Kentucky Defamation: Laws and Standards

Kentucky defamation law
Kentucky Defamation Law

Defining Defamation in Kentucky

Kentucky defines defamation as causing harm to the reputation of a person or business, by communicating to a third party, via words that are false and meant to humiliate, degrade, or incite contempt or hatred.

Statute of Limitations

The aggrieved party must prove a defamatory statement was made within one year of when the statement was made, why the statement(s) are untrue.

Public Figures and Private Figures Treated Differently Under Kentucky Defamation Law

Kentucky views public figures as people who are generally recognized, either by their status as a celebrity or public office. Seeking elected office, holding a position of public trust, or possessing name recognition a reasonable person can identify, all fall within the definition of a public figure.

Under Kentucky state law, to bring a defamation of character lawsuit, public figures must prove actual malice existed on the part of the offending party. Private figures, on the other hand, only need to prove that the defendant acted with negligence or reckless disregard for the truth.

Defamation Defenses in Kentucky

Kentucky law allows for truth, opinion, and general reporting as valid defenses in slander and libel cases. If the truth defense is employed by the defendant, it’s incumbent upon the plaintiff to prove the statement was made by the defendant.

Kentucky is Per Se State

Defamation per se constitutes a statement that inherently defamatory. Accusing someone of:

  1. Having a repulsive disease,
  2. Criminality,
  3. Incest, or
  4. Promiscuity and uninvited seduction

is defamatory per se.

In cases such as these, the plaintiff can sue for damages without having to prove actual damages because the defamatory statements are, by themselves, defamatory.

Opportunity to Retract – Conspicuous and Timely

News agencies can mitigate defamation damages if they correct or retract the contested statement. Potential plaintiffs have 10 days to demand a “good faith” correction or retraction. According to the Kentucky statute, any retraction made in a timely manner and be conspicuous.

Damages Awarded for Defamation in Kentucky

Defamation of character damages in Kentucky include:

  • Punitive Damages
  • Compensatory Damages
  • Actual Damages

As was mentioned previously, media outlets have the ability to mitigate damages paid to the plaintiff by retracting their alleged defamatory statement.


Thanks to our nationwide network of attorneys, Kelly / Warner handles Kentucky defamation cases. Contact us.
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