The Nevada Supreme Court has described defamation as false statements made about a person that “tend to lower the subject in the estimation of the community and to excite derogatory opinions against him and to hold him up to contempt” (Las Vegas Sun v. Franklin, 1958).
If someone has said or written false things about you that have negatively impacted your reputation—whether on the Internet, in a newspaper, or within your own workplace—you may be able to sue the responsible party in civil court and recover compensation for your losses. Learn more from the Nevada defamation lawyers at Lerner and Rowe Injury Attorneys.
Libel, Slander, and Defamation: What’s the Difference?
Libel and slander are both types of defamation, and you can sue someone for either or both in Nevada. Under the Nevada Revised Statutes, libel is “a malicious defamation, expressed by printing, writing, signs, pictures or the like, tending to blacken the memory of the dead, or to impeach the honesty, integrity, virtue, or reputation, or to publish the natural defects of a living person or persons, or community of persons, or association of persons, and thereby to expose them to public hatred, contempt or ridicule” (N.R.S. 200.510). Libel can be a misdemeanor crime in Nevada, but often results in a tort lawsuit rather than a criminal case.
Slander, on the other hand, refers to defamatory statements that are spoken rather than written. The consequences of slander can be just as damaging and as wide-ranging as that of libel, although evidence of slander may be harder to preserve if it is not written down or recorded.
Four Crucial Elements in Nevada Defamation Cases
If you plan on pursuing a defamation lawsuit against someone in the state of Nevada, your case must prove the following four elements in order to be considered.
A statement was made about the plaintiff that was false and defamatory.
In order to be considered defamation, the statement in question must be a statement of fact, not opinion. For example, a negative restaurant review alone wouldn’t count as defamation, since it reflects the opinion of the food critic. However, if a reviewer falsely claims that a restaurant is infested with roaches, this would more likely be considered defamatory.
That being said, the line between fact and opinion has been muddied in the past. For this reason, according to the Nevada Supreme Court, distinguishing fact from opinion should be based on “whether a reasonable person would be likely to understand the remark as an expression of the source’s opinion or as a statement of existing fact” (Nevada Ind. Broadcasting v. Allen, 1983).
The statement was published or shared with an unprivileged third party.
Many modern defamation cases are based on online statements that are widely visible to the public. But a statement needs only be shared with a single unprivileged third party for it to be considered defamatory. In other words, the false statement was communicated (either by spoken or written means) to someone other than the person the statement is about, and the person does or did not know that the statement is false.
The statement was made negligently*.
Defamation cases are a kind of personal injury lawsuit. In Nevada personal injury lawsuits, plaintiffs seeking compensation for damages must prove that the defendant acted negligently. In the context of libel or slander, negligence may simply amount to not doing enough research to verify that a statement is true or that a source is reliable before publishing it or sharing it with a third party.
*For most people, proving negligence is all that’s needed. As you’ll read below, those who are considered public figures require additional evidence of malice.
The statement caused damages to the plaintiff’s finances, reputation, or both.
Unlike many personal injury cases in which the plaintiff is primarily compensated for physical injuries, the damages awarded to plaintiffs in defamation cases usually include the mental, social, and financial toll of defamatory statements. Nevada defamation lawyers may be able to obtain compensation on behalf of their clients for the following damages:
- Injury to or loss of reputation
- Injury to or loss of community standing (present and future)
- Emotional distress
- Monetary loss
- Punitive damages
Public vs. Private Figures in Nevada Defamation Cases
Any individual whose case meets the four elements of defamation may technically file a lawsuit against the responsible party. However, plaintiffs may be held to slightly different standards of proof depending on their standing in the community. Nevada law recognizes and differentiates between four different kinds of individuals in defamation cases.
- Public Officials. This generally includes elected officials, government employees, teachers, police officers, and anyone who has some sway or influence in government affairs.
- General Purpose Public Figures. Anyone who is considered famous or has a fair amount of notoriety may be considered a public figure. This can include local and national celebrities, prominent business owners, politicians, etc.
- Limited Purpose Public Figures. This refers to a specific subset of people who are only public figures in a certain aspect of their lives. In Nevada, a restaurant may be considered a limited purpose public figure, or a doctor who speaks publicly regarding an ongoing medical debate.
- Private Figures. This refers to everyday people who live their lives outside of the public eye and who do not insert themselves into public controversy.
If someone is considered a public figure, they or their Nevada defamation lawyers must prove all four elements of a defamation case in addition to a fifth element: that the defendant acted maliciously in spreading a false statement—i.e., they knowingly made a false statement about the plaintiff or made a statement they had reason to believe may not be true.
Statute of Limitations on Nevada Defamation Lawsuits
Per N.R.S. 11.190(4)(c), the statute of limitations on Nevada defamation claims is two (2) years from the date the libelous or slanderous material was published.
How Our Nevada Defamation Lawyers Can Help
If you believe you or your business have been a victim of defamation, legal recourse (possibly including monetary compensation) is available. The legal team at Lerner and Rowe Injury Attorneys is accessible around the clock to assist those whose reputations have been harmed by libel or slander.
Our Las Vegas personal injury lawyers offer free consultations to review the details of your case and go over all your legal options, with no obligation to hire us. Should you decide to move forward with our services, you’ll pay us no fees until we’ve made a recovery on your behalf.
To get in touch with experienced Nevada defamation lawyers, call us 24/7 at 702-877-1500. You can also connect with a representative online by using our convenient LiveChat feature, or by filling out this brief intake form.