued for statements made in their official capacity. However, this might surprise you; witnesses who lie in court can not be sued by the people they lied about. But here is the twist, they can be criminally prosecuted for perjury and go to jail.

My professional advice: enjoy your family this summer and save the fighting for football season.

If you are hurt in a traffic accident or suffer a personal injury, you can talk to us at the Law Firm of Eiland and Ritchie for free. We want to help you get back on your feet.

Also join us on NBC 15 LawCall here in Mobile every Sunday night at 10:30 right after the news. We will take your calls live.

Allen Ritchie

Alabama personal injury lawyer