What are my rights if an untrue article was printed in the local paper about me?

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What are my rights if an untrue article was printed in the local paper about me?

Asked on July 11, 2011 under Personal Injury, Texas

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You gave no details of your case. However by way of background, the written form of defamation is libel. In order to prove defamation, generally the party suing (the plaintiff) must prove 4 elements:

  1. Publication - the statement concerning the plaintiff must be made to someone other than or in addition to the plaintiff (a newspaper article qualifies);
  2. False statement of fact - the statement must be one of fact not opinion (i.e. one capable of being proved true or untrue);
  3. Damages - the defamation caused harm to the plaintiff's reputation (although some false statements are considered per se injurious, meaning no actual damages are required); and in some cases 
  4. Malice - if the plaintiff is a public figure, he or she must also prove actual malice (i.e  knowledge that the statement is false and intentionally publishing it anyway).

Before taking the legal route, why not first go the the newspaper in question and request that it publish a retraction of the libelous statements (if you feel the damage done to your reputation can be corrected by such action). If you are successful, this will save you the time and expense of a lawsuit that you may or may not win. In fact, some states require you to do this before a defamation suit can be filed.

You really need to speak directly with an attorney who specializes in defamation cases. They are difficult and expensive. You need experienced counsel to advise you here.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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