Sexually Transmitted Disease


Wrongful transmission of sexually transmitted disease (STD)—especially HIV or herpes—can give rise to liability. Pursuing an STD claim can be awkward, and legally challenging. Whether a claim for wrongful transmission sexually transmitted disease will be successful depends on many factors.

Duty to Disclose STD

In Washington there is a statute that makes it illegal for any person who knows they have a sexually transmitted disease to have intercourse with any other person without informing the other person of the sexually transmitted disease. If someone violates the STD statute you are entitled to damages, including attorney fees.

There are medical regulations in Washington requiring medical providers to “provide adequate and understandable instruction in disease control measures” to the patient and “to contacts who may have been exposed to” certain diseases, including certain sexually transmitted diseases.

Most jurisdictions that have considered the issue have found a duty for someone who knows or should know that they have an acquired an STD to report this to sex partners. Washington would likely follow this trend in the law, particularly in light of the statute requiring reporting sexually transmitted disease to sexual partners.

Statute of Limitations

If you think you may have been exposed to a sexually transmitted disease you should have yourself medically checked immediately. Some STDs can linger in the body for very long periods. With some diseases—syphilis, for example—serious irreparable harm may result from delayed diagnosis.

Furthermore, the longer you wait to pursue a legal claim the greater the risk you may miss the statute of limitations. Although in some circumstances you may argue in court about exactly when the statute period started, and therefore exactly when it ends, if a court rules that the statute of limitations has run then any claim you may have had for wrongful transmission of sexually transmitted disease is lost forever—no matter how serious the harm; no matter how wrongful the conduct.

If you have acquired a sexually transmitted disease from someone who failed to disclose this to you, then you may be entitled to damages. You should seek a free case evaluation without delay.