When it comes to filing a Florida libel suit, there are a few things that you need to know in order to decide whether filing a suit is the right choice for you. Now, over the past few weeks, we have talked a lot about the different types of defamation, why it’s important to hire a Florida defamation attorney if you plan on filing a defamation suit in the state of Florida, and a number of the laws that apply to Florida defamation suits. Today we’re going to be highlighting 9 things that you should know about filing a libel suit in the state of Florida, some of these we have touched on before and some of them we have not.
9 Things You Should Know About Filing a Florida Libel Suit
1. Bloggers Are Considered Journalists
For the purpose of libel suits, in the state of Florida bloggers are considered to be on the same platform as journalists and so they are held to the same standards. Of course, this means that bloggers can be prosecuted for libel in the same way that journalists can be which makes running an online blog something of a risky occupation if you intend on targeting others with your blog posts…unless, of course, your blog post is purely opinion. As you may recall from previous posts this month, an opinion cannot be considered defamatory.
2. Other Digital Comments and Articles Can Be Considered Libel
In our technology-dependent era, it’s common for people to post comments and articles in which they take on the role of a “keyboard warrior” and attack the reputation and character of others. In the state of Florida, however, these types of digital postings are considered to be “other media” and can be classified as libel if the plaintiff can prove that the statements meet the necessary criteria for being libelous.
3. Public Figures Have a Higher Burden of Proof in Cases of Defamation
When it comes to defamation in the state of Florida, if you are a public figure or deemed to be a public figure by the court, you have a higher burden of proof than a private party. When acting as a public figure it is the right of the people to criticize you as a representative, so in order to prove that an act was indeed defamatory, a public figure must be able to prove that the statement was made with actual malice. In contrast, a private individual does not have to prove that actual malice was present for a statement to be considered defamatory.
4. The Florida Statute of Limitations on Defamation Does Not “Reset”
What this means is that in the state of Florida the statute of limitations does not “begin again” each time defamatory information is accessed. For example, a libelous article about you that is republished years later and the topic of the article once again becomes an issue in your life. In Florida, you may not sue for defamation is the second publishing of the article were, for example, four years later, because the statute of limitations on defamation in Florida is two years. So, if you fail to file a defamation suit against the author of the article within two years of the original publishing of the article, you may not file suit at all. This is frequently referred to in the legal community as the “single publication rule”.
5. In the State of Florida, There Are Multiple Common Defamation Defenses
In Florida, there are multiple common defamation defenses which are used to defend individuals being accused of defamation. The most common defense excuses include:
- Privilege (Absolute, Qualified, Statutory, & Fair Report)
- Incremental Harm Doctrine
- Wire Service Defense
- The Communications Decency Act
If you have been accused of defamation and want to know more about these defamation defenses, contact a defamation attorney to discuss how they may apply to your case.
6. The Burden of Proof
In the state of Florida when pursuing a case of defamation, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff or the individual who is claiming defamation. You may recall from previous posts that this means that you must prove multiple criteria to be present or characteristic of what was said in order for it to be pursued as legitimate defamation.
7. The Truth
In the state of Florida a statement – either written or spoken – cannot be considered defamatory if that statement was true. Yes, this includes things that you would rather not admit to. It doesn’t matter if you are reluctant to admit to something or not, if it can be proven to be true, then you have no grounds for a defamation suit.
8. Absolutely Immune From Defamation Claims
In the state of Florida, certain types of statements are considered to be absolutely immune from defamation claims. The biggest class of statements that are protected under this immunity are statements that have been made during judicial proceedings. In judicial proceedings, this immunity extends to statements that are made by witnesses, judges, attorneys, or other parties involved in the case.
9. Government Duties and Responsibilities
In the state of Florida, the absolute immunity rule is also extended to officials working for all branches of the government when the statements made are connected to their responsibilities or duties involved with their job.
Do You Need Representation For Your Florida Libel Suit?
If you live in or around the St. Pete, Florida area and need experienced representation for your Florida libel suit, Weidner Law can help. Just pick up the phone and dial 727-954-8752 to see how Weidner Law attorneys can help you in winning your libel case. Don’t have access to a phone right now? Use the Weidner Law contact form online to request assistance!