Herpes or genital herpes is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that sexually active individuals can get. It is typically passed from an infected person to another person through anal, oral, and/or vaginal sexual intercourses. But there are greater chances of getting such disease when persons have multiple partners or have sex without any kind of protection. If you were able to contract such disease, then can you sue someone for giving you herpes?
The answer is yes. Although laws related to this case vary from one state to another, most states in the US have laws regarding the transmission of STDs, disclosure of health status, as well as the way confidential medical information is being handled.
If for instance, you know that you have herpes or any type of STD, then you have a legal obligation to inform your sex partner about your case before engaging in a sexual intercourse. If you were not able to disclose such information, and your partner was able to contract the disease, then you can be held civilly liable or responsible for that.
Take the California STD Law as an example. The overview of this law has stated that if a person is aware of infecting the partner with herpes or has the knowledge of having such STD and has failed to disclose it to his or her partner “can be civilly liable for damages”. Thus, suing for knowingly spreading herpes is highly possible.
According to attorney and legal analyst Anahita Sedaghatfar, in some states, laws regarding this matter go even further than just informing the sex partner. It says that even if the person was not able to get herpes, the fact that the infected individual exposes such disease to other people is enough basis for getting sued. It is, apparently, another ground in suing for knowingly spreading herpes.
However, persons with herpes don’t usually show visible symptoms. If there were symptoms, then they would be mild or unnoticeable, and can be mistaken as an ordinary skin condition, like an ingrown hair or a pimple. Outbreaks like painful blisters around the mouth, genitals, or rectum are also present and are usually gone after two weeks. In some cases, herpes can be transmitted even without having sex. It can be passed on through skin-to-skin contact.
But the main point is that most persons infected with herpes are not aware that they have it, which leads to the question: can you sue someone for giving you herpes even if that infected person does not know he or she has it?
In this case, the answer is yes. In some states, you can still file a lawsuit against a person whom you allegedly say as the person who gave you the disease. But considering that he or she is unaware of such circumstance, how can you attest that “that particular individual” gave you herpes?
Sedaghatfar further said that the plaintiff should prove with evidence that he or she contracted the disease from that particular defendant and not from anybody else. This is where medical records are presented. There is also a deposition or a formal statement that someone, who has promised to tell the truth, will do it so that the sworn statement can be used in the court.
If suing for knowingly spreading herpes is done, then what are the damages the plaintiff can expect? It actually depends on a case-by-case basis. Victims “negligent or intentional transmission of an STD” who are able to prove that they have contracted the disease from the defendant can seek damages for causing emotional distress and pain, as well as for covering the medication and other types of expenses incurred during the whole process.