Florida defamation attorney, Matt Weidner, is here today sharing Florida defamation laws that you should know about if you are planning on pursuing a defamation suit in the state of Florida. It’s always advisable to retain an attorney who is experienced in defamation suits when pursuing your own defamation case, but even with an attorney on board, you need to familiarize yourself with laws pertaining libel and slander to better help yourself.
Florida Defamation Attorney, Matt Weidner Shares Florida Defamation Laws You Should Know
Using Defamation as an Umbrella Term…
Although there are two types of defamation – slander and libel – both are covered under the umbrella term of defamation. That said, when it comes to the penalty for defamation, traditionally the penalty for libel is harsher because written defamation (or libel) is considered to be longer lasting and more impactful than spoken defamation. Just to add another twist into the mix, however, most courts today consider defamatory statements made over the radio, on television, or on the internet, to be libel as well.
Civil or Criminal Defamation Suits?
While most states no longer have criminal defamation statutes on the books, Florida does. This means that you can bring a civil or criminal charge of defamation against someone in the state of Florida.
The statute of limitations for a defamation case in the state of Florida is two years. This means that you have two years from the time of defamation to file a civil or criminal suit against the individual or organization who defamed you.
There are numerous reasons why there is a statute of limitations in place for defamation suits:
- It encourages a plaintiff to file suit with diligence and due care.
- It prevents the destruction or loss of evidence or supporting materials that a defendant may need access to in order to properly defend themselves against accusations of defamation.
- It prevents individuals from bringing defamation suits out of “cruelty” rather than out of a desire to seek justice.
Defamation Per Se
In the state of Florida, courts also recognize something called “defamation per se”. That is, statements that the state considers to be inherently defamatory where a plaintiff need not prove that any damages occurred as a result of the statement because the statement in itself is considered to be damaging in and of itself.
There are four types of defamation per se statements that are recognized in Florida:
- Statements that are made about a person committing a felony.
- Statements that assert that an individual has a disease.
- Statements or insinuations that someone has characteristics which make them unfit for business.
- Statements that posit that a woman has acted promiscuously.
Defamation Per Quod
In the state of Florida, defamation per quod is the opposite of defamation per se. In a defamation per quod suit, you must particularize or estimate the damages that occurred as a direct result of the defamation and prove that the defamation was the direct cause of those damages.
Defamation By Implication
In the state of Florida, defamation by implication is when someone makes a true statement but makes it in a way that has a defamatory implication. This type of defamation is unique because other defamation types depend upon a statement being untrue where defamation by implication takes a statement that is true and requires the plaintiff to prove that the statement was made in such a way that had a defamatory implication which then damaged their reputation.
The Florida Long-Arm Statute
The Florida Long-Arm statute is a statute that states that even if someone commits defamation online and that defamation is viewed by a third party in the state of Florida, the individual who made that defamatory statement is not immune to liability and they can be subjected to Florida law for committing the act of defamation.
Where Should You Sue For Defamation?
In the state of Florida, you may sue for defamation where you reside, where the defamation leading to your lawsuit occurred, or where the property in question is located depending on the circumstances.
So for example:
You live in Florida and own a rental home in Tennessee.
Someone living in North Carolina asked to stay in your rental home and you refused after reading their feedback score on the vacation rental website.
That person you refused then publicly defamed your rental home, saying that it was riddled with fleas.
In this instance, which location should you sue in?
Your first option is the state of Florida. If you and the defendant both live in the state of Florida, this is the appropriate location to file suit.
Since you and defendant do not live in the same state, your second option is to file suit where the defamation leading to your lawsuit occurred, that is, North Carolina in this example.
However, if the defamation was made in reference to a property, you may also bring suit in the state where the property in question is located, that is, Tennessee in this example.
Now, what if the defendant had lived in Florida when they defamed your rental property and later moved to North Carolina? In this incidence, Florida would see Florida as the more appropriate location for bringing suit since, at the time of the defamation, both of you lived in Florida.
Do You Need Representation From a Florida Defamation Attorney?
If you’re in the St Pete area and are seeking representation from an experienced Florida defamation attorney, Weidner Law can help. To find out how the team at Weidner Law can help you, pick up the phone and call 727-954-8752 today to make an appointment for your consultation and to start your pursuit of a defamation case!