Can I Sue a Psychologist for Malpractice? By Foley Law Firm on November 30, 2023

A distraught individual

When people go to a doctor, they have the right to expect the same degree of care they would receive from any similarly trained medical professional; this is the accepted standard of care. While therapists and psychologists do not have the same schooling as medical doctors, they must deliver care that meets the accepted professional standard.

When a psychologist is negligent in their care, patients or their loved ones may suffer. The medical malpractice lawyers at the Foley Law Firm, which serves Scranton, Stroudsburg, and Wilkes-Barre, PA, help individuals consider if they can sue a psychologist for medical malpractice based on the details of their situation.

What Role Does a Psychologist Play?

Many people get psychologists and psychiatrists mixed up or mistakenly believe that they have the same duties. Although psychologists can go to school to earn a doctorate, they are not medical doctors. Psychologists do not have the authority or training to diagnose physical conditions, prescribe medication, or serve as a patient’s primary care physician for mental health.

Psychologists often work alongside psychiatrists, but their role is different. Psychologists provide counseling and “talk therapy” to assist patients living with mental health problems, including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Personality disorders
  • Substance abuse disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Sleep disorders

How Can A Psychologist Cause Damage?

A psychologist can have a significant effect on a person’s mental and emotional well-being. Just like medical doctors, they must uphold professional standards and adhere to professional guidelines that keep their patients’ best interests at heart. A failure to do so can result in a patient harming themselves or others. Examples of psychologist malpractice include:

  • Failure to recognize suicidal tendencies
  • Providing medical advice outside their realm of training (making medication recommendations, suggesting dosage changes, etc.)
  • Engaging in a sexual or otherwise inappropriate relationship with a patient
  • Physical, emotional, or verbal abuse of a patient

Can I Sue My Psychologist?

A patient can sue a psychologist for malpractice provided they can establish the four elements of a professional malpractice claim.

  1. The psychologist had a duty of care to the plaintiff
  2. The psychologist breached their duty of care
  3. The breach of duty caused injury or harm to the patient
  4. The plaintiff suffered economic or non-economic losses

What Types of Damages Am I Due?

Victims of professional malpractice have the right to pursue compensation for economic and non-economic losses. The types of damages that may be awarded in a professional malpractice claim depend on the losses suffered by the plaintiff. Common types of compensatory damages in these kinds of cases include:

  • Medical expenses (past and anticipated future expenses)
  • Lost wages or diminished wage-earning capacity
  • Physical and mental pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Punitive damages (may be awarded in cases where the defendant exhibits reckless behavior or extreme disregard for the safety of others)

Contact Us

You or a loved one may be due compensatory damages if you have suffered physical, emotional, or financial damages related to psychologist malpractice. To discuss your case with the medical malpractice lawyers at Foley Law Firm, send us a message and request a consultation at your earliest convenience.

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