Defining Defamation in Washington State
To win a defamation lawsuit in Washington State, plaintiffs must prove (at the very least) that their respective defendants:
- Made a false and unprivileged statement of fact about the claimant;
- Caused harm to befall the plaintiff, through statements; and
- Acted with “reckless disregard for the truth” by making the statements.
There are two types of defamation — libel and slander. Libel is written defamation; slander is spoken defamation.
Washington State’s defamation statute of limitations is two years.
Defamation Per Se Civil Suits are Permissible in Washington State
As with many states, per se defamation lawsuits are possible in Washington. In these cases, the offending statement is considered automatically to have caused damages (i.e., calling someone a criminal), lifting the plaintiff’s burden of proof. The exact statements that can be considered defamation per se in Washington state vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.