"AIDS PHOBIA" FEAR OF HAVING BEEN EXPOSED TO THE AIDS (HIV) VIRUS
Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress
While exposure to the HIV virus, and subsequent contraction of the Aids virus, is no longer, thankfully, a death sentence, it is nevertheless a frightening and life altering event that, without proper and constant lifelong medication could, eventually , lead to a premature death. Consequently, being exposed to the HIV virus, because of the negligence of someone else, may well be grounds for a lawsuit for “emotional distress”.
“Emotional Distress,” unlike a matter involving a purely physical injury, consists entirely of a psychological component.
While a fracture of the ankle cannot be easily faked, the objective determination that “emotional distress” truly exists is far harder to establish. The courts are well aware of this potential for fraud, and rules have been established that, while making it far harder to create a false cause of action, also, unfortunately, do result in many legitimate actions being denied.
To maintain a cause of action arising from a fear of contracting the aids virus, the person bringing the lawsuit (the Plaintiff) must either show:
1. He or she actually contracted the aids virus or, if he or she did not contract the virus, then, 2. That he or she ACTUALLY was exposed to the HIV virus. To show that the exposure to the virus was “ACTUAL” the Plaintiff must show that the way the virus was allegedly transmitted was recognized as a scientifically acceptable means of transmission (such as a hypodermic needle), AND that the source of the possible infection (the blood or other liquid or residue) was, IN FACT, infected with the HIV virus !! If you are, for example, stuck by a needle by accident in some medical office, and the needle is lost (perhaps because maintenance throws the needle out before it can be retrieved), you may well have NO CASE for “emotional distress” for the entire time you wait to find out if you are HIV positive≠unless you eventually DO contract aids. Why? Because you cannot show that the needle was contaminated with the HIV virus.
WARNING: While the rules regarding an action for “emotional distress”, especially in “Aids Phobia” cases, are very stringent, there are some exceptions that have been carved out by the courts. Never assume, in serious matters, that the option of a lawsuit does not exist. Be certain to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can guide you through the thicket of laws and court decisions in making the proper decision.
At The Orlow Firm we have over 30 years experience in personal injury law. We will fight for your justice.