Can You Sue Someone for Passing Along an STD?
Coming down with a sexually transmitted disease (STD) is one of the biggest blows a person can receive. Can you really sue someone for passing along an STD?
Many people may ask this question after they are unknowingly infected with an STD (HIV, gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Herpes, Syphilis, etc..) by their partners.
The answer is “YES”. Civil laws pertaining to the intentional exposure of an unknowing individual to sexually transmitted diseases and infections by a knowing partner allow for damage claims against defendants.
These rights pertain to both consensual and non-consensual sexual encounters. Additionally, civil legal rights held by victims are further bolstered by criminal laws, which depending on the jurisdiction; make it a crime to knowingly expose a consenting sexual partner to an STD without their consent or knowledge.
How To Protect Yourself From Lawsuits Brought By Dating Others
Don’t take any chances when dating someone without telling them about your condition. You should be aware of the possibility of an STD transmission lawsuit. If you happen to be dating someone who doesn’t have an STD on a non-STD dating site, you should tell your partner beforehand, or you might be involved in a legal dispute! Check out tips on online dating safety.
Legal Considerations in an STD Lawsuit
While the non-legal considerations in an STD case vary by individual, there are certain legal factors a person must bear in mind when considering an STD lawsuit. While this explanation is in not intended to be a substitute for legal advice, these are a few factors typically involved in an STD case:
Burden of Proof
To be successful in an STD lawsuit, the plaintiff (that is, the person unknowingly infected with a serious STD) must prove that the defendant (that is, the alleged “infector”) knew or should have known that they were infected with an STD. They must also prove that the plaintiff was unaware of the defendant’s STD at the time of the sexual encounter. Third, the plaintiff must show that they were infected by the defendant and no one else. A qualified attorney can examine your case to determine if your best options.
Type of STD Infections
A person who has been infected with a curable STD may not have viable grounds for a legal claim. However, because diseases like Herpes and HIV are incurable and cause significant damages, people negligently or willfully infected with one of these diseases may have the right to seek legal compensation. To learn more about STD cases, it is important to speak with a qualified attorney who can determine your rights and options.
Legal damages for Monetary Compensation
In a civil case, an injured person may seek monetary compensation for all past and future losses associated with the injury.
In cases of serious STDs, the victim may seek compensation for life-long medical treatment, all medication costs associated with treatment and care, expenses related to high risk pregnancy management (expecting mothers with herpes must typically have a cesarean section in order to avoid passing the disease to her child), pain and suffering, emotional damages, and possibly even punitive damages.
Statute of Limitations Civil Suits
In all civil suits, legal action must be taken within a specific period of time. In general, this time period begins when the person learns of their injury (the time of “discovery”– in this case, when the person learns they have acquired an STD. In an STD case, however, the statute of limitations may begin at different times.
For instance, it is up to the court to decide whether the statute begins at the time the STD was transmitted, the time the person first developed symptoms of the STD, or the time the person is diagnosed with the disease. In order to learn more about the statute of limitations, it is important to speak with a qualified attorney as soon as possible. If you wait too long, you may forfeit your legal rights to seek compensation for your losses and suffering.
Court Ordered Settlement or Trial
Obtaining Compensation: There are generally two ways a person can be awarded damages in an STD case: through a settlement whereby the defendant agrees to pay damages or through a lawsuit whereby the court orders the defendant to pay damages. A large majority of personal injury cases (under which STD lawsuits fall), are settled out of court. To learn more about settlements and trials, it is important to speak with a qualified attorney about your specific case.