Psychiatric malpractice is the legal term for a claim against a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist, for injuries sustained as the result of their negligence. Like other types of medical malpractice, psychiatric malpractice can occur when a mental health professional deviates from the standard of care in their field, resulting in injury to their patient. If you have been injured as the result of psychiatric malpractice, you may be wondering if you have a case. Here’s what you need to know about psychiatric malpractice in Tennessee.
Important Elements of a Psychiatric Malpractice Case
The first thing to understand about psychiatric malpractice is that it is governed by the same laws as other types of medical malpractice. This means that to bring a successful claim, you will need to prove that the mental health professional owed you a duty of care, breached that duty and that your injuries were caused by their breach.
In most cases, the duty of care is established simply because you were receiving treatment from a mental health professional. In some cases, however, it may be necessary to show that the mental health professional had a special relationship with you that gave rise to a duty of care. For example, if you were seeing a psychiatrist for treatment of severe depression and he knew that you were contemplating suicide, he may have a duty to take reasonable steps to prevent you from harming yourself.
Once the duty of care has been established, you will need to show that the mental health professional breached that duty through some act of negligence. Again, this will typically be proven by showing that the professional failed to meet the standard of care in their field. To do this, your attorney will likely retain experts who can testify as to what the standard of care is and how the defendant failed to meet it.
Finally, you will need to show that your injuries were caused by the defendant’s breach of duty. In other words, but for the defendant’s negligence, you would not have been injured. This can sometimes be difficult to prove in psychiatric malpractice cases because oftentimes there are other factors at play in a person’s mental health. However, if it can be shown that your injury was directly caused by the defendant’s negligence—for example, if you attempted suicide because your therapist failed to properly treat your depression—you may be able to recover damages for your injuries.
If you or someone you love has been injured as the result of medical malpractice, it’s important to understand your rights and options under the law. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can evaluate your case and help determine whether you have grounds for a claim.