More Than Hurt Feelings: How to Sue a Hospital Doctor for Emotional Distress

At times, emotional distress caused by a medical personnel’s negligent or intentional act can be even more detrimental than a physical injury. Oftentimes, patients can be eligible for compensation. However, because emotional distress on its own is not immediately qualified and cannot be seen, it is often much more problematic to obtain a recovery than it is when coupled with physical injuries. A few courts in New York have very specific rules for patients making these claims.

Medical professionals owe patients a great level of care and are entrusted to deliver the best medical treatment. When medical malpractice cases occur, they can cause patients long-lasting mental effects, to the point where they may not be able to resume essential daily activities or return to their job.

What is Emotional Distress? 

It’s quite difficult to redress damages for injuries that stemmed from emotional distress. Unlike a physical injury or a broken ankle, it’s often tough to definitely prove your injury. It’s for this fact that you should address the different types of emotional distress claims that you may file up before attempting to proceed with one based on emotional distress.

Emotional distress is commonly referred to as “mental anguish”, a psychological injury stated in civil lawsuits. To be more precise, the U.S law identifies emotional distress as a state of mental suffering that happens because of an experience caused by intentional or negligent acts of another, typically of a physical nature.

According to Individuals or witnesses who personally experienced emotional trauma due to medical negligence and their families may be eligible for a civil lawsuit alleging medical misdiagnosis. Often patients who experience emotional distress may be exhibit feelings of:

  • Depression
  • Appetite Changes
  • Weight loss
  • Memory issues
  • Aggression
  • Loss of sexual desire
  • Lack of energy
  • Anxiety
  • Increased alcohol use
  • Sleep disturbances

Patients who effectively support severe emotional distress due to medical misdiagnosis or any case of medical negligence can obtain recompense for their lost income, medical bills, and their pain and suffering. When a physician behaviour is particularly horrendous, the judge may grant punitive damages, which are meant as a penalty for the defendant.

When Can I Sue a Hospital for Emotional Distress?

Generally, there are two situations that may entitle you to recompense for experiencing emotional distress:

  • A situation in which medical personnel acts negligently and causes physical damage, resulting in emotional distress. For instance, a person’s hand is amputated by mistakes due to their physician operating on the wrong body part. The excessive permanent physical debility may lead the patient to become withdrawn and sunken into a bottomless depression state.
  • Emotional distress caused by hospital personnel without the existence of a physical injury. For instance, a physician misdiagnosing a patient and telling them they have four months to live when they actually have a treatable condition.

In some states, legislators recognize a person’s right to seek damage for emotional distress that does not stream from a physical injury. What’s more, recompense is much more likely to grant when physical injuries are engaged.

It’s Hard to Sue for Emotional Distress? 

As we’ve previously mentioned, emotional distress instances can be tricky simply because patients have to prove an injury that they cannot physically see. Consequently, in cases in which emotional trauma damages are claimed, patients must bring solid documentation that will prove to the court that they’ve suffered genuine damages.

That means a doctor, therapist, or psychologist should diagnose you with PTSD, depression, or other mental health condition. Here an expert witness is often necessary to help prove the court that you both experienced actual damage and the number of damages that resulted from that injury. Because of the involvement of expert bystanders, suing for emotional distress is frequently very expensive.

However, if you need a valid claim for severe emotional distress, a personal injury lawyer can take your case on a contingency fee basis, which will prevent you from paying substantial case fees yourself.

Besides the numerous amounts of evidence you must bring to prove damages, you should also be able to prove the other elements of an emotional distress lawsuit. As such, you must prove the event that caused the emotional turmoil was due to reckless or intentional acts of a person who acted with outrageous or extreme conduct, and it resulted in your struggling with severe emotional distress.

How Can I Prove Emotional Distress? 

The biggest hurdle in supporting a lawsuit for emotional distress is providing documentation of what happened and the facts that caused harm. For example, make sure you bring the following evidence:

  • A doctor-patient relationship existed, confirming the duty of care owed.
  • The reckless actions resulted in severe emotional distress
  • The physician breached his duty with negligent conduct.
  • The resulting emotional turmoil has caused actual damages.

If you bring these cases to the trial, they will almost always require your expert testimony from a psychiatrist or therapist who has treated you. Testimony from friends, family, or co-workers can also be necessary if they can attest to your mental state and how they have changed your life as a result of the medical personnel’s error. More evidence that can support in proving your claim are:

  • Email messages.
  • Journal and diary entries.
  • Prescription costs.
  • Any records from witness to the event.
  • Records of lost wages and missed work.

Do I really need an Attorney to Sue for Emotional Distress? 

As you’ve noticed, proving an emotional distress case is often a tricky matter, especially when you don’t also have a physical injury. Thus, emotional distress cases are often quite expensive due to the nature of having to appoint an expert witness, such as a doctor or psychologist, to prove the magnitude of your injury and the amount of income you’ve spent on proper recovery.

For all of these reasons, discussing with a personal injury lawyer can help you evaluate your case, build enough evidence to prove your case and represent you in court.

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