The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that every year approximately 20 million new cases of sexually transmitted disease (STDs) are reported. STDs cost millions of dollars in health care and treatment and affect the lives of those who are infected. Being diagnosed with an STD can be embarrassing, dangerous to one's health and limit future relationships.
For many people, the fact that they are diagnosed with an STD comes as a surprise. Their partner said that he or she was disease-free. When a person who is infected with an STD fails to take proper measures to prevent STD transmission, and another person becomes infected, can the latter party sue the former?
Negligence in STD Cases
A sexual partner has a duty to another partner, at least to the extent that each party holds the belief that their sexual partner will not cause them harm, and that they will truthfully represent whether they are infected with a sexually transmitted disease. A failure to disclose a sexually transmitted disease may be described as a breach of this duty and acting negligently.
Negligence is the foundation of nearly all personal injury lawsuits and alleges that the defendant failed to exercise a reasonable level of care. In regards to sexually transmitted diseases, a person who knew that he or she had an STD and failed to warn their partner, or failed to take action to prevent the disease from being spread, may be held liable if their partner becomes infected.
In the event that the sexual contact was not consensual, or the spread of the STD was intentional, the victim may have a claim against the defendant for battery.
Keep in mind that if the person to whom the STD was transmitted knew of their partner's infection, and made the decision to have unprotected sex regardless, he or she may be considered equally negligent and therefore have a limited basis on which to pursue a civil claim.
Negligence Per Se
Negligence simply refers to a breach of the duty of care that a reasonable person in the same circumstance would exercise. Negligence per se, on the other hand, refers to a violation of a law that is meant to protect the public. Because of California Health and Safety Code, Sections 12029-120291, prohibit a person who is infected with any contagious disease from willfully exposing another person to the disease, a lawsuit may also be pursued against a defendant based on negligence per se.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you have been infected with an STD because your partner failed to disclose their STD status and failed to take preventative measures to protect you, you may have a civil suit. Contact the experienced Santa Barbara personal injury attorneys at Andrade Law Offices for a free case consultation today. You can call us directly or fill out our online form to get started. We will review your case to discover whether or not you may have a viable suit.