BusinesNews Wire Press Release company Logo
Home Frankly Can You Sue a Hospital for Emotional Distress?

Can You Sue a Hospital for Emotional Distress?

by Busines Newswire
0 comment

Experiencing medical negligence can leave patients with not only physical injuries, but also significant emotional trauma. The discomfort, anxiety, and loss of trust resulting from errors, misdiagnoses, or negligent treatment often lead to profound distress that disrupts daily life. Victims deserve justice and compensation for all damages inflicted, including emotional suffering. But can you successfully sue a hospital for the emotional distress caused by medical malpractice?

Understanding Emotional Distress in Medical Malpractice Cases

Emotional distress refers to psychological anguish and mental suffering resulting from traumatic incidents or negligence. In medical malpractice cases, this distress frequently stems from physical pain, misdiagnoses, surgical errors, or negligent aftercare. The emotional toll of such experiences can manifest as anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other conditions that damage quality of life.

To have grounds to sue for emotional distress, three key elements must be established:

  • The hospital or medical staff owed the patient a duty of care
  • This duty was breached through negligent actions below the standard of care
  • The breach directly caused observable emotional harm

Unlike some injury claims, you may be able to sue for emotional distress even without accompanying physical harm. However, proving the extent of distress and its impacts will require persuasive evidence and testimony.

When Can You Sue for Emotional Distress?

In the context of medical malpractice, you may be able to sue a hospital for emotional distress if certain elements are present. To establish grounds for a claim, your medical malpractice attorney must prove the following:

  1. Duty of Care: A doctor-patient relationship existed, and the healthcare provider owed you a duty to provide a reasonable standard of care.
  2. Breach of Duty: The doctor or hospital staff breached their duty by failing to provide the accepted standard of care, as expected from a similarly trained and experienced medical professional.
  3. Causation: The breach of duty directly resulted in your injuries or emotional distress. 
  4. Damages: You suffered compensable damages, such as emotional distress, that have had a substantial impact on your life.

In addition to the above elements, there are specific circumstances where emotional distress claims are more readily allowed, even without an accompanying physical injury:

  • Zone of Danger: If you witnessed someone’s death or serious injury and were in physical danger, you may have grounds to sue for negligent infliction of emotional distress.
  • Separate Tort or Wrongful Act: If the emotional distress occurred due to a separate tort or wrongful act committed by the healthcare provider, such as a breach of consent or mishandling of a loved one’s remains, you may have grounds for a claim.
  • Physical Injury: If you also suffered a physical injury caused by medical malpractice, you can include emotional distress as part of your damages.

Two notable cases that have shaped the landscape of emotional distress claims in medical malpractice are Clark v. Children’s Memorial and Cochran v. Securitas Security. These cases established that emotional distress can be claimed as an element of damages for a separate tort, even without a physical injury or presence in the “zone of danger.”

Proving Emotional Distress

To prove emotional distress and hold the hospital liable, your personal injury attorney must meet the “preponderance of evidence” standard. This means that the evidence must demonstrate that it is more likely than not that the hospital’s negligence caused your emotional injuries.

Some common types of evidence that can support an emotional distress claim include:

  • A clinical diagnosis of a psychological or psychiatric disorder from a mental health professional
  • Testimony from a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other qualified expert witness
  • Accounts from family, friends, or coworkers describing changes in your behavior or well-being
  • Documentation of impacts on your work performance, social activities, or hobbies
  • Medical bills or records related to counseling, therapy, or treatment for emotional distress

While expert testimony is not strictly required, it can be highly persuasive in emotional distress cases. Your attorney may work with medical and psychological experts to provide compelling evidence of the emotional toll you’ve suffered.

Potential Damages for Emotional Distress

If you successfully sue a hospital for emotional distress, you may be entitled to various types of damages to compensate for your losses and suffering. These can include:

  • Economic Damages: Financial losses include medical expenses for counseling or therapy, lost income due to inability to work, and reduced earning potential.
  • Non-Economic Damages: Pain and suffering damages for the emotional anguish, mental distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and overall diminished quality of life.

In some states, emotional distress damages are separated from pain and suffering damages, while in others, they may be combined under a broader category of “non-economic damages.” The amount of compensation awarded will depend on factors such as the severity of your emotional trauma, the extent of its impact on your life, and the specific laws in your state.

Key Steps for Filing an Emotional Distress Lawsuit Against a Hospital

  1. Consult an attorney – An malpractice attorney in my area can assess your emotional distress case, advise on evidence needed and navigate legal complexities.
  2. Gather evidence – Medical records, expert opinions, and testimony from loved ones help validate emotional trauma.
  3. File before the statute of limitations expires – In most states, this limit is 2-3 years. Timeliness is essential.
  4. Prove causation – The link between the hospital’s negligence and the patient’s distress must be clearly established.
  5. Be prepared for challenges – The defense may dispute the extent of distress or argue other factors caused it. Strong legal advocacy is key.

Choosing the Right Medical Malpractice Lawyers

Though complex, suing a hospital for emotional distress due to medical negligence is possible with the right approach. Those who have experienced such trauma need personalized legal guidance to seek fair redress. Contact the compassionate medical malpractice attorneys at Miley Legal Accident Injury Lawyers for a free consultation. With over 355 5-star Google reviews, we have the experience and resources to help you seek maximum compensation for your emotional distress caused by medical malpractice. Call (304) 326-1800 today!