One potential cause of action is negligence. With this type of claim, the plaintiff must be able to prove that
- Defendant knew or should have known that he was infected with a sexually transmitted disease
- Defendant owed the plaintiff the duty to disclose this information
- Defendant infected the plaintiff with a sexually transmitted disease
- Defendant’s action caused harm to the plaintiff
The keystone of a negligence claim is that the defendant owed the plaintiff the duty to disclose him the information about STD, so that the plaintiff could make a decision about his wish or lack to be exposed to the disease. In some cases, liability for negligence lies if the defendant exposed the plaintiff to a sexually transmitted disease, even if the transmission didn’t occur. Usually, damages in this situation are based on mental anguish and emotional distress.
A battery cause of action for transmission of a sexually transmitted disease involves the defendant’s intentional, unconsented and harmful contact with the plaintiff. In an STD case, while the plaintiff may consent to sexual contact, he is not consenting to a contact accompanied by the known risk of contracting an STD. Moreover, it is not necessary that the defendant had a specific intent to transmit the STD – going forward with sexual contact with the knowledge that transmission could occur is enough. For a civil battery claim, the victim must prove that the defendant has an actual knowledge that he is infected with an STD, or is likely to have one.
In order to prove fraud, the plaintiff must establish the following:
- Defendant knew that he had a sexually transmitted disease.
- Defendant hide, concealed, or otherwise failed in his duty to disclose that knowledge with the intention to have sexual intercourse
- Plaintiff contracted the disease as a result of sexual intercourse
Accordingly, a person who knowingly and intentionally fails to disclose knowledge of his sexually transmitted disease to a sexual partner, can be held liable for any injuries sustained by the partner.
Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
A person who contracts an STD experience suffers emotional distress, including: guilt, depression, anxiety, humiliation or even self-destructive thoughts. An injured person can recover damages for such emotional distress and hold the person with STD legally liable. Frequently, a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress for transmitting an STD is brought along with another legal theory, such as negligence. This is because demonstrating the elements of emotional distress and determining damages is usually very difficult.
Liability for disclosing another person’s STD
Generally, disclosure of another persons HIV status is strictly prohibited, with narrow exceptions like court cases and medical procedures and. A violation of the statute can provide grounds for a civil lawsuit.
In civil lawsuits, the plaintiff may be entitled to the following damages, including:
- The medical costs to treat the condition and costs related to the receiving psychological counselling after being infected by an STD
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress and mental anguish
- A jury may also award punitive damages to deter similar conduct in the future.