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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger II

Personal Injury Lawsuits for STD Infection - Legal Options for Tennessee Victims

Having multiple sexual partners poses a great risk of being infected with an STD (sexually transmitted disease), yet no law limits the number of sexual relations a person can have.

However, this does not mean there is no protection whatsoever offered to victims who have been infected by sexually transmitted diseases due to the negligence of someone else.

The law in Tennessee allows the affected person to sue someone for giving them an STD knowingly, or for failing to disclose their STD status before making sexual contact. Many complications can arise when filing lawsuits based on the intentional infliction of an STD.

Victims trying to recover compensation for their medical treatment, emotional distress, pain, and suffering, will likely need a good personal injury attorney, with a deep understanding of Tennessee criminal laws, to fight for them. They can also help with how to deal with a personal injury lien.

In Nashville, TN, victims can turn to Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys for help. A free consultation can be arranged.

What Is a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD)?

What Is a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD)?

A sexually transmitted disease (STD) or sexually transmitted infection (STI) is a disease that is transferred from one person to the other through sexual contact, including sexual intercourse.

Depending on the type and severity of the infection, some STDs can be treated easily, while some victims may end up carrying the disease for the rest of their lives.

The symptoms also vary greatly, from mild to very serious illness. In most cases, being infected with an STD is a major inconvenience to a person, which is why some states in the US criminalize the transfer of STDs in certain circumstances.

Many penalties can be imposed on a person who does not reveal their STD status to their sexual partner and transmits an STD to an innocent victim.

However, such a personal injury lawsuit is not always easy to win, and victims will need serious injury attorneys in Nashville by their side when they seek compensation.

Laws Regarding Transmission of an STD

Some laws allow a person to take legal action and file a lawsuit against a person who knowingly infected them with an STD.

Wrongful infection with an STD, especially a serious and life-threatening illness, such as HIV, is considered a very serious crime, with the defendant guilty of transmitting an STD facing severe consequences.

In such cases, there may be no need for the victim to prove ill intent when filing an STD lawsuit. The two things that matter are that the liable partner knew their STD status and failed to disclose it before making sexual contact.

However, there is also the issue of consent that victims of STD infections need to understand. If the person knew that they have an STD, and told the victim their STD status, and the victim consented to sexual contact, the person who has transmitted the disease may not be found guilty.

Some state's laws, on the other hand, do not allow for informed consent. This means even if the liable partner disclosed their STD status, there is still a chance of being found guilty of transmission of an STD to a sexual partner.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases That Can Result in a Civil Lawsuit

Some STD infections are considered so severe that most states have categorized them under the criminal transmission of an STD law. This includes the following common sexually transmitted diseases:

  • HIV and AIDS

The Human Immune Virus (HIV) is a very serious STD that, when left untreated will eventually lead to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). The disease has no cure, so once a person gets AIDS, they will carry it for the rest of their lives.

Left untreated, AIDS can have very serious consequences, including death, which is why a person can file a lawsuit against anyone they suspect to have infected them with AIDS because of not disclosing that they are HIV positive.

  • HBV or Chronic Hepatitis B

HBV, or chronic Hepatitis B, is a condition that targets the liver and can be very serious in some cases. The major issue surrounding HBV infections is that the disease may sometimes not have any visible symptoms, making it possible for a single person to unknowingly infect many people.

However, despite this, many states still allow a person to file a lawsuit against a sexual partner who gave them HBV, even if the liable party did not know they had the disease at the time.

  • HPV-Induced Cervical Cancer

Human papillomavirus, HPV-induced cervical cancer, is an STD that is often harmless due to the lack of serious symptoms.

However, contracting this disease can still cause significant emotional distress to the victim. There is also the cost of medical treatment to consider. These things mean that a victim can sue someone for infecting them with HPV-induced cervical cancer.

  • Genital Herpes

Genital herpes, also called the herpes simplex virus, has no known cure, meaning anyone who contracts this disease will have to face a lifetime of medical costs for the treatments needed to manage the illness. Two types of genital herpes can lead to lawsuits, and these are HSV 1 and HSV 2.

Challenges Faced When Suing a Sexual Partner for an STD Infection

Unlike other types of personal injury lawsuits, such as civil battery or injuries sustained in a car accident, lawsuits for an STD infection can present unique challenges to the plaintiff, such as:

Invasion of Privacy and Embarrassment

When a lawsuit is brought before the court, there is very little privacy that both the plaintiff and the defendant can expect.

In the interest of justice, every detail of the sexual activity between the parties involved will be analyzed, which is a major deterrent to many people who consider filing lawsuits based on an STD infection.

Burden of Proof

It is not a simple thing to prove that having unprotected sex with the defendant is what caused the STD infection, or even that at the time of sexual contact, the defendant knew they had the disease.

It often requires carefully piecing together complicated facts, and with plaintiffs who have had multiple sexual partners, this can be very difficult.

Proving Damages

When filing an STD lawsuit, the plaintiff will seek damages to cover their losses. Some of these damages, such as medical bills, are easier to prove than others, such as the emotional suffering that the victim goes through as a result of the STD infection.

It may require a very skilled attorney to prove that the mental anguish is a separate injury that also requires litigation.

Common Punishments for Intentional Transmission of an STD

STD lawsuits can result in the defendant facing several criminal charges, some of which may have very serious consequences.

Depending on the severity of the case, and the state in which it is being tried, the crime may be categorized as either a misdemeanor offense or a felony.

Any offender found guilty of intentionally transmitting an STD may face any of the following punishments:


Depending on the state laws, a person may be fined between $1,000 and $5,000.

Prison, Jail, or Probation

If the charges are classified as a misdemeanor, the defendant may face a sentence of up to one year in jail. In cases where they are charged with a felony, the sentence can be a year in prison. A probation term of up to three years will also be imposed on top of the jail or prison sentence.

Sex Offender Registration

One of the most serious consequences of being found guilty of intentional infliction of pain and suffering by infecting someone with an STD is being placed on the sex offender registration. Such a punishment will severely affect the defendant's freedom of movement, employment opportunities, or where they are allowed to live.

Legal Theories Wrongful Transmission of an STD

The following are some of the common legal theories in personal injury cases involving the transmission of an STD:

Sexual Battery

Sexual battery refers to rape or sexual contact without consent. It can be used to sue a person who knowingly infected someone with an STD.


In personal injury lawsuits for STD infection(s), fraud can be claimed if the plaintiff can prove that the defendant knew about their STD status but chose to lie about it.

Negligent Transmission of an STD

The defendant can be sued for negligence if it can be proved that they knew about their STD status, but did not take any measures to avoid the transmission of the disease to the plaintiff.

How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Assist?

How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Assist?

Taking legal action in an STD lawsuit can be a complicated thing to do. A competent lawyer can help with understanding health insurance claims on personal injury settlements and help the victim to:

  • Choose the best legal theories to apply to the lawsuit

  • Gather evidence

  • Take legal action in Tennessee courts

  • Prove liability

  • Seek maximum compensation

Victims of Intentional Sexually Transmitted Disease Have the Right to Sue

Victims who have been infected by an STD due to someone else's negligence or fraud can file a lawsuit against the liable party and seek damages.

Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys is ready to go to war to ensure that victims in Nashville, TN get the justice and compensation they deserve.


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