Slander – What Is the Legal Definition?

SLANDER IS A FORM OF DEFAMATION

IT OCCURS WHEN A DEFAMATORY STATEMENT IS MADE ORALLY, AS OPPOSED TO IN WRITING.

Slander Definition

Slander is a form of the tort of defamation. (A “tort” is a wrongful act that entitles the act’s victim to monetary
compensation.)  It takes place when someone defames someone else in an oral (as opposed to written)  statement.

A July 31, 2015 New Jersey appeals court ruling discusses what exactly constitutes slander. Below are some excerpts from the case.

According to the appeals judges, to prove slander, a victim must show three things. First, that the perpetrator made a false statement concerning the victim. Second, that the statement was communicated to another person. Third, that the perpetrator acted at least carelessly in making the defamatory statement, if not recklessly or intentionally.

Slander cases also generally require that the victim have suffered a “special damage”. A “special” damage is defined as an economic loss.

However, if the case is particularly egregious, it is called slander “per se.”  Such a case might involve an accusation of a crime, a loathsome disease, dishonesty in business, or serious sexual misconduct. In such a  “per se” case, the requirement of proving a “special” damage drops away. In this type of case, the jury may presume that the victim suffered harm, even without proof.

Most personal injury cases in New Jersey have a two year statute of limitations (deadline to sue). However, there is a one-year statute of limitations for defamation, including for slander. This one year suit deadline is found in New Jersey statute 2A:14-3.

There are some additional exceptions and requirements in defamation cases. Space limitations do not permit me to include them here. Therefore, as in any personal injury case, if you feel that you have been a victim, you should immediately consult an experienced personal injury lawyer.

slander definition

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