Libel is a specific type of defamation that occurs in a preserved medium. This can include defamatory statements made in writing or other print methods or statements made during a recorded broadcast. Because the public often receives libelous statements through newspapers or television broadcasts, they can be especially harmful. Individuals who are the subject of libelous statements often face backlash in their communities that can affect them and their loved ones both socially and professionally.
For an individual who has suffered due to untrue and damaging statements regarding his or her personal or professional character, a Virginia libel attorney may be able to help. Virginia libel attorneys can pursue compensation on behalf of their injured clients, including special damages for provable expenses resulting from a libelous statement, general damages for harm to reputation and other intangible injuries, and in some cases punitive damages designed to punish the offending party for its egregious conduct. Occasionally, these awards can be quite substantial.
What is not libel?
Not every damaging print or broadcast statement, however, is libel. Statements that are true are not actionable under Virginia libel laws, regardless of how damaging they may be. Statements in official documents such as court transcripts are also usually not actionable libel. Moreover, a news outlet is not liable for accurately reporting such statements.
Statements of opinion regarding public figures also do not usually qualify as libel. This can include vague or unverifiable statements, political statements, or satire. In the context of public figures, news outlets may have protection from liability even for untrue and injurious statements, so long as the outlet did not report those statements with actual malice. This means that the outlet did not have actual knowledge of the falsity of the report and did not proceed with reckless disregard for the truth.
What is and is not libel is a complicated issue that takes into account many factors, including the identities of the parties and the context surrounding the allegedly libelous statement. For these reasons, an individual who feels he or she has been the victim of libel should promptly consult a libel lawyer in Virginia. Libel lawyers can use their knowledge and experience to determine whether damaging statements are in fact actionable under Virginia libel laws.
Contact a lawyer with proven experience in libel cases
The law firm of Jeremiah A. Denton, III, P.C. is a civil litigation firm that focuses its practice on defamation, sexual harassment, and legal malpractice claims. With over 50 years of combined experience, their attorneys represent plaintiffs throughout eastern Virginia. Their offices are located at Pinehurst Centre, 447 Viking Drive, Suite 100 in Virginia Beach, VA 23452. They are available by phone at 757-215-4818 or through their online contact page.