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Can You Sue Someone for Giving You an STD?

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

When you find out that you've contracted a sexually transmitted disease (STD), your first thought may be how to get justice on the person you believe is responsible. In many cases, the person who infected you may be as clueless as you were about having an STD.

However, based on your state's laws and what your partner may have known, you may be able to sue him or her over an STD infection.

Negligence and STDs

Regardless of your state, you may be able to sue the person who infected you with an STD for negligence. For a STD infection negligence case, you would need to prove that your partner had a duty to inform you or a duty to prevent transmission of his or her STD, and that this duty was breached by your former partner.

In these negligence cases, a judge or jury must be convinced that a reasonable person would have abstained from sex without first informing his or her partner of the risk of STD infection. Negligence does not require intent, so your partner can still be found responsible for your STD-related damages even if a condom was used.

Sexual Battery

Another strategy involves suing your partner for sexual battery, arguing that not disclosing his or her STD status was tantamount to unconsented sex. For example, if your partner knew he was infected with herpes and failed to tell you, your consent for that sexual encounter may be effectively wiped out.

As with negligence claims, your partner need not have wanted to infect you with his or her STD. The law only requires that he or she intended to have sex with you without disclosing his or her dangerous STD status.

Wrongful Transmission of STD

Many states have also recognized wrongful infection or transmission of an STD as its own cause of action, making it slightly easier for infected plaintiffs to sue. It may be even easier to prove liability in states which criminalize sex without disclosing STD status -- this is especially relevant for those with HIV.

Even in cases where a person is found by the law to be at fault, it is important to remember that you must be able to prove damages from your STD infection. Lawsuits over easily treatable STDs such as gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, etc., may not amount to more than the cost of a one-dose antibiotic treatment.

Getting an STD from your partner may be infuriating, but the law does not leave you powerless to get justice -- just contact a local attorney for help.

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