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Suing for Sexually Transmitted Disease

Contracting a sexually transmitted disease from a partner can be a disturbing and even devastating event. In some situations someone who has been infected by a partner may wish to pursue legal action to recover compensation for the cost of medical treatment. The merits of a lawsuit related to an STD will depend on the facts of the situation.

Theories of recovery for an STD

Because an STD is a type of personal injury, one must look first at whether negligence is an appropriate cause of action. Negligence involves a failure to exercise a degree of care that would be exercised under similar circumstances by a careful and prudent person. Someone who is aware that they have a sexually transmittable disease but does not disclose it to a partner may be committing an act of negligence. Given the right facts the infected person’s behavior could be so outrageous that it could justify a claim of gross negligence. Factors that might contribute to this analysis are the seriousness of the illness, the individual’s awareness of its transmissibility, and the particular facts surrounding the case. If the defendant intentionally infected the plaintiff with an STD a claim of civil battery may be warranted. To successfully sue for battery the plaintiff must be able to prove that the defendant acted with willful intent to cause the harm. Proving the defendant’s intent can be a challenge. Bear in mind that battery is also a crime.

Challenges related to bringing suit for STDs

Filing a civil lawsuit in connection with an STD is often not an easy choice to make, even if it is clearly supported by the facts. There are a number of reasons why this is true, including:
  • Privacy and embarrassment. One can expect every detail of the relationship between the plaintiff and defendant to be scrutinized by lawyers and the court. Because the facts of an STD’s transmission invariably involve highly personal details, many potential plaintiffs prefer to not pursue a case.
  • Problems of proof. Proving that a partner was the source of an STD can require piecing together a complicated and invasive set of facts. Plaintiffs who have had multiple sexual partners can expect that fact to become a focus of the defense, as it tries to shift the possibility of blame to other sources.
  • Proving damages. Lawsuits involving transmission of STDs usually relate to cases of incurable illnesses that have long-term health consequences. A disease that affects a person’s long-term health probably will involve substantial medical bills that can justify going to the expense of litigation. If the disease could be cured with conventional antibiotics simply may not have enough measurable damages to warrant filing suit. In some cases the plaintiff may have suffered severe mental anguish as a consequence of the STD, and that suffering may offer an independent form of injury that could justify litigation.

Talk to a personal injury lawyer about your situation

A personal injury attorney can help clarify the potential merits of a lawsuit. The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has a long history of helping injured clients recover compensation. We pride ourselves on our caring, considerate approach to each case. For a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or ask us to call you through our contacts page.

Distinguishing Between Assault and Battery in Nevada

Distinguishing Between Assault and Battery in Nevada
In popular vernacular the distinction between assault and battery often gets lost. What many people describe as assault is actually a form of battery in many situations. Quite often the two concepts are paired together because an assault often precedes a battery, but they are separate causes of action. In fact, they are criminal causes of action, but they can each also be grounds for a civil lawsuit.


Assault, as defined in NRS 200.471, involves “unlawfully attempting to use physical force against another person, or intentionally placing another person in reasonable apprehension of immediate bodily harm.” Note the two separate forms of assault: attempting to hurt someone, and making someone afraid that they are about to be hurt. In either case, intent is a critical component. The defendant must have intended to hurt the victim but for whatever reason was prevented from doing so (the “attempt” side of the coin) or the defendant must have intended that the victim be afraid. A key component of “causing fear” assault is that it depends on the subjective interpretation of the victim, not the actual intent of the perpetrator. For example, a defendant who assumes a threatening posture and says, “Get out of my way or I’ll knock you over,” may be committing assault even if there’s no intent to actually knock the person down. Rather, if the victim reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger, that is enough to support an assault claim. Another key component of assault is that the victim must be aware of what’s happening for assault to occur. If in the prior example the person being threatened had his or her back turned and didn’t hear the defendant’s threat, there likely wasn’t an assault. The same would be true if the target of the alleged assault was asleep. In that sense, assault is very much an emotional crime. One reason that assault is often confused with battery is that some causes of action, especially in the criminal realm, use the term “assault” where “battery” would typically be used in a civil context. For example, the crime of sexual assault involves a physical violation of a victim’s body. In a civil context the victim might sue the perpetrator for sexual battery.


NRS 200.481 defines battery as “any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.” Like assault, the defendant’s intent is critically important. If the defendant wasn’t paying attention and accidentally knocked into the plaintiff, the plaintiff probably couldn’t argue that the defendant had committed battery. But if the defendant in the example above had followed through and actually knocked down the victim of the preceding assault, then battery might properly be said of have occurred. Unlike assault battery can take place whether the victim is aware of it or not. Battery can be committed against someone who is unconscious, asleep, or just distracted. A classic example of battery without assault is the sucker punch: the perpetrator sneaks up on the unsuspecting victim and hits them in the face with the intent of knocking them to the ground.

Remedies for assault and battery

As mentioned earlier, assault and battery are criminal offenses, punishable by fines and jail time that vary by the seriousness of the offense. Crimes are prosecuted by state or local prosecutors, not private law firms. However, a criminal case doesn’t necessarily address the kind of harms a victim of assault and/or battery can endure. That is why a personal injury lawsuit against the perpetrator may also be appropriate. One reason the victim of an assault or battery may want to pursue a civil case is if he or she has suffered substantial damages that have not been compensated for by the criminal process. A criminal trial can award a victim reimbursement for medical expenses and other “economic” damages, but cannot compensate for noneconomic damages like pain, suffering, or emotional distress. Civil cases also require a lower standard of proof, which can be important for causes of action like this, where the defendant’s intent must be proven. Even if the criminal case can’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intended to hurt the victim, in the civil trial the plaintiff need only prove intent by a preponderance of the evidence.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez represents injured clients in the Las Vegas area. If you have suffered an assault or battery, please call us today for a free, confidential attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or ask us to reach out to you through our contact page.