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  • Writer's pictureLee Livingston

Words Matter: Virginia Defamation Law with Lee Livingston.

Updated: Nov 1, 2023

As an individual or business owner, you work hard to establish a positive reputation. Unfortunately, false statements made by others can damage that reputation and lead to significant financial and emotional harm. This is where defamation law comes in.

Defamation occurs when someone makes a false statement about you or your business that harms your reputation. In Virginia, there are two types of defamation: libel and slander.

Libel is a written or printed false statement that is published and harms your reputation. Slander, on the other hand, is a false statement that is spoken and harms your reputation. Both types of defamation can result in serious harm, including lost business opportunities, damage to personal relationships, and emotional distress.

To prove defamation in Virginia, you must show that the statement made was false and that it harmed your reputation. You must also demonstrate that the person who made the statement acted with malice or negligence, meaning they knew or should have known that the statement was false or had no basis in fact. You must also show that the statement was made to a third party and that it was not privileged. For example, statements made in court proceedings or by government officials may be privileged and not subject to defamation claims.

It's important to note that not all negative statements are defamatory. Opinions, for example, are protected by the First Amendment and cannot be considered defamatory. Similarly, if the statement is true, it cannot be defamatory, even if it harms your reputation.

In Virginia, you have one year from the date of publication of the defamatory statement to file a lawsuit for libel or slander. If you wait too long, you may lose your right to pursue legal action.

In addition, Virginia has a "single publication rule," which means that if the defamatory statement is published in a book or newspaper, you only have one year from the initial publication date to file a lawsuit. However, if the statement is published online, the statute of limitations may be extended.

Defamation cases can be complex and require a thorough understanding of Virginia law. That's why it's important to have an experienced attorney on your side. They can help you evaluate the strength of your case and determine the best course of action.

If you believe you have been the victim of defamation in Virginia, don't hesitate to contact one of our attorneys for a free consultation. We can help you protect your reputation and get the compensation you deserve.

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