emotionally distressed patient

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

Under California law, it is possible to sue another party for “emotional distress”. In this way, you may sue medical professionals like doctors, nurses, and other specialists if they directly cause you emotional distress while you are under their care or while following their directions.

Individuals seeking compensation for emotional distress caused by a physician should contact a California medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible. With the right legal counsel, your lawsuit will stand the best chance of success. 

Emotional Distress Caused by a Personal Injury

California law allows you to sue for emotional distress and three different damage types, including:

  • Punitive damages –  awarded if the defendant is proven to have engaged in egregious conduct (i.e. they were malicious or cruel and their administration of medical treatment to you)
  • Economic damages – awarded for financial losses that may stem from an injury directly caused by the medical practitioner’s actions
  • Non-economic damages –  can be monetary compensation for your emotional distress

According to California law, pain and suffering, depression, PTSD, mental anguish, loss of love and/or affection, and more can count as emotional distress.

It is generally much easier to prove emotional distress and successfully sue another party if you received a physical injury. The injury can then possibly be linked to the root cause of your emotional distress.

For example, if a doctor performs surgery on you and botches the procedure, you may be able to sue them for emotional distress. In this case, the botched procedure, and the resulting disability or pain you suffered, are the provable, direct causes of your emotional distress.

What if You Were Not Physically Injured?

It is possible to sue a doctor for emotional distress even if you are not physically injured, though it is oftentimes more difficult. In California, you cannot sue for injured feelings or perceived slights alone. But you may still be able to pursue legal compensation with the assistance of California personal injury attorneys.

Successful lawsuits for emotional distress when you are not physically injured are contingent on certain circumstances, including:

  • You feared for your physical safety due to the behavior or actions of the medical professional
  • You witnessed another person, such as a close friend or family member, directly injured or killed by the medical professional
  • You developed a mental disorder because of the medical professional’s conduct. In this case, you did not suffer a physical injury but are still able to sue for emotional distress

Should You Sue for Emotional Distress of Medical Malpractice?

When a medical practitioner performs badly or is negligent, it can be difficult to determine whether you should sue for medical malpractice or for more specific emotional distress. Once again, personal injury lawyers can advise you on these matters and determine the lawsuit type that is most likely to succeed.

Medical malpractice is contingent on being able to prove negligence on the part of the doctor, nurse, or another medical practitioner. For more information, contact our California personal injury attorneys today.