“I will do no harm or injustice to them.” Sound familiar? This is a quote pulled from the original Hippocratic Oath–a code of conduct for physicians. What does it all boil down to? This well-known code speaks of the physician’s sacred duty to care for their patients. And, although it’s not a binding code, it’s safe to say that most physicians keep it at the center of their practice.
And yet…doctors and other medical professionals are still human. Whether through active negligence or by accident, they make mistakes. And when they make mistakes? Real people suffer physical and emotional distress, sometimes for the rest of their lives.
The internet abounds with horror stories of botched operations, misdiagnoses, and mistreatment. Yet, the damages can run even deeper for harmed patients. Emotional distress is another serious outcome of a doctor’s negligence, and it can be as debilitating as any physical wound. Not only that, it may take even longer to heal, if it heals at all. That brings us to the topic of this blog post – how to sue for emotional distress. Keep reading to learn more!
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What Does Emotional Stress Look Like?
Let’s be real for a second–emotional distress isn’t something people want to talk about when it comes to issues with healthcare. Often people make it the butt of a joke, sometimes acting like the victim is making up problems for attention or personal gain. We can fall prey to the idea that folks suffering from emotional distress due to malpractice just need to “toughen up” and move on.
That attitude couldn’t be more wrong, and let’s talk about why.
The world of healthcare is already complicated and messy. Dealing with insurance companies, juggling various appointments, refilling prescriptions–even the routine aspects of healthcare are stressful. Of course, we didn’t even talk about the stress of actually dealing with a scary diagnosis, or enduring a painful treatment plan. How about undergoing a surgery, or managing a terminal illness?
Now, let’s say you’ve endured some of those obstacles already. Add to all that the weight of your physician not treating you well. This can run the gamut from refusing to take your symptoms seriously to not communicating well. Or, worse, maybe your doctor gave you a misdiagnosis. Maybe they messed up while you were on the operating table and caused further problems for you.
Any, or all, of these scenarios have you headed straight for emotional distress.
So what exactly are the symptoms?
Here are some examples of emotional distress:
- Memory loss
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Anxiety attacks
- Abuse of drugs and alcohol
- Fluctuations in weight
- Excessive sleeping
- Feeling hopeless or powerless
- Suicidal or self-destructive thoughts
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of sexual desire
And these are only a few. Emotional anguish in children is also possible. Aggression, disengagement, and being disruptive are further indications of emotional distress in the young. In addition, children may begin to perform poorly in school and lose interest in things that they previously enjoyed.
Emotional pain, as we all know, can be just as severe as a serious physical injury. A person may be unable to work, care for their family, or carry out basic daily tasks. And that’s no small thing!
You may want to seek mental health treatment if you’re experiencing extreme emotional suffering. Medication, psychotherapy, and various forms of treatment can help. Hospitalization can be a wise course of action if necessary. Emotional distress can be a very, very serious thing.
At this point, you’re probably starting to see why suing for emotional distress may make sense. Keep reading to see how emotional distress impacts more than just your physical health.
How Does Emotional Distress Impact Other Areas Of Your Life?
Issues like the symptoms listed above are going to make it difficult to continue going about your daily life. Things that might have seemed simple before might become an obstacle course. Things like showing up to work on time, communicating with your spouse, or keeping up with classes. Starting to see why suing a doctor for emotional distress should be a consideration?
Let’s take it even further–once you’ve gone through something like this, it’s going to be hard to trust a medical professional in the future. If you can’t trust your doctor, you’re not going to want to schedule followup appointments. And if you can’t schedule followup appointments, important issues are going to go untreated.
Oh, and of course there’s a financial aspect to all this. If you’re missing work, you’re losing money. And if you have to undergo added procedures to fix a doctor’s error, it’s costing you. There’s also the possibility that you’ll need counseling to heal from emotional distress, and that comes with a price. Of course, as finances become tight, emotional distress is only going to climb higher.
See how emotional distress is impacting every aspect of your life in a negative way?
It’s safe to say that suffering emotional distress at a doctor’s hands is a very real issue, and that it’s not a joke. So, what can you do about it if this has already happened to you?
Thankfully, there are options. You have the right to quality healthcare, and the right to take action if you’ve been wronged. One route is to sue your doctor or hospital for emotional distress, which is where Hampton & King can come in.
When Can You Sue a Doctor for Emotional Distress?
There are two instances.
You may be entitled to compensation if you have experienced mental distress:
- When a doctor makes a mistake that results in bodily damage and mental distress. Let’s say you have a healthy limb, for example, that’s amputated by mistake because your doctor operates on the wrong arm. Ouch. Perhaps you sink into a severe depression as a result of the unnecessary and permanent physical handicap.
2. When a doctor makes a mistake that results in emotional distress alone (no physical damage). A doctor can certainly create emotional suffering apart from physical injury. For instance, a doctor may misdiagnose a patient and give them six months to live when they clearly have a treatable ailment.
Your right to seek damages for mental distress that is not caused by a physical injury is recognized in Texas, and many other states. When bodily injuries are involved, however, compensation tends tp be more likely to be awarded.
Emotional Distress Cases (Examples)
Do you have an emotional distress case? Well, let’s explore the possiblities. An event or occurrence caused by negligence, faults, or mistakes can easily result in negligent infliction of emotional distress. If your doctor’s negligence caused severe emotional distress, you should talk to your attorney right away, because you may have a case.
The following are some examples of cases where negligent infliction of emotional distress may be involved:
- Malpractice in the medical field
- Injuries caused by faulty products
- Accidents on a construction site
- Maritime accidents
- Injuries from dog bites
- Accidents involving motor vehicles, such as car accidents, motorbike collisions, and truck accidents
- Accidents involving pedestrians and bicyclists
Demands for compensation for economic and non-economic damages may be included in a claim for emotional anguish.
Economic damages may include lost salaries, treatment costs, and other monetary losses.
Pain and suffering caused by emotional anguish are referred to as non-economic damages.
You don’t have to experience physical injury to have a case. If you witness something terrible, and it cause mental trauma for example, you may be entitled to compensation for emotional distress. It depends on a number of things, but the first step is to call your attorney and schedule a consultation, so you can figure out whether or not you have a case.
How to Sue For Emotional Distress
Navigating a lawsuit can seem daunting, but our attorneys are here to help you. We have the expertise to guide you every step of the way.
Before scheduling a consultation, you may have a few questions. For instance, you might wonder whether it would even be possible to prove that a doctor caused you emotional distress. If you’re looking to sue for emotional distress, the more documentation and proof you have, the better.
Here are a few examples:
- Proof of a relationship with the doctor — such as appointment cards or receipts from a doctor’s visit
- Medical Bills
- Emails, messages, texts, etc.
- Diary/Journal Entries
- Records of missed work
- Prescription bills
- Therapy bills
If you choose to sue for emotional distress, you want to be able to show that:
- You worked with the medical professional in question,
- That they acted negligently,
- This negligence resulted in emotional distress, and
- Emotional distress has caused you actual damage.
So, here’s the bottom line. If you’ve suffered at the hands of a doctor and it’s led to emotional distress, you have options. Everyday, we entrust our health to medical professionals, and we have the right to take action when that trust is violated. If you are suffering emotional distress due to medical malpractice, you may be able to sue.
We’re here to help! Contact Hampton & King today to set up a free consultation.