Sexually transmitted diseases intersect with the law in two different types of scenarios: in the first scenario, you can be liable for failing to keep someone’s private health issues a secret; in the second, you can be liable for transmitting a disease unbeknownst to your partner. Both can result in severe lawsuits, so if you are in a position to be at risk for either, it is important to know what is advisable.
Liability for Spreading STDs
If you have an STD that is contagious, either by nature or because you have not taken the proper medication to keep it from being contagious, you could be liable for giving it to your partner under the premises of battery, negligence or fraud. Additionally, you could also be sued under a more specific tort law for wrongful infection of a sexually transmitted disease.
A lawsuit based on negligence demands that the infected partner either knew or should have reasonably known about the sexually transmitted disease, but failed to notify their partner. It is likely in this event that the defendant will be found negligent. It is also possible to sue a former partner for mere exposure to a contagious sexually transmitted disease, even if the claimant didn’t actually contract the disease.
In a lawsuit based on battery, the claimant must prove that the defendant had knowledge of the disease, and by omitting word of their disease, knowingly exposed the claimant to unconsented harmful contact that the claimant would have opposed. Because it takes intent of the defendant’s actions into great consideration, this type of lawsuit is useful when the claimant seeks to prove the defendant knowingly, intentionally infected them with the disease.
In a lawsuit based on fraud, the claimant must simply prove that the defendant knew or reasonably should have known about their disease, but hid the information from their partner.
If you’re found guilty for any of the above, you may even be responsible for paying personal injury damages to compensate your partner for any expenses they incurred as result of the injury.
If You’re a Claimant
If you are interested in suing a former partner for giving you a sexually transmitted disease, keep in mind your state’s statute of limitations–typically it is 5 years, but this varies greatly depending on the issue as well as the state.
Potential claimants should also note that these lawsuits are typically reserved for incurable, or else life threatening diseases such as herpes, HIV/AIDs. Chlamydia, gonorrhea and other curable diseases will more than likely not win you enough damages to be worth the expenses of the lawsuit.