How to File a Lawsuit for Libel

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Libel is a form of written defamation of character. A libelous comment is one that involves a false statement of fact about another person, that was conveyed to a third party and resulted in harm to another person's reputation or livelihood. Here are some tips to help you file a lawsuit for libel.

Research the law. Generally, to prove the elements of a libel claim, you must be able to show that someone printed a false and unprivileged statement about you, that this statement was published or conveyed to other people and that this statement resulted in damage to your reputation or caused you mental anguish.

Hire an attorney. Libel can be tricky to prove because the alleged libelous statements generally have to rise to a level that would offend a reasonable person and subject you to contempt or ridicule. Accordingly, to file a libel lawsuit in court, you would be best served by hiring an experienced libel attorney to assist you with the process.

File a complaint in state court. The first step in filing a lawsuit for libel is to lodge a complaint in court. In your complaint, you must name the defendant who made the libelous remark, explain the facts supporting your claim and describe the damages you have suffered as a result of the libel. Your attorney can advise you on how to file and serve the complaint in compliance with the court rules in your jurisdiction.

Go to court. Appear in court with your attorney on the date and time provided for your trial. You should gather all evidence that supports your claim and have any and all witnesses ready and available to testify on your behalf. The court will then listen to your case, listen to the defense and issue a ruling.


  • Truth is generally considered to be an absolute defense to a libel lawsuit.
  • File your libel lawsuit in a timely manner. You don't want to risk abandoning your lawsuit as a result of running afoul of your state's statute of limitations.


  • Remember that the laws regarding the elements of a libel lawsuit can vary from state to state.