Can You Sue Someone for Giving You an STD in California?

can you sue someone for giving you an std in california

Contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD) can be a devastating experience, both physically and emotionally. If you find yourself in such a situation, you may wonder if there’s any legal recourse available to you. Can you sue someone for giving you an STD in California? The short answer is yes, you can.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the legal landscape surrounding STD transmission in the Golden State, including your rights, potential legal actions, and what to expect throughout the process.

Understanding STD Transmission and California Law

Sexually transmitted diseases, also known as sexually transmitted infections (STIs), are infections passed from one person to another through sexual contact. In California, as in many other states, individuals have a legal duty to exercise reasonable care to avoid causing harm to others. This duty extends to preventing the transmission of STDs between sexual partners.

Elements of a Successful Lawsuit

To pursue a successful lawsuit against someone for giving you an STD in California, several elements must typically be established:

  • Knowledge of STD Status: The individual who transmitted the STD must have known their STD status at the time of sexual contact.

  • Failure to Disclose: They must have failed to disclose their STD status to their sexual partner(s).

  • Intent: The individual acts with the specific intent to transmit that disease to another person.

  • Transmission of STD: The transmission of the STD must be directly linked to the sexual activity with the infected person.

  • Damages Incurred: You must have suffered damages as a result of contracting the STD, such as medical expenses, lost wages, emotional distress, or other tangible losses.

California Laws to Protect Your Rights

California has specific laws addressing the transmission of STDs. Under California Health and Safety Code Section 120290, it is a misdemeanor to willfully expose another person to a contagious, infectious, or communicable disease.

Additionally, individuals who engage in unprotected sexual activity without disclosing their STD status may be held liable under civil law for intentionally transmitting infectious diseases.

If you’ve contracted an STD due to someone else’s negligence or intentional actions, you may have several legal options available, including:

  • Civil Lawsuit: You can file a civil lawsuit against the individual who transmitted the STD, seeking compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.

  • Criminal Charges: In certain cases, particularly if the transmission was intentional or involved sexual assault, criminal charges may be pursued against the responsible party.

If you succeed in your lawsuit against the individual responsible for giving you an STD, you may be entitled to various forms of compensation, including:

  • Medical Expenses: Reimbursement for the costs of testing, treatment, and ongoing medical care related to the STD.

  • Lost Wages: Compensation for any income you lost due to your illness, including time off work for medical appointments or recovery.

  • Pain and Suffering: Damages for the physical pain, emotional distress, and mental anguish caused by the STD and its impact on your life.

  • Punitive Damages: In cases of particularly egregious conduct, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the defendant and deter similar behavior in the future.

The exact amount of compensation you may receive will depend on the specific circumstances of your case and the extent of your damages.

Defenses Against an STD Lawsuit

Defendants in STD lawsuits may attempt to defend themselves by claiming:

  • Lack of Knowledge: They were unaware of their STD status at the time of sexual contact.

  • Consent: The sexual partner(s) consented to the sexual activity with knowledge of the potential risks.

  • No Causation: There is insufficient evidence to prove that the defendant’s actions directly resulted in the transmission of the STD.

Navigating the complexities of STD lawsuits in California can be challenging. If you’ve contracted an STD and believe that someone else is responsible, here are some steps you can take to pursue legal action in California:

  • Seek Medical Attention: The first priority after discovering you’ve contracted an STD is to seek medical attention. Not only is this essential for your health, but medical bills and records documenting your diagnosis and treatment will be crucial evidence in any legal proceedings.

  • Gather Evidence: Collect any evidence that supports your case, such as communication with the individual regarding their STD status, medical records, and witness statements. This evidence will help establish the necessary elements for a successful lawsuit.

  • Consult with an Attorney: Schedule a consultation with an experienced STD litigation attorney. They can evaluate the details of your case, explain your legal rights, and advise you on the best course of action.

  • File a Civil Lawsuit: If pursuing compensation through a civil lawsuit, your attorney will assist you in filing the necessary paperwork and representing you in court. Your goal will be to prove that the defendant’s actions directly resulted in your contracting the STD and seek appropriate compensation for your losses.

  • Cooperate with Authorities: If the transmission of the STD involves criminal behavior, such as intentional transmission or sexual assault, cooperate with law enforcement authorities investigating the case.

can you sue someone for giving you an std in california

Contact BLG’s Experienced Attorney for a Free Consultation

If you’ve been infected with an STD and are considering legal action against the responsible party, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team at BLG for a free consultation.

Our experienced attorneys are here to provide compassionate support and legal guidance tailored to your specific situation. Take the first step towards seeking justice and reclaiming your rights by contacting us today.

Remember, you’re not alone in this process. With the right legal help, you can hold those responsible for transmitting STDs accountable and obtain the compensation you need to move forward with your life.


Q: What if I consented to sexual activity with the person who gave me the STD?

A: Consent to sexual activity does not absolve someone of their responsibility to disclose their STD status and take measures to prevent transmission. If you were not informed of the risk of contracting an STD and did not knowingly consent to it, you may still have a valid legal claim.

Q: Can I file a lawsuit anonymously to protect my privacy?

A: In most cases, lawsuits are a matter of public record, meaning your identity may be disclosed during the legal process. However, your attorney can advise you on strategies to protect your privacy to the extent possible.

Q: How long do I have to file a lawsuit for contracting an STD?

A: The statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit varies depending on the specific circumstances of your case and the type of claim you’re pursuing. It’s essential to consult with an attorney as soon as possible to ensure you don’t miss any deadlines.

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