A woman is to be awarded $5.2 million (£4.16 million) by a car insurance company after ‘catching a sexually transmitted infection from her ex-boyfriend’ while having sex in his Hyundai Genesis.
The unprecedented judgement in the United States could redefine what kind of ‘injuries’ firms will have to pay out for in future.
The woman contacted the GEICO General Insurance Company in February 2021 to request a payout, alleging she had contracted HPV from one of their insurance member’s in his vehicle.
The human papillomavirus is the name of a common group of viruses – with the NHS saying most people will get one type in their lifetime.
They do not cause any problems in most people, but some types can cause genital warts or abnormal changes in the cells that can sometimes turn into cancer.
Court documents seen by show the woman alleged that her ex had been told he had HPV and a throat cancer tumour.
But he continued to have unprotected sex with her while aware of the risks, she argued.
He was reportedly found liable for not sharing his infection status and GEICO was ordered to pay the woman $5.2 million for damages and injuries.
The insurance company fought the judgement, arguing it violated the company’s rights to due process and the arbitration agreement was unenforceable.
But a three-judge panel at the Missouri Court of Appeals found Jackson County Circuit Court had not made a mistake in tossing their claims out.
While the results of the case are unheard of, the payout has been named ‘reasonable’ by Los Angeles personal injury attorney Miguel Custodio.
He said: ‘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.
‘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.’
Mr Custodio claims the judgement could even impact other insurance claims.
For example, experts could have to assess whether someone can demand money from home insurance providers if they contract an STI in their partner’s house.
He added that firms will now be calling up ‘an army of attorneys’ to find a way of preventing similar claims.
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