Fake Online Reviews and Small Business in Colorado - Part III - What Is Required To File
As covered in part one, defamation attacks can be very disruptive to small business and the attackers should be held accountable for their actions. Intentionally attempting to cause repetitional and economic harm to a small business is not protected under the First Amendment right to free speech. In Part II, we covered who can be sued and for what.What Is Required to File a Lawsuit?
You can sue a reviewer if their review is defamatory or attempts to extort you, even if you don’t know who they are. You cannot sue the online platform. You will need to gather and preserve evidence of the review and this can be time consuming and require an understanding of how the online review platforms work.
Take a screenshot of the unlawful review to include the date that it was posted and the URL Also screenshot any interactions with the review, such as “likes” and comments, as they can assist in establishing negative impact on business. Keep records of business losses, such as a decrease in customers and commensurate reduction in profits. Evidence of damage to the business is required for some types of defamation to recover.Statute of Limitations and Filing
The statute of limitations, i.e. the time wherein a lawsuit must be brought, is very short for defamation; one year. If you want to bring a lawsuit, you have to act quickly. Knowing where to file can require the assistance of an attorney. This is referred to as “venue” and there are rules of civil procedure that govern where lawsuits can be filed.
In general, the elements of a defamation claim are:
- That someone published a false statement concerning you or your business;
- Communicated to a third party;
- That caused reputational, physical or economic harm.
A reasonable person would have to understand that the statement is about you or the business. This is clearly established when the post is on a business review website. The poster has to be negligent. For example, it is negligent for a poster to post a customer review on a business website where he or she has never been a client or customer. Damages to a business generally include lost profit, future lost profit and mitigation damages (the cost to address the postings, whether by time spent contesting reviews or legal fees.)Turning Change Into Opportunity in Colorado
You will want an experienced attorney on your side for your one bite at the court apple. An experienced attorney can guide you through defamation matters by negotiating, mediating and litigating. This allows you to focus on moving forward to a better future rather than on spending your time trying to figure out the overly complex court system. Colorado Springs defamation matters are difficult to navigate alone.
Defamation actions are complex and can be difficult to prove. They are costly. Our focus is on small business and our rates are lower commensurately. Janko Family Law helps ensure that your best interests are protected and that you are aware of your legal rights and obligations. Contact us at 719-344-5523 or complete our online form to set up a free thirty-minute informational consultation.