10 STD Law FAQ’s

Bizarre, NakedLaw, Relationships, Rights

1) If a doctor fails to diagnose your sexually transmitted disease (STD), can you sue?

Maybe, but in Colorado, according to Colorado lawyer Jacob Eisenstein, there are at least two problems you’d have to overcome:

– It’s not enough that the doctor failed to diagnose the STD. You’d have to prove that the doctor’s diagnosis (or lack of diagnosis) fell below the accepted standard of care.  In other words, doctors aren’t necessarily liable just because they fail to diagnose something.  You have to prove that another doctor, following the standard of care, would have found it.  If there is something particularly difficult about diagnosing the STD, your doctor could be off the hook.

– You’d have to prove your damages. Merely being angry or having a few inexpensive medical bills probably doesn’t warrant filing a lawsuit. The problem is that medical malpractice lawsuits are extremely expensive, particularly because you’ll have to hire experts–usually other doctors who charge very high rates for their time–to argue that your doctor’s misdiagnosis fell below the standard of care. Unless you’ve got serious damages from, for example, lost wages, severe emotional trauma, etc., it may not make sense to bring a lawsuit.

2) If a medical provider tells you that you are HIV positive, but then 20 minutes later says it was a mistake, can you sue?

California attorney David Garner says that having 20 minutes of anxiety over a false test result is probably not enough for a lawsuit.  Mistakes happen all the time, and being stressed out or upset for 20 minutes is probably not enough to sue over.

3) Can you sue someone who knowingly transmits genital warts to you?

Yes, in New York.  As attorney Michael  Joseph explains, even if your damages aren’t high, the emotional trauma and humiliation entitles you to compensation.  The law says that a person  has a duty to warn about an STD because it assumes you wouldn’t have sex if you knew about it (which may or may not be true).  So a person not warning you and transmitting an STD is guilty of battery.

In Massachusetts, attorney Joseph Chancellor says that a person might also be sued for intentional infliction of emotional distress if the person knowingly lies about not having an STD.

But remember: even if you sue and win, the person you’re suing has to have money to pay you; if they don’t, you’re out of luck unless there’s a homeowner’s insurance policy you can tap.  Also keep in mind that lawsuits are public record, so if you sue, your STD will be part of that record as well.

In Tennesee, attorney Joseph DeGaetano says you can sue if someone gives you an STD, but you’ll have to pass a three-part test:
1)    You could not have known, or have had reason to know, that the person had an STD.
2)    The person who gave you the STD knew, or should have known, they had an STD.
3)    You have to prove you didn’t get the STD from somewhere else, which means you’ll be discussing your entire sexual history in court.

4) If your spouse cheats on you and gives you an STD, is that a crime?

It could be in Texas.  Attorney Edgardo Baez explains that in Texas there are two different forms of assault, one of which, called “offensive contact” doesn’t require injury.  Transmitting an STD to you could be considered offensive contact and therefore assault, even if you weren’t injured.

In California, attorney Erik Swanson points out that CA law says “any person afflicted with any contagious, infectious, or communicable disease who willfully exposes him/herself to another person is guilty of a misdemeanor.”

5) If someone gives you an STD, and then you warn other people about the person with the STD, can they sue you for slander?

No in California.  Attorney Jonathan Levy says that if you warn other people of the person’s STD, and it’s true, then there is no slander.

6) Can a doctor’s office tells someone about your STD without your permission?

No.  Attorneys Shawn Alexander and Steven Weisbrot think this is likely a violation of HIPPA law, which has rules about doctor-patient confidentiality.

7) Can a US citizen marry a foreign citizen with HIV and bring him/her to the US?

Attorney Michael Hendrickson says that, because of advances in HIV treatment, HIV may no longer bar a person from immigrating to the US.

8) If a permanent resident in the US contracts HIV can they lose their immigration status because of it?

Attorney Craig Kennedy says that having HIV is technically a cause for excluding an alien from entering the US, but it’s “highly questionable” that this is a condition that would cause a permanent resident to be removed.

9) Is it a crime to knowingly spread HIV?

Colorado lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal says that in most states, knowingly spreading HIV is a felony crime.

10) Is it criminal to be a woman with HIV and knowingly have children when they will possibly contract the virus?

Several attorneys in different states say that an HIV positive woman having babies is not a crime.

Related articles: