Elements of Defamation in WA STATE

Defining Defamation in Washington State

To win a defamation lawsuit in Washington State, plaintiffs must prove (at the very least) that their respective defendants:

  1. Made a false and unprivileged statement of fact about the claimant;
  2. Caused harm to befall the plaintiff, through statements; and
  3. 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.

Elements of Defamation in CA

To establish a defamation claim in California, you must prove four facts:

  1. That someone made a false statement of purported “fact” about you:
  2. That the statement was made (“published”) to a third party;
  3. That the person who made the statement did so negligently, recklessly or intentionally; and,
  4. That as a result of the statement, your reputation was damaged.

California law recognizes two types of defamationlibel and slander. The main difference is whether a defamatory statement was made verbally (constituting slander) or in writing (constituting libel).