What Happens in a Defamation Lawsuit?

24/7 Lawyers for Victims of Defamation

If you believe you are the victim of defamation, you should seek legal advice to guide your next steps, including whether to bring a lawsuit. An experienced law firm such as Lerner and Rowe Injury Attorneys will be able to guide you through the various requirements of proving your case and help identify the strengths and potential weaknesses of your claim.

Contact us today for a free consultation.

What Is the Defamation Lawsuit Process?

defamation lawsuit

This initial process includes gathering records and documents related to your case, investigating the facts, and evaluating whether a case for defamation (or additional claims, including tortious interference, invasion of privacy, fraud, infliction of emotional distress, etc.) is appropriate. 

After consulting with an attorney regarding your case, the first formal steps to a defamation lawsuit include drafting and filing a complaint with the court and serving the individual (called the defendant) who made the harmful, untrue statements about you (the plaintiff). This process can be confusing to navigate if you are not represented by a lawyer. 

Then, after you have filed and served your complaint, the defendant must respond, typically in the form of an answer that admits or denies each of the allegations in the complaint. 

Once the defendant responds to the complaint, the next step in the litigation process is called discovery. In the time of discovery, which often lasts several months or more, both sides exchange information in preparation for trial. 

Having an attorney is particularly important at this stage because discovery of a defamation lawsuit requires in-depth knowledge of evidence rules, as well as an understanding of legal strategy. 

During the discovery process, your attorney will:

  1. Draft written questions (called interrogatories) that the other party must answer in writing and under oath.
  2. Request records and documents from the other party and witnesses. 
  3. Ask formal questions (called a deposition) of the other party and witnesses that they must answer under oath. 

How Much Do Defamation Lawsuits Cost?

Defamation cases can be expensive because they are often fact-driven. As a plaintiff, either you or your attorney will likely spend significant time and money building evidence through investigation, depositions, and interrogatories. 

For example, bringing a lawsuit over a defamatory statement made online may involve investigating the identity behind anonymous screen names or email addresses and proving that the disparaging post was a false statement of fact rather than an expression of opinion. 

However, you pay Lerner and Rowe nothing for the call, initial consultation, or upfront legal fees and costs associated with case investigations and document collection until we win your case. That’s our no fee promise!   

Strategies for Fighting Online Defamation Statements 

There are many specific strategies and procedures for dealing with defamatory statements on the Internet that require expertise with domain registrars, proxy services, Section 230 Immunity under the Communications Decency Act, user generated content, IP tracking, ISP subpoenas, and other related issues under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. 

Additionally, plaintiffs may have to prove what damages they suffered because of the defamation, which can sometimes be challenging. 

Damages can include:

  • Harm to reputation, property, and profession
  • Emotional or psychological trauma resulting from the defamation
  • Costs associated with hiring an expert witness to testify on your behalf in support of the amount you claim

How to Reach a Defamation Case Settlement

Defamation settlement

In most civil lawsuits, including defamation cases, the parties are able to reach a settlement before the case makes it to trial. Sometimes the parties, typically with help from their attorneys, are able to come to an agreement on their own. 

Other times, some form of alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation or arbitration with a neutral third party, can help the parties reach an agreement before trial. Additionally, some cases settle even before a lawsuit is even filed, following a demand letter sent by your attorney. 

If the parties do not settle, the case will proceed to trial, when both the plaintiff and defendant will present their cases, including expert testimony. This is the most critical time in your case to be represented by an attorney because trial is very often complex and time-consuming. 

Your job will be to try to convince the jury that you (the plaintiff) were harmed by the defendant’s defamatory statements, and the defendant will argue the opposite. An experienced attorney will know how to put forward the best case and help you reach the best outcome. 

Contact Us for a Free Legal Consultation

At Lerner and Rowe Injury Attorneys, our team is dedicated to helping you navigate the complex legal questions that arise in every defamation lawsuit. If you or your business have been the target of disparaging statements by others, our defamation attorneys will be able to help you properly assess your options and develop an effective legal strategy. Our lawyers are currently accepting the following cases:

Call us today for a free, personal consultation. You can reach us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week toll-free at 844-977-1900 to see if you may be entitled to compensation for any damages resulting from any defamatory remarks made against you.