Current defamation law is the result of old common-law rules and more recent statutory provisions and First Amendment protections. The elements, or requirements, for a defamation claim depend on variables such as whether the parties are private persons or public entities, members of the press, whether the statement was written or oral, or whether the statement relates to something the public would have a need or a right to know.
Generally, in a defamation case we would look for a defendant who made a defamatory and false statement of fact about the plaintiff that caused the plaintiff a pecuniary injury. In other words, defamation typically occurred if 1) a person made a statement of fact, 2) about the plaintiff, that 3) was defamatory, and 4) false, and 5) caused the plaintiff injury. Regarding the false statement, it can be necessary to consider whether the defendant knew the statement was false or should have known the statement was false. In some instances, it might not matter whether the defendant knew or should have known the statement was false. Injury may also be presumed depending on the circumstances.
There is much more to consider: every defamation lawsuit is different. If you think you may be a victim of defamation, this can be a starting point. It is important to act quickly, however. In Texas, any lawsuit for defamation must be made within one year of the offense. If a victim waits too long, he or she will be barred, or prevented, from ever bringing the lawsuit. The good news for the potential plaintiff is that, according to current case law, each time a defamatory statement is brought to the attention of a third person, a new publication has occurred, and each publication becomes a separate action. Renfro Drug Co. v. Lawson, 160 S.W.2d 246, 251 (Tex.1942). This means, even if the original defamatory statement was made more than a year ago, while it's too late to sue for that publication, any republication of that statement is a new offense that can be grounds for a defamation lawsuit.