To bring a cause of action for defamation, the law requires the victim to prove that the injurious statement was published, false, caused an injury and was not privileged, according to Nolo. Defamation refers to any statement that causes damage to a person’s reputation.
Spoken defamation is called slander, while written defamation is called libel, and the burden of proof required to make a case depends on whether the injured party is a private person or public figure, explains Nolo. A defendant is liable for defamation of a private person if he knew that the statement was false, acted with reckless disregard of the truth or falsity of the statement when making it, or negligently failed to determine that the statement was false prior to making it. A public figure must show that the person making the defamatory statement knew that the statement was false, or recklessly disregarded the truth or falsity of the statement.