Categories: Business

Suing For Slander: When Complaints Go Too Far

Most businesses have gotten a few negative comments here and there, either in-person or in writing. With the advent of Google’s business listings, it’s easy for unhappy customers to take their displeasure to the Web and make sure that everyone knows what a horrible experience they had—and that’s completely within their rights, provided they actually had a poor experience.

The problem comes when the commenter in question didn’t actually have a poor experience and is going out of their way to make your business look bad. This is the point when a complaint has gone too far and moved into the territory of defamation. You’re probably familiar with the concept of defamation already, if you’ve ever heard of someone suing for slander or libel, you already know the basics. Slander is spoken while libel is written, and both are public statements designed to damage the reputation of an individual or organization.

The pros at Physician’s Practice give six points that your case needs to hit if you intend to sue for defamation:

  1. The commenter has made a published statement that is either easily viewable by the public, or been delivered to at least one other person.
  2. The published statement must be about you or your business.
  3. The published statement must be false. By definition, the truth is never defamatory, no matter how negative.
  4. The published statement is touted as fact rather than opinion. Insults and complaints of poor service referring to matters of opinion (such as a waitress’ hairstyle being seen as unkempt) are not considered defamation, although they may still be rude and hurtful.
  5. The commenter made the statement with malice, meaning they’re aware that the statement was false and made it anyway. Negligence is also valid for defamation, referring to a disregard of sensitive issues or information.
  6. The actions of the commenter caused you or your business to suffer provable damages; this is by far the most difficult point to prove when it comes to online defamation. It’s best to avail the help of a lawyer in order to assure this is proven clearly in court.

Ten years ago it may have been significantly more difficult to handle a defamation suit based on online comments, but today there’s clear precedence for it—Eater reports that in 2012, a Virginia woman posted a libelous review on Yelp and was brought to court on a $750 thousand lawsuit on the grounds of defamation. It’s worth mentioning, however, that just because someone said something awful about your company doesn’t mean that you can bite back. While the defendant in this case was found guilty, the complexities of the case led to the prosecutor also being found guilty of defamation.

When it comes to protecting your business online, the first step is to be aware of your reputation. Monitor your reviews and research complaints thoroughly before jumping on a lawsuit. There are dishonest people out there, but sometimes a bad review is just a bad review.

If you feel it’s time to take the next step and get the guidance from an attorney, Van Horn Law Group has the resources and experience to help you.

Published by
Chad Van Horn

Recent Posts

Everything You Need to Know About Tax Refund Offset Reversal 2022

Tax refund season is like a holiday season in the United States. People look forward…

2 days ago

What Should You Do if You are Sued by a Credit Card Company in Florida?

Being sued by a credit card company in Florida is a stressful, confusing, and frustrating…

1 week ago

What You Need to Know About an IRS Installment Agreement While in Chapter 13

Can you continue with an IRS installment agreement while in Chapter 13 bankruptcy? Unfortunately, no.

2 weeks ago

Here’s How a Zero Down Bankruptcy Can Help You Afford a Debt Relief Solution

Learn more about the zero down bankruptcy and to start your journey toward a better,…

1 month ago

The Real-World Guide for How to Pay Off Holiday Debt

If you are wondering how to pay off holiday debt, check out these tips –…

1 month ago

Can Debt Collectors Use Social Media to Contact You?

Can debt collectors use social media to contact you? The short answer is yes. As…

1 month ago