If someone publicly makes a false statement about you that damages your reputation in the eyes of the public, that is an example of defamation. There are two different types of defamation: libel, which appears in writing, and slander, which involves spoken words.
Generally speaking, to win a defamation lawsuit against someone who has made false statements about you, you have to prove that his or her actions hurt you in some way. However, that is not always necessary.
What is defamation per se?
According to Stat Pearls, defamation per se is a false statement about you that the law presumes to be damaging to your reputation at baseline. If the statement meets the criteria of defamation per se, you only have to prove that the statement is false; you do not need to prove that you have suffered damage as a result of it.
What are the criteria for defamation per se?
According to G2, there are four different criteria that, if present, qualify a false statement against you as defamation per se:
- Claiming that you lack the ability to do your job
- Alleging that you engaged in serious sexual misconduct
- Claiming that you have a serious infectious disease
- Accusing you of a crime
A false statement against you only has to meet one of these criteria to qualify as defamation per se.
If the statement does not meet one of these criteria, you can still file a lawsuit for defamation. If the statement is not defamation per se, you need to be able to demonstrate to the court how you have come to harm as a result of it.