Making false claims about another person could lead to legal troubles. The same could apply to a business enterprise. False statements that hurt a person or business’s reputation and cause them to suffer losses may not go unanswered as the victim could file a lawsuit. In some cases, the plaintiff must prove damages in a California courtroom. However, there are situations where proving damages might not be necessary.
Defamation per se
Defamation involves making false and harmful statements either in writing or orally. When writing false statements, a person commits libel. Oral statements would be slander. When the defamatory statements are highly egregious and fall under specific legal definitions of defamation per se, providing proof of damages is not legally necessary.
In general, four forms could rise to the level of defamation per se. Claiming someone committed a crime, has a contagious disease, engages in sexual misconduct, or has made harmful attacks on a business or profession. State laws vary. Under California law, a plaintiff may seek actual damages, assumed damages, and even punitive damages when suing for defamation.
Matters of defamation
Commercial litigation may involve taking action against someone who defamed a company. A competitor might spread false information about a company, intending to harm its brand or position in the marketplace. A disgruntled customer might do the same. Making statements that the business is involved in illegal activities could lead to the accuser facing a defamation lawsuit.
A successful defamation lawsuit could help a business recover financial losses from false statements. News about a legal win or settlement might help rehabilitate a brand’s name after false statements cause harm.