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Defamation and Privacy Claims in Wisconsin

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We all have our right to privacy. We also have the right to express ourselves freely without having others’ perceptions of us colored by inflammatory statements. A violation of either of these rights can hurt your career by making you look like a criminal or simply misrepresenting your character. In today’s world of social media and private information in “the cloud,” it can sometimes be difficult to determine the lines of an individual or company’s privacy and differentiate between a fair statement and a defaming one.

Defamation and invasion of privacy claims are civil torts. This means that the victim can seek compensation for his or her damages resulting from the offending party’s actions from the offending party. In Appleton, civil cases are handled by the Outagamie County Circuit Court.

Types of Defamation Claim

Defamation is defined as any false statement of fact made about an individual or group that paints the subject as having poor character, a criminal history, a poor work ethic or fabricated credentials, or any other characteristic that could alter their social standing, such as having a highly contagious illness. What separates defamation from simply expressing a negative opinion about a subject is that a defaming statement is made as if it were the truth and that it can potentially cause the subject to suffer financially as a result.

For example, stating that an individual has a history of stealing from his or her employers could cost him or her a job. When a defaming statement is made orally, it is known as slander. When it is written, it is known as libel.

Whether the subject of a defamatory statement is a public figure or a private individual plays a role in determining whether the offender is liable for the subject’s damages. For a private individual to recover compensation through a defamation claim, he or she must prove that the offender was negligent in determining whether the statement was true. If the victim was a public figure, he or she must additionally demonstrate that the offender acted in a reckless or malicious manner.

Examples of Invasion of Privacy Claims

Privacy invasion claims are similar to defamation claims in that they can cause the victim to lose money by negatively impacting his or her public character. A privacy violation can fall into one of the following four categories:

  • Intrusion of solitude. Attempting to watch an individual from outside his or her home, going through the individual’s private records, and repeatedly harassing him or her are all examples of intruding on the victim’s right to privacy;
  • False light. Publishing or disclosing private information about an individual that, although not technically incorrect, portrays him or her in a negative or misleading manner may be deemed to be an in invasion of the victim’s privacy;
  • Public disclosure of private facts. Certain facts and images, such as the terms of one’s privately-settled divorce, may not be publicly broadcast without his or her consent. Doing so is an invasion of the victim’s privacy; and
  • Appropriating one’s likeness or image. Impersonating another individual for the purpose of profiting from his or her name or likeness or the purpose of obtaining sensitive information is an illegal use of the victim’s identity.

Work with an Experienced Appleton Personal Injury Lawyer

If you have suffered damages because of a statement another individual or group made about you or your business, you could be entitled to recover compensation for these damages through a defamation claim with the help of a personal injury attorney in Appleton, WI. Similarly, if you or your company suffered damages through a breach of your privacy, you may be entitled to recover compensation through a privacy violation claim. To learn more, schedule your initial legal consultation with a member of our team of civil litigation attorneys at Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, LLC today.

Get In Touch sidebar with Hammet, Bellin & Oswald, LLC. Attorneys at Law
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Neenah Office 675 Deerwood Avenue Neenah, WI 54956 (920) 720-0000

Appleton Office 4650 W. Spencer Street Appleton, WI 54914 (920) 720-6389