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Medical Malpractice Cases Involving Emotional Trauma without Physical Injury - Are They Appropriate For an Attorney?

Waste of Time for an Attorney

In any medical malpractice or accident case, physical injuries are a valid basis for claiming damages and attorneys are usually willing to handle such cases. But when a client claims mental and emotional trauma without any physical injuries, it is a waste of time for the medical malpractice attorney. Many legal experts recommend that lawyers stay away from such cases.

A claim of emotional trauma or injuries, without any physical due to the wrongdoing of a doctor or hospital, may not even lead to acceptance of medical malpractice case, according to experts.

It is imperative that lawyers avoid taking up such cases, because historically, clients who claim emotional trauma tend to have a lot of emotional baggage and are likely to create a lot of drama. This would aggravate the lawyer and is one of the reasons why experienced trial attorneys do not touch these types of cases.

Opening the Pandora's Box

The client may have valid reasons for claiming emotional trauma but, for the lawyers concerned, it becomes very difficult to figure out what harm exactly the injury or malpractice caused. They would need to filter out the trauma that the client currently has, and separate this from their past problems. If the client has a previous history of psychiatric problems, or has been hospitalized for the same, there would be a considerable amount of records that require scrutiny. In addition, the patient's history needs to be researched and evaluated, thereby opening up a Pandora's Box.

Suicide is an Exception

The only exception to this would be cases of suicide. An instance would be where a patient is admitted in a hospital and has suicidal tendencies. The doctors may declare that the patient has been treated and cured, and discharge the patient. If the patient after some days, commits suicide, the medical malpractice attorneys have a valid case where they can look back and evaluate whether releasing the patient at that time was appropriate.

They can question if there were warning signs or indications present that the patient had ongoing psychiatric problems that needed further evaluation, diagnosis or treatment, and can show that the hospital or the medical caregiver improperly released the patient, thereby causing the death of the person. Such cases, according to trial experts, would be appropriate and possibly lucrative cases to accept.

Obligations of the Attorney

Even when medical malpractice attorneys refuse to accept a case that involves emotional and mental trauma without physical injury, they are obligated under New York law, to inform the client of the same. The lawyer has to send the client a non-obligation letter declining the matter. The law requires that a regular mail letter, together with a certified mail copy with request of a return receipt, should be sent to person trying to make this request.

In such a letter, the attorney has to inform the client that he or she is not able to help, and is not making a judgment call on whether or not the client's case has a valid basis. The lawyer must also state in this letter that the client can consult another lawyer immediately to attain another opinion. These two statements when put down in a certified mail copy, protects the lawyer against any further complications.

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