Personal injury laws allow you to seek compensation if someone damages your reputation. You can either file a defamation or false light lawsuit with the help of a lawyer such as James Lee Katz. Here are the major differences between the two; use them to decide which course of action to take if someone harms your reputation:


The audience is the number of people who read or heard the offensive statement that your defendant made. A large audience is needed for a false light accusation, but the size of the audience doesn't matter for a defamation lawsuit.

Therefore, if your boss goes on television to make damaging accusations against you, then you can sue him or her both for defamation and false light representation. This is because he or she had a large audience (everybody who was watching the television channel at the time). However, if he or she makes the same remarks to your immediate supervision, then you can only accuse him or her of defamation.

Nature of Harm

The other thing to consider is how the offensive statement harmed you. Did it embarrass or hurt your feelings? If your answer is in the affirmative, then you proceed with the accusation of false light because it is meant to protect you from emotional injury. However, defamation accusations only hold if the offending statements have damaged your reputation.

Consider a case in which your boss lies that you use adult diapers because of some illness. This information does not harm your reputation, but it can embarrass you, so a charge of false light will suffice.

Truth as a Defense

Lastly, you should also consider whether the statements your defendant made were factually true or not. If they were true, then you cannot succeed with a defamation lawsuit because truth is an absolute defense for defamation. However, just because the information is true doesn't mean that you cannot accuse him or her of portraying you in false light.

This is because in a false light case, the court will not just consider whether the information is true or not. It will look beyond this to ascertain the intention of the defendant and how the audience interpreted the message.

Consider an example in which your boss claims that you have been convicted of handling stolen goods. Suppose that this is true, but he or she fails to add that the conviction was later overturned because it turned out that witnesses had given false testimonies, and you were innocent. In this case, you can still succeed with a false light charge. This is because, despite making a factual statement, your boss is portraying you as a thief while, in real sense, you aren't one.