A woman is to be paid $5.2m (£4.16m) by a car insurance company after ‘catching a sexually transmitted infection from her ex-boyfriend’ while having sex in his Hyundai Genesis.
The unprecedented judgment in the United States could redefine the type of “injuries” that companies will have to pay in the future.
The woman contacted general insurance company GEICO in February 2021 to request payment, alleging that she had contracted HPV from one of their insurance members in her vehicle.
Human papillomavirus is the name for a common group of viruses – with the NHS saying most people will contract one type in their lifetime.
They cause no problems in most people, but some types can cause genital warts or abnormal changes in cells that can sometimes turn into cancer.
Court documents seen by MailOnline show the woman alleged her ex was told he had HPV and a throat cancer tumour.
But he continued to have unprotected sex with her despite being aware of the risks, she argued.
He was reportedly found guilty of not sharing his infection status and GEICO was ordered to pay the woman $5.2 million for damages and injuries.
The insurance company challenged the judgment, arguing that it violated the company’s due process rights and that the arbitration agreement was unenforceable.
But a three-judge Missouri Court of Appeals panel found the Jackson County Circuit Court did not err in dismissing their claims.
Although the outcome of the case is unknown, the payout was called “reasonable” by Los Angeles personal injury attorney Miguel Custodio.
He said: ‘If you think of it as an injury sustained in that person’s vehicle, it is totally within what an insurance company would be liable to pay.’
“Usually passenger injuries are the result of a collision, or slamming the door on the fingers, that sort of thing.
“But while a lawsuit for contracting an STD from the insured driver may be the first of its kind, this award shows that it is no exaggeration for someone to file a lawsuit against an insurance company for any action occurring in a motor vehicle.”
Mr Custodio says the judgment could even impact other insurance claims.
For example, experts might have to assess whether someone can demand money from home insurance providers if they contract an STI in their partner’s home.
He added that the companies would now call in “an army of lawyers” to find a way to prevent similar claims.
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