Posted on Friday, February 10th, 2023 at 4:04 pm
Reputation describes how people consider your prestige and standing in society. A false statement harming your reputation can have far-reaching effects on you and your family. If you have sustained a personal injury because another person damaged your reputation, there are legal solutions that provide ways for you to seek compensation for your losses. One of these solutions is a defamation lawsuit.
What is defamation?
Defamation is an intentional tort referring to the act of another person making a harmful false statement about you to a third party. A tort is a civil wrong that gives you the right to seek compensation in an Illinois civil court for any losses the tortious act causes.
Historically, Illinois law distinguished defamation as slander, a verbal statement, and libel, a written statement. Illinois no longer differentiates between libel and slander and labels both forms of statements as defamation.
Illinois law recognizes two types of defamation, defamation per se and defamation per quod. Defamation per se refers to statements so extreme and inherently damaging that plaintiffs are not required to prove actual damages since the law presumes their existence.
Illinois law will consider an allegedly defamatory statement as defamation per quod if it fails to qualify as defamation per se. Defamation case plaintiffs must prove actual damages in defamation per quod cases.
Statements qualifying as defamation per se include false statements that the plaintiff:
- Committed a crime
- Has a contagious disease
- Is unable to perform or lacks integrity in performing employment duties
- Lacks ability in their profession or vocation
- Engaged in adultery or fornication
Proving defamation, libel, and slander in court
Not every false or negative statement about another person meets the definition of defamation. You must prove these elements to support a claim of defamation:
- The defendant made a false, unprivileged statement
- The defendant published, publicly disseminated, or shared the statement with a third person
- The defendant’s statement was negligent, if not intentional
- The statement caused you to suffer some loss or injury
For private individuals to succeed with a defamation claim, they must prove that the defendant made a defamatory statement negligently, if not intentionally.
Public figures must prove that the defendant made the statement with “actual malice.” This legal standard requires more than negligence. The defendant must make the wrongful statement with the knowledge it was false or with reckless disregard for its falsity.
In a defamation case, as a plaintiff, you have the burden of proof to show that the defendant’s statements were untrue. You must also prove that the defendant made a factual assertion rather than an opinion.
The distinction between fact and opinion is critical in a defamation case. Free speech considerations protect individuals when they share their opinions. Thus, for Illinois law to consider a statement defamatory, the defendant must make a factual assertion rather than an opinion.
The statute of limitations for defamation actions requires that you file your lawsuit within one year of the defendant making the defamatory statement. Repeated defamatory statements do not reset the statute of limitations for filing a defamation lawsuit. Thus, time is of the essence to utilize this solution to recover compensation for a defamation statement harming your reputation.
Compensation for libel and slander
An Illinois court may award nominal or presumed damages in defamation per se cases. It may award the former if the statement does not significantly damage your reputation. However, it will award presumed damages for actual harm to your reputation, mental anguish, and embarrassment. Your attorney must prove your losses for you to receive these damages. If necessary, you can ask a court to grant an injunction to stop the further publication of defamatory information.
Hiring a defamation, libel, and slander lawyer
An experienced defamation, libel, and slander attorney can gather, organize, and present evidence showing how the defamatory statement has caused others to view you negatively. They can show how the defamation has negatively affected your employment resulting in lost wages.
A defamatory statement published online presents unique challenges. In the digital age, an experienced attorney can isolate the defamation online and take the appropriate legal and logistical steps to stop further publication of the defamatory statement.
Wallace Miller can help if someone has damaged your reputation
If you’ve suffered damage to your reputation due to another person making defamatory statements about you, the seasoned and capable defamation attorneys at Wallace Miller can help you seek compensation. Call (312) 261-6193 or contact us online for a free consultation.