Many businesses have pages on websites such as Yelp or Facebook where customer reviews can be left detailing their experience with the business.
These reviews can inform about the positive and negative points of the business, and ultimately drive traffic either toward the business if the reviews are positive, or away if the reviews are negative.
First off, it is important to mention that not all negative reviews are defamatory.
In order for a statement to be defamatory, it must be false. If the negative review is an honest account of an experience, then it is not defamatory.
However, it is not uncommon for people to post false reviews for a variety of reasons, including that the company they are reviewing is a competitor, or they have a personal grudge against the business owner. In these cases, such reviews are defamatory and can be dealt with in a variety of ways:
- Contact the website about the removal of the review. Many reviews hosting websites have a process for reporting false or defamatory reviews. Websites don’t always remove reviews reported in this way, so you may have to explore alternate options.
- Offer a response to the negative review. If an individual leaves a negative review, even if you do not believe it to be truthful, offer a professional response to address the alleged grievance. It is possible that you may be able to resolve the issue through reasonable communication, however, if the other party is resistant to a peaceful resolution, further action made needs to be taken. Do not continue to engage with the poster if they are not being reasonable.
- Send a demand letter. At this point, it may be time to get an attorney involved. If the issue cannot be resolved and the website will not remove the review, you should hire an attorney to send a demand letter to the poster demanding that the defamatory review be taken down. Many people, when faced with the threat of actual legal action, will be more inclined to comply.
- File a lawsuit. If all else fails, it’s time to proceed forward with a lawsuit for defamation. You will have the greatest chance of success if you hire a defamation attorney for this process, as they have the expertise to assist in such matters. A lawsuit may take time, but it may be necessary to prevent the injustice of a malicious lie from spreading and harming your business further.
Can a Defamation Attorney Help?
If you have been the victim of defamation, it is essential to consult with an experienced Colorado defamation attorney who can help you protect your rights.