In an unprecedented court finding last Tuesday, a woman in Missouri was awarded $5.2 million in damages against her ex-boyfriend’s auto insurance company after allegedly contracting a sexually transmitted disease from him after having sex in his car.
The woman notified GEICO General Insurance Company that she sought monetary damages in February 2021, claiming that she contracted the human papillomavirus (HPV) from an insured driver in his vehicle. The two had been romantically involved since 2017, and she alleged that despite knowing of his throat cancer tumor and HPV diagnosis, he continued to have unprotected sex with her.
While this case sounds unusual, firm co-founder Miguel Custodio told DailyMail.com, “If you think about it as an injury sustained while in that person's vehicle, then it totally falls within what an insurance company would be required to pay.”
Custodio continued, “Usually, injuries to passengers are the result of a collision, or slamming the door on one's fingers, that sort of thing. But while a lawsuit over contracting an STD from the insured driver may be the first of its kind, this award shows that it's not a stretch for someone to file against an insurance company for any actions occurring in a motor vehicle.”
In May 2021, her ex-boyfriend was found liable for not disclosing his STD and it was determined that the two having sex in his vehicle “directly caused, or directly contributed to cause” of the HPV infection. Although GEICO sought a new hearing and for the award to be tossed, citing a violation to the company’s rights to due process, the Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed that the insurance company must pay the entire $5.2 million to the woman.
GEICO’s contract forced the matter to go to arbitration, where a decision was rendered, so they have no special rights to relitigate the matter just because the decision didn’t go their way, he said.
Custodio raised the idea that this finding may be causing insurance companies to consider amending their insurance policies, “I expect they already have an army of attorneys poring over their contracts and devising ways to prevent these kinds of claims in the future.”
This ruling could even be applied outside of the auto insurance industry, Custodio noted, “The entire insurance industry is certain to be looking at this case, because it could have ramifications in all kinds of situations. For example, what if someone contracts HIV from their partner in their partner’s home, and the partner didn’t reveal his medical issue – can you go after their home insurance for this?”
“The lesson to be learned here is that people need to broaden the scope of what an injury is. Most people would not think that contracting this disease is an injury suffered in a vehicle — though it definitely is.”
If you or someone you know was injured in a motor vehicle, contact the skilled personal injury lawyers at Custodio & Dubey LLP. With over 25 years of experience, our lawyers will guide you at every step of the way to help you receive the justice you deserve.