How to Sue a Doctor for Emotional Distress

Sue-a-Doctor-for-Emotional-DistressPatients depend on doctors to make them well and to use sufficient care and skill while being treated.

Unfortunately, some doctors make careless mistakes that end up harming their patients, physically and emotionally.

As a leading North Carolina law firm dedicated to helping medical malpractice victims, we frequently receive questions about this issue.

If you’ve ever wondered, “Can I sue my doctor for emotional distress?”, we will walk through the key considerations.

Types of Emotional Distress

Emotional distress encompasses many negative emotions, such as:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Anger
  • Embarrassment
  • Irritability

These negative emotions can dramatically reduce your quality of life and make it hard to return to your daily activities. Many people also need medication or therapy to help them recover, and difficulties can continue for years or indefinitely.

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Situations Where You Can Sue for Emotional Distress

Generally, there are two situations where you will experience emotional distress that deserves compensation:

  • Emotional distress arises from a physical injury caused by the doctor. For example, a doctor might have operated on the wrong body part and removed a leg that was perfectly healthy. You now slump into a deep depression because of this permanent physical disability.
  • Emotional distress that is unrelated to any physical injury. For example, a doctor might have wrongly told you that you have six months to live, which causes you to become severely anxious, requiring medication. Here, the emotional distress did not arise from a physical injury. Many states do not allow this type of claim, but North Carolina does.

In the first situation, you can sue for medical malpractice and receive emotional distress compensation, called damages. There is nothing controversial about this. The amount of compensation will depend on the severity of your distress as well as the cost of medical treatment and lost wages.

In the second situation, you can sue a doctor for either negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED) or intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED). These are legal causes of action that do not require any physical injury; the emotional distress is sufficient. However, the distress must be severe and not temporary.

How to Sue a Doctor for Emotional Distress

As an injured patient, you are not expected to know which cause of action to bring. Let your attorney handle the legal issues and identify the best way to obtain compensation.

However, you can help bolster your case by carefully documenting your emotional distress, such as:

  • Keep track of all money spent treating the distress, such as therapist bills and prescription drug costs.
  • If you miss work, carefully document how much money you have lost.
  • Record how you are feeling on a day to day basis. Are you depressed? Did you not sleep or eat because of your distress? Are you manifesting other symptoms, like high blood pressure?

You might also need friends or close family members to testify on your behalf about how your personality and/or mood has changed as a result of the doctor’s errors. You should discuss what other evidence is helpful with your attorney.

Discuss Your Case with a Greenville Medical Malpractice Attorney

Has a doctor’s mistake caused severe depression, anxiety, or other emotional distress? If so, you might be able to sue for compensation. At Dawson & Albritton, we work closely with our clients to bring the strongest legal claims possible, and we have an impressive track record of success. Please reach out to us today.

We offer a free consultation to those who contact us. North Carolina gives injured patients a narrow window of time to bring a lawsuit, and delay could harm your case. Please contact us today.

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