The First Amendment exists to protect our right to freedom of speech, but when someone makes a statement that negatively impacts another person or business, it has the potential to carry with it legal consequences. Libel lawyers in San Diego know that a written statement must be a false statement of fact, and at least negligently made actually be considered libel. There are many different situations where this accusation is appropriate, but often times the defamatory statement is protected speech.
A business owner, for example, may not like the negative review you wrote about your experience and think it constitutes libel. Whether you ordered products, ate at a restaurant, or hired a contractor, it’s possible you weren’t happy about an aspect of the service, and want to share your opinion with the online community. While a negative review in itself isn’t libel, review websites like Yelp have become so popular they have huge potential to impact a consumer’s spending habits. Because of this influence, business owners carefully scrutinizing their business’s reviews and sometimes even pursue legal action against reviewers. If you’re being sued for a defamatory statement you made, it’s important to consult a skilled libel lawyer who can review all the possible defenses for your situation.
The ultimate defense to a libel accusation is truth. Defamatory written statements are not considered libel if they are factual. Truth is an absolute defense to libel, and this is also why statements of opinion cannot be considered libel. But what about a statement that blurs the boundaries between fact and opinion? For example, mentioning to a coworker that you think someone is stealing from the company because they were acting suspiciously. Is “acting suspiciously” a statement of fact or opinion? Courts often rule that opinions that imply factual information are actually statements of fact. These are the kinds of situations that require a skilled libel lawyer in San Diego who can defend your rights through litigation or mediation. If you’ve been accused of libel in San Diego, contact The Law Office of Ryan T. Darby today to discuss your situation.