Can You Sue Someone for Giving You Herpes or Other STDs?
Sex always comes with the risk of contracting diseases, even in monogamous relationships. The CDC reports that herpes is a commonly transmitted disease that can pass between people even when they use a condom and when there are no visible breakouts. This is why voluntary disclosure or an honest response to a direct question regarding STD status is so important. Unfortunately, many people are embarrassed by their STD status. There are also many malicious parties who deliberately pass the disease on to others. If you contracted herpes, or another STI from someone, learn about your options if you want to sue them for giving it to you.
What Is an STD?
As the name implies, a sexually transmitted disease is one passed on exclusively or primarily through sexual relations. Many people believe STD is synonymous with sexually transmitted infections, but this is not the case. While all STIs can lead to STDs, not all STDs begin with infections. Even so, you will often come across the term STI used in place of STD. Doctors and public health officials hope a relatively new term will carry fewer negative connotations, compared to “venereal disease” and STDs.
Despite the advances in medicine, some STIs are incurable, and herpes is one such example. Subsequently, infected persons will need to make lifestyle changes and take on medical expenses to tackle the disease for the rest of their lives. Next to HIV/AIDS, herpes is one of the most common STIs that lead to personal injury claims. Therefore, it is not uncommon to wonder if you can sue someone for giving you herpes.
What Are the Two Types of Herpes?
Health care professionals categorize herpes cases as the Herpes Simplex Virus 1 or the Herpes Simplex Virus 2. As much as 80% of the population might have HSV-1. People commonly become infected as children after coming into contact through play and sharing items. This generally results in cold sores, also known as oral herpes. Unfortunately, HSV-1 can also become genital herpes due to oral sex. In spite of this, this type of genital herpes is far less common and affects roughly one out of every six persons.
HSV-2 is more serious than HSV-1 and predominantly exists as genital herpes. It can be transmitted from mothers to children during childbirth and can migrate to other parts of the body.
What Can I Do If I Suspect Someone Gave Me Herpes?
If you suspect someone for knowingly giving you herpes or that it happened because of their gross negligence, you might be eligible to sue them for personal injury damages. The exact provisions and how serious the penalties depend on the state. It is important to act swiftly before the person infects someone else or that parties you may have unknowingly infected can seek treatment.
1. Seek Medical Care
Nothing is more valuable than your health, so see to this before doing anything else. Only your doctor can determine if you have an STI, which one it is, how far it has progressed and what your potential treatment options are. Note that it might take anywhere from one to three days to get back your results. The exact time depends on the type of test you choose and how backed up the labs are.
2. Determine Applicable State
Determine which state holds jurisdiction over your case. This can affect your situation in a number of ways. For instance, in some states, courts might assign some liability to the plaintiff. This could result in you being held partially accountable for the incident. It could cost you half your compensation, if not more. California often does this with personal injury cases.
The state the incident occurred in might have jurisdiction over the case, but only an attorney can confirm what your options are. Your attorney might even advise you to press charges if you are within your statute of limitations for state laws addressing the intentional transmission of STIs. Provisions for this might vary. For instance, California treats some of these cases as felonies.
3. Determine Liability
You and your attorney might need to do some digging to get the information you need to determine liability. This is because most cases of this type hinge on proof that the person was aware of his or her STD status. However, HIPAA regulations will make this difficult to confirm and the person might not admit to it.
These are the things you and your attorney might need to prove:
- This person knew of his or her STI/STD status.
- The person had a moral obligation to inform you of his or her status and to take precautions to prevent transmission.
- The person breached this duty.
- The fact that you contracted the STI results from this breach of duty.
Note that even if the person who transmitted an infection used a condom, the court might still hold him or her negligent. It also usually not necessary to prove that the person intentionally passed on the STI. Finally, if the sex was not consensual, you can pursue legal recourse for sexual battery or rape.
4. Pursue Charges and Claims
If your partner or ex deliberately passed the disease on to you, you might be able to pursue criminal charges, even if it was consensual. Note that criminal charges will not provide you with personal injury compensation. For that, you still need to file a civil case.
Do I Need To Work With an Experienced Local Lawyer?
If you decide to pursue criminal charges against the person who infected you, an attorney is crucial. You will most likely need to testify in court. Your attorney can prepare you for the tactics the defendant might use to try to prove his or her supposed innocence.
If you successfully gain a criminal conviction, it might become even easier for you to pursue civil damages. Because of this, some attorneys might encourage you to wait if the state’s statute of limitations provides enough time.
Even if you choose only to file a civil suit, note that these cases are incredibly difficult to prove. This is due to HIPAA restrictions and other privacy issues. Only an attorney can advise you on how best to safely navigate these obstacles.
Finding an attorney with the necessary skills can be difficult, especially if you pursue both criminal and civil cases. We can help match you to the right one in your local area. Submit a request online or call us today at 866-345-6784 to get in touch with an attorney in your area!