STDs are on the rise in Travis County. More and more people, particularly those living in Austin, are being diagnosed with syphilis, chlamydia, herpes, gonorrhea, and other sexually-transmitted diseases.

According to a spokesman for Austin Public Health, the surge in STDs in Austin “is outpacing the population growth.” Since 2014, STDs in the area have increased by more than 34 percent. So, if you’re dating in Austin, you might want to be extra careful.

What happens if you do happen to contract an STD in Austin? Do you have any legal options? Can you file a lawsuit against the person you got it from if you didn’t tell you they were infected before you had sex?

It is Legal to Hide the Fact That You Have an STD?

There’s no law in the state of Texas that requires a person to disclose that they have an STD to a sexual partner. However, just because something isn’t illegal doesn’t make it right. It also doesn’t mean that there can’t be legal consequences. Civil lawsuits are based on torts, not violations of a penal code.

A tort is a violation of another person’s rights that harms them in some way. Examples of torts include negligence, products liability, intentional infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy, and assault. A victim of a tort can potentially recover compensation from the person who hurt them by filing a civil lawsuit for damages.

Transmitting an STD Could Be Considered Assault

In Texas, an assault occurs if someone intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly:

  • Causes bodily injury;
  • Threatens imminent bodily injury, or
  • Causes offensive or provocative physical contact.

Common examples are throwing a punch, threatening to beat someone up, or putting your hands on someone in a threatening manner.

At the very core, assault means that someone hurts you or threatens to harm you without your consent. With this understanding, that means that transmitting an STD could be classified as assault.

However, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • The person you had sex with must have known or should have known that they were infected with a sexually-transmitted disease; and
  • The person had sex with you without disclosing this information, knowing that it could be transmitted to you and cause harm.

Assault requires intent. So, you’ll have the burden of proving that there was an intent to cause harm or imminent fear of harm.

You Must Suffer Some Harm to Secure Compensation

The fact that you had sex with someone who didn’t tell you they had an STD probably won’t be enough to warrant filing a lawsuit. That’s because, under Texas state law, you have to demonstrate that you’ve been harmed in some way.

Harm can take a lot of different shapes and forms, including physical harm, emotional distress, pain and suffering, or damage to property. You must be able to point to a specific, identifiable harm in order to recover compensation in a lawsuit.

If you’ve contracted an STD, there’s a good chance that you’ll be emotionally scarred. You might be afraid to engage in relationships with other people in the future. Some STDs might require extensive treatment, causing you to rack up a lot of medical bills.

If you don’t discover an STD right away, it could lead to other, more damaging health issues. These are all harms that can be the basis for a civil assault lawsuit against the person who gave you the STD.

Damages Might Be Available

If you’ve been harmed because you contracted an STD because you sex with someone who failed to mention that they were infected, you might be entitled to compensation. Damages might be available for things like:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of enjoyment of life, and more.

What happens if you were maliciously exposed to a very serious STD, such as HIV? If the person you had sex with failed to disclose that they were HIV positive and wanted you to become infected, that could be grounds for a punitive award. Punitive damages are rare in personal injury cases, as they’re reserved for situations when a defendant’s actions are defined as grossly negligent, fraudulent, or malicious.

Any personal injury case can be challenging. That’s certainly true when a case involves something as personal and intimate as sex and STDs. If you’ve contracted an STD because your partner didn’t tell you they were infected, you should seek the guidance of a personal injury lawyer near you. An attorney can help you understand your rights and determine the best course of action for your particular situation.