Your reputation is immensely important and one negative statement can ruin it for a long, long time. A wrongful arrest, a false story in a newspaper, reckless statements in the media, and other untrue statements can be quite damaging. The Internet can do widespread and irreparable damage to your reputation. Note, however, that if the statement or information shared is true you have NO DEFAMATION CLAIM.
In North Carolina certain statements will always be considered defamatory and are assumed to harm the plaintiff’s reputation, without further need to prove that actual harm. In North Carolina, a false statement that does any of the following things amounts to libel per se:
- state that a person has committed an infamous crime;
- charges a person with having an infectious disease;
- tends to impeach a person in that person’s trade or profession; or
- otherwise tends to subject one to ridicule, contempt, or disgrace
However, while you may not be required to show actual monetary losses to recover damages in a defamation case the lack of actual monetary loss can greatly diminish the damages to which you may be entitled. Defamatory statements, false accusations, and misleading representations by third parties can cause you the following:
- Loss of your job or business income
- Cost to hire an attorney to defend against criminal charges or represent you in other legal/administrative proceedings
- Embarassment, anxiety, depression
Libel refers to printed or written statements that are false. Slander refers to spoken or verbal statements that are false. Truth is an absolute defense to any defamation claim but other valid defenses also exist. Defamation cases can sometimes involve claims for malicious prosecution or abuse of process.
If you live in North Carolina and believe someone has made a false statement about you which has harmed your business, reputation, or other interests, contact me for a free consultation to discuss your case and potential legal options.
KEY NOTE: The statute of limitations for a defamation claim in North Carolina is very short—-one year from the date of the false statement. It takes an experienced attorney to review your situation and discuss with you the prospects for a successful defamation case.