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Can I Seek Compensation for Emotional Distress Caused by a Doctor?

Posted in Medical malpractice on July 6, 2022

Doctors and medical providers owe a duty of care to meet or exceed the accepted standard of care for a situation. Medical negligence, malpractice, and doctor’s errors can cause catastrophic injuries and permanent impairments. In addition, their wrongdoing can cause lifelong impacts on a patient’s quality of life.

However, a doctor’s conduct can also cause emotional distress. Therefore, whether it is an intentional act or negligence, you deserve to be compensated for the emotional distress caused by a doctor in New York.

What Is Emotional Distress in New York?

Emotional distress is mental suffering and trauma a person experiences because of an event or condition. Mental trauma can result in emotional and psychological disorders. Emotional distress can also cause physical symptoms.

Examples of emotional distress include, but are not limited to:

  • Depression
  • Chronic panic attacks
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Sudden weight loss or weight gain
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Overwhelming fear
  • Loss of sexual desire
  • Memory problems
  • Feelings of guilt, shame, or embarrassment without reason
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Aggression and mood disorders
  • Uncontrollable crying
  • Eating disorders
  • Headaches and body aches
  • Isolation and withdrawal
  • Reliance on alcohol and/or drugs to relieve symptoms of emotional distress

The symptoms of emotional distress can be just as debilitating as a physical injury. A person may be unable to work or function in daily activities. They may find it difficult or nearly impossible to care for themselves or their family members.

When a doctor’s conduct causes emotional distress, a patient may be entitled to compensation for damages. They could have grounds to sue the doctor under negligence or medical malpractice laws.

When Can I Sue My Doctor for Causing Emotional Distress?

Emotional distress can be associated with a physical injury or harm. It can also be caused by the trauma of experiencing an event or situation. Therefore, patients may sue their doctors for causing emotional distress when:

  • The doctor’s actions or inactions result in physical harm to the patient. For example, a doctor operates on an incorrect body part, performs an unnecessary amputation, or prescribes the wrong medication, resulting in permanent bodily function loss.
  • The doctor’s actions caused extreme emotional distress without physical injury. Examples might include causing the death of a fetus or misdiagnosing a patient and telling them they have a terminal illness.

Some states require a person to sustain physical injury to recover compensation for emotional distress. However, New York does not require physical injury for parties to recover money for emotional distress. Even so, proving emotional distress without a physical injury can be more challenging.

How Do You Prove Your Doctor Caused You Emotional Distress?

Emotional distress is a subjective injury. Each person experiences a traumatic event differently. Therefore, you must prove that the doctor’s actions caused you to experience emotional distress.

If your doctor caused physical injuries, it is generally presumed that you will experience some level of trauma and emotional suffering. However, that is not the only way to prove emotional distress.

Testimony from your psychiatrist, counselor, and therapist who treated you for emotional distress can be used as evidence. Also, expert testimony from mental health specialists and other expert witnesses can be used as evidence in a lawsuit for emotional distress. Testimony from your family members and friends can provide details about how the medical malpractice has impacted your daily life, emotional state, and relationship with other people.

Keeping a daily journal detailing your struggle to recover from the trauma caused by a doctor’s malpractice along with your testimony can be significant evidence. Record the dates and details of anxiety, depression, fear, and insomnia episodes. In addition, make entries providing details about activities you missed or things you cannot do because of the symptoms of emotional distress.

What Damages Can I Receive for a Lawsuit Against a Doctor in New York?

Before you can recover damages for compensation, you must prove the elements of a malpractice claim. You must prove:

  • A doctor-patient relationship existed between you and the physician, establishing a duty of care
  • The doctor breached the duty of care through intentional or negligent conduct
  • The breach of duty was the direct and proximate result of your injuries and harm
  • You sustained damages because of the doctor’s conduct

Emotional distress is a form of non-economic damages. Other non-economic damages include loss of enjoyment of life, permanent impairments, and diminished quality of life.

In addition to these damages, you can seek economic damages for medical malpractice. Those damages include lost wages, medical bills, personal care, diminished earning potential, and out-of-pocket expenses.

There are deadlines for filing medical malpractice claims and lawsuits against your doctor for emotional distress.

The New York Statute of limitations for most medical malpractice claims is two years and six months from the end of continuous treatment that caused the harm. However, there are exceptions, so it is best to speak with a New York medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible.

Contact Our Medical Malpractice Law Firm in New York, NY

If you need legal assistance, contact the New York City medical malpractice lawyers at Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel Personal Injury Lawyers at your nearest location to schedule a free consultation.

We have two convenient locations in New York:

Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel Personal Injury Lawyers – New York City Office
450 7th Ave #409
New York, NY 10123
(212) 564-2800

Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel Personal Injury Lawyers – Brooklyn Office
26 Court St Suite 2511
Brooklyn, NY 11242
(718) 802-1600

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