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Party Foul! Dealing With Slanderous Statements Overheard At Parties

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Parties are often a great way to get together with friends, but what happens when you hear somebody you barely know making negative statements about you at a party? Is this an instance of slander and can you sue and win?

Deciding If It Qualifies For Slander

One of the difficulties of slander cases is deciding whether or not the comments made by the person even qualify as slander. In a party situation, people say a lot of ridiculous things and there's a chance that their off-hand comment was a joke. However, it may be slander if their statement was:

  • A deliberate lie, not a misunderstanding
  • Intended to hurt your character or make people think less of you
  • Being used to potentially blackmail or control you in some way
  • Indicating you in an illegal or immoral activity that you did not perform

Let's say you overhear somebody at a party saying you were fired from your job when you were not. You confront the person and you find out that they had mistaken you for somebody else in the office. This is not slander; it is a misunderstanding.

However, if this person is insisting you lost your job and claims it was because of bad behaviors that you didn't actually commit, then you likely have a case of slander on your hands. Remember, there's a big difference between casual party banter and deliberately attempting to defame you.

Proving That Slander Happened

So you've heard all you could stand from that person at the party and you're convinced they are trying to slander your name. What can you do to prove it? This is one of the hardest aspects of any slander case, as slander is not written down, but passed by word of mouth.

In a slander case, you must prove the following against the defendant:

  • They made a false and defamatory statement about you
  • The statement was made to a third party
  • The person making the statement did so in a negligent or purposefully harmful way

After you overhear the statement, immediately talk to the person who heard it. Ask them what they said, getting details on how it was related, and ask them if the defendant was telling anyone else. Gathering up potential witnesses like this is crucial, and in a party situation, will be relatively easy as everyone is gathered in one place.

Damages You Can Expect

You're ready to pursue this case, having gotten the contact information of all the witnesses at the party. Now you want to know what kind of damages you can expect. In a slander case, you are eligible for certain types of damage:

  • Lost economic opportunities
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Health problems that occurred because of the statement
  • Decreased salary
  • Personal pain and suffering

Proving economic-based damages is tricky and requires calculating the impact of the slander you heard at the party. If it was a one-time thing and wasn't spread beyond a few people, you're not likely to have lost too much, if any, of your earning capacity.

The latter point, personal pain and suffering, is probably your most likely bet in this particular case. However, you need to prove that you suffered from emotional anguish dealing with the situation, such as statements from witnesses or from a psychologist.

Hearing somebody talk negatively about you at a party can be a disappointing experience but if you're careful, you might be able to get some compensation. For help setting up your case, call a personal injury lawyer such as Kidwell & Gallagher LTD right away.