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Therapist Malpractice Lawyers

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What is Therapist Malpractice?

Therapist malpractice is any departure from the accepted standards of therapy that results in an injury to the patient.  If a therapist acts in a way that falls below the standard of care used by an average therapist, he may be guilty of therapist malpractice. 

There are different kinds of malpractice charges, but each must stem from a foundation of the therapist’s failure to achieve a duty of care. Negligence charges have specific elements: duty of care, breach of the duty of care, injury, and causation.

A therapist has a duty of care to a patient. If that duty is breached, and the patient suffers injury, a malpractice suit can result.

How Can I Prove I am a Victim of Therapist Malpractice?

To prove that you have been a victim of therapist malpractice, you must be able to show several things:

  • You must be able to show that an ordinary reasonable therapist would have acted with more care than your therapist.  Oftentimes, you will need expert witnesses to establish the standard of care.
  • You must show that you suffered some injury.  Even if a therapist acted in a way that was below the standard of care, if you cannot prove that you were injured by his conduct, you cannot sue for therapist malpractice.
  • The therapist's negligent conduct caused your injury.

What Are Some Common Types of Therapist Malpractice?

Because many therapists hold very strong influence over their patients, their conduct must be particularly cautious.  A seemingly minor error in judgment can make a therapist liable for malpractice. Some of the most common ways therapists err are:

  • Making inappropriate or excessive self-disclosure
  • Using techniques without proper training
  • Deliberately misdiagnosing patients
  • Having a sexual relationship with a current or former patient
  • Failing to take adequate notes
  • Failing to take a proper history
  • Failing to consult with peers or to take the advice of peers

What Are Some Defenses to Therapist Malpractice?

If you are a therapist who has been accused of malpractice, your defense will be based on the kind of charge you are faced with.

  • For a charge regarding sexual misconduct, the best defense is being able to prove there was never physical contact, or if there was, that it was short and supportive, and related to treatment rather than sexual or suggestive.
  • For a charge regarding negligent practice, it can help to show that the therapist was fully trained, educated, and qualified for the practice he or she used in treatment on the patient.
  • Trying out controversial methods of therapy or methods in which the therapist has acted unilaterally without peer advice could lead to malpractice charges. Proving that the therapist was fully trained to provide such treatment is a strong defense.
  • Notes and documents related to a patient’s therapeutic history could be very helpful in proving that the therapist exercised good judgment, and this helps in a defense against malpractice.
  • Notes give the judge or jury information on what occurred during the session. Using notes to offset or disprove negligence allegations will help in a therapist’s defense against malpractice charges.

Should I Consult a Lawyer?

If you think that you are a victim of therapist malpractice, you may want to consult a malpractice lawyer to learn more about your rights.  Malpractice cases can be tricky and an experienced malpractice lawyer can help you determine if you have a strong case.  If necessary, a malpractice lawyer can represent you in court and ensure your rights are protected.

Photo of page author Danielle Winterton

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 06-04-2017 11:30 PM PDT

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