Can Online Reviews Result in a Defamation Lawsuit?

We live in an online world. People use the internet every day to make decisions about the businesses they rely on for various goods and services. This makes online reviews crucial in today’s market, swaying consumer choices when deciding between one Florida business and the next.

However, what happens when an online review crosses the line from a helpful critique to a harmful lie that impacts your business’ reputation and, ultimately, your bottom line? Businesses may be surprised to learn that these reviews actually qualify as defamation in some cases – allowing you to take legal action to not only get the review removed but also recoup some losses.

At The Law Office of Ray Garcia, we know firsthand how a defamation lawsuit like this plays out because we recently handled a case in defense of a Florida business.

How Does the Law Define Defamation?

Before we dive into defamation lawsuits as they pertain to online reviews, it’s important to define exactly how the law defines the term. In Florida, we look to relevant case law for precedent on defining defamation.

According to Valencia v. Citibank Int’l, 728 So. 2d 330, 330 (Fla. 3rd DCA 1999), which is quoted in subsequent rulings on the matter, four elements are necessary to prove defamation against a Florida business:

  1. The defendant published a false statement
  2. about the plaintiff
  3. to a third party
  4. that the falsity of the statement caused injury to the plaintiff

When all four of these elements are present in a negative online review and the defendant has refused to correct or remove the statements, a defamation lawsuit may be filed.

When a Review Falls Short of Defamation

The fact is, most reviews fall well short of these guidelines. Not all negative feedback constitutes defamation. People have the right to voice their genuine experiences and defend their viewpoints, even if those are unfavorable.

Before considering legal action, it’s crucial to understand the various defenses an individual may apply to defeat a suit. If the statement is true, purely opinion, or a fair statement or deduction an individual can make from their experience with your business, then it’s harder to define a review as defamatory.

Filing a Defamation Lawsuit for an Online Review

If you’ve reviewed all the above and still believe you are being defamed, a lawsuit may be your best option to defend your business. This legal action allows you to defend your reputation, remove the defamatory content, and recover the damages against you.

Your first step should always be to consult with an attorney. This allows an experienced legal professional to review your case (no pun intended), confirm the comments are defamatory, issue a cease and desist letter as a precursor to further legal action, and file a lawsuit on your behalf.

Defend Your Reputation with The Law Office of Ray Garcia

Florida businesses have the right to shield themselves from defamatory remarks. No matter the platform, the team at The Law Office of Ray Garcia is ready to defend your reputation and help you recover any damages you may have suffered. If you’re false and damaging online reviews are hurting your Florida business, contact The Law Office of Ray Garcia, and let us defend your good name.

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Law Office of Ray Garcia, P.A.

Our mission is to provide our clients with legal services that not only meet their needs but exceed their expectations. We approach all practice areas with care, knowledge, experience, and determination. Trusted In South Florida For Decades.

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