What You Need to Win a Defamation Lawsuit

December 13, 2023    •    4 min read

Defamation lawsuits can be incredibly complex and emotionally charged legal battles for individuals and businesses alike. There are several key elements of defamation that need to be established and proven to win your defamation lawsuit. Winning a defamation lawsuit requires thorough evidence, legal expertise, and a strong argument to prove the elements necessary to establish your case.

In this article, Buckingham presents the winning strategies you need to succeed in winning a defamation lawsuit.

Initial Considerations

It is important to understand the first steps in pursuing your defamation matter. First, you may wonder, “Is it worth suing for defamation?”. Generally, to prove defamation, you must show that a false statement was made, about you, to third parties, and which caused you damage. Once you have evaluated your case, and determined that you can satisfy these elements, you can then proceed with pursuing your matter.

The next step would be to consider when and where you are going to file your lawsuit. Defamation claims, like all civil claims, are subject to a deadline to file your claim, called the statute of limitations. In many states, the statute is only one year from the date of publication of the statements. There can be many nuances to that rule, so it is important to consider the date to file your suit with an attorney. 

Additionally, you need to figure out where to file your lawsuit. Jurisdiction can be tricky, especially when dealing with online defamation. Generally, though, you must file your action in a Court that has jurisdiction over the Defendant. This, like the statute of limitations, is a complex analysis and best reviewed with an attorney to determine the proper Court to file in. 

Two defamation attorneys sit at a wooden desk and discuss how to win a defamation lawsuit.

How to Win Your Defamation Case

As discussed, defamation cases can be incredibly complex and can be difficult for plaintiffs to prevail. There are certain steps you can take to set yourself up for success in pursuing your claim. 

1. Document, Document, Document

One of the best things you can do to win your defamation case is to document everything. Evidence preservation can be extremely difficult, especially when dealing with online posts. Having evidence of statements being published is critical to satisfying multiple elements of defamation. Preserving everything, from private communications to public posts, is crucial to your case.  Having your evidence preserved at the outset of your matter will help ensure a smooth process of your lawsuit. 

2. Develop Your Damages

Damage from false and defamatory statements is not only an essential component of any defamation claim but also an incredibly complex component. Damages in a defamation setting can take many forms, from economic or monetary damages to emotional distress, to costs incurred in dealing with the fallout from the false statements. It’s important to keep track of all the ways in which your reputation has been damaged, and your mental health affected, by the false and defamatory statements. As with evidence, developing a sound damages theory at the outset of your case can help your case move along in a more efficient manner.

3. Engage with Witnesses

Witnesses are often a critical component to proving your defamation case. Whether the witness saw the statements that were published about you, or will testify about the damage to your reputation, engaging early with your witnesses, and explaining the importance of their testimony, will help secure their willingness to testify on your behalf. No one likes being called as a witness in any court proceeding, so making an early ask of your witnesses can help ease any concerns they might have in participating in the case. Your defamation lawyer can help with this.

4. Secure Expert Witnesses

Expert witnesses can also be an incredibly valuable tool in winning your defamation case. Experts can provide additional support for every element of your defamation case from liability to damages. Securing an expert witness early will give your expert enough time to evaluate all the evidence in your case and draft the best expert report for your matter. 

Female attorney in a pink blazer reviews court documents to support a defamation case with her client.

Defenses to Be Ready For

As defamation is such a complex area of law, there are many defenses to defamation cases that can apply.  It is important to consider all the defenses that a Defendant might be able to present while pursuing your defamation claim. 


Truth is the first, and easiest, defense to a defamation claim. As discussed in the elements of defamation, the statement about you must have been false. If a Defendant can show that the statements were true, or even substantially true, then they could defeat a claim for defamation. 


The second most common defense to defamation claims is that the statement was an opinion. In most situations, statements of opinion will not be considered defamatory. 


Finally, there are numerous privileges that can apply to certain statements in context. If a statement is considered ‘privileged’ then, like opinion statements, it cannot be considered defamatory. 

These are just some examples of the defenses to claims of defamation. These defenses will be presented early and often by Defendants in defamation cases, so being aware of all the defenses is essential when developing your strategy for pursuing your defamation claim. 

What You Need In the End

Developing a strategy for your defamation claim is incredibly important to winning your defamation case. Knowing the evidence you need to present, the witnesses you need to testify, and the experts that you can use to present your case can set you up for success and ensure that your case moves forward as efficiently as possible. 

While there are numerous defenses and privileges that a Defendant will present in your defamation case, if you follow these steps, you will be prepared to handle any situation that pops up. Consulting with an experienced attorney is crucial to ensure you are prepared from the start of your case.

If you’re considering filing an action for defamation, you should consult with an attorney to go over all of these factors. If you’re looking for a defamation attorney, contact the Defamation Team at Buckingham for your free consultation today. 

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