Defamation Per Se And Per Quod — How They Affect Your Case

Have you as a business owner been defamed through written or oral statements? While defamation cases aren't as well known as other types of personal injury that often involve physical harm, they are just as important. But they can be harder to win at the same time. 

To succeed in your efforts to get compensation from defamation, you must first understand some of its subtle, but vital, nuances. For example, do you have a case for defamation per se or per quod? Here's what you need to know about both. 

What Is Defamation Per Se?

Defamation includes two subcategories: libel and slander. Libel is written defamation while slander is oral defamation. Both these types of defamation also fall into one of two categories. Defamation per se is the most common and the easier case to win. What is it?

To be defamed per se involves an obviously damaging statement. For example, if a caterer's competitor tells their clients that the caterer's food gave someone food poisoning when it actually did not happen, they have defamed the caterer outrightly—or per se. 

Per se defamation is presumed to cause obvious financial and reputational damage, so it's an easier hurdle to clear. It often includes things like statements that a person committed a crime, has a communicable disease, acted sexually in an improper manner, or did things harmful to their business reputation. 

What is Defamation Per Quod?

Defamation per quod is a more challenging situation for plaintiffs. It involves statements that aren't quite so clearly damaging—and for which a more complex argument must be made. 

Perhaps, for instance, the caterer's competition tells others that the caterer is a bad parent. This defamation doesn't clearly fall into the category of per se defamation, nor does it directly impugn their business skills. But it is done maliciously to steer clients away from the caterer. 

It's easy to see how defamation per quod is harder to identify and prove. And because it's less obvious, you must also make the connection between the defamatory statement and actual financial losses. The caterer would need to prove that they did indeed lose clients and business due to the implication that they're a bad parent. 

Where Should You Start?

If you feel you were defamed, it's important to know which type of defamation you must prove. And if it's the more difficult defamation per quod, you may need to take a different approach to the case. The best place to begin is by consulting with a business litigation attorney in your state today.