Proving Defamation in Illinois – An Overview.

Not every negative statement about another person is considered defamatory in Illinois.  Under Illinois law, to prove a claim for defamation, a person needs evidence to show that:

  1. The defendant made a false statement about the plaintiff,
  2. The false statement was made to a third party,
  3. The defendant was at least negligent in making the false statement, and
  4. The plaintiff was damaged by the false statement.

Illinois courts apply a unique “reasonable grounds” standard of negligence in defamation cases brought by private citizens.  This standard requires that the defendant either knew the statement was false or believed it was true but “lacked reasonable grounds for that belief.”  Public figures (such as politicians and celebrities) who sue for defamation must meet a higher standard by proving that the defendant made the statement with “actual malice.”

Certain types of statements are considered defamation per se, which means that they are so egregious that they will always be considered to have damaged the plaintiff.  Examples of defamation per se include false statements that the plaintiff:

  1. Committed a crime,
  2. Is infected with a “loathsome communicable disease,”
  3. Is unable to perform, of lacks integrity in performing, his or her employment duties,
  4. Lacks ability in his profession,
  5. Has engaged in adultery or fornication.

In Illinois, a plaintiff must file a defamation lawsuit within one year after the defamatory statement was made, so it is important act quickly.

To speak with one of our experienced defamation litigation attorneys, call us at (630) 560-1123 or visit us at our website at   We are here to help. 

DISCLAIMER: This blog post is not legal advice and should not be relied on by anyone as legal advice in their particular situation.  Furthermore, while DeBlasio & Gower LLC welcomes communications via its website, please be aware that communicating any information to DeBlasio & Gower LLC or any of its attorneys through its web site or via any other method without a formal engagement with the Firm does not constitute or create an attorney-client relationship between you (or any other users, senders or recipients) and DeBlasio & Gower LLC or any of its attorneys.  For your protection, please do not send us confidential information until you have spoken with one of our lawyers and received authorization to send that information to our Firm.  Thank you.