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Suing a Hospital for Emotional Distress

suing a hospital for emotional distress

When you receive improper medical care, it can severely impact your health, including both your physical and mental health. If you have suffered from emotional injuries as a result of negligent medical care, you may be able to receive compensation through a medical malpractice lawsuit. However, suing a hospital for emotional distress can be fraught with challenges, making the help of an experienced medical malpractice lawyer invaluable for your case.

At TLF: The Medical Injury Law Firm, our Northern Kentucky and Ohio hospital neglect attorneys can evaluate your claim, gather evidence on your behalf, and pursue justice for you and your family, ensuring that the negligent parties are held accountable for their actions. 

We’re committed to advocating for your rights and holding hospitals accountable for their actions. Call us toll-free at (800) 698-4054 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with an attorney on our team today. 

What is Emotional Distress?

Emotional distress refers to the psychological suffering experienced by an individual due to a traumatic event or negligent actions of another party, such as a hospital or medical professional. In the context of medical malpractice, emotional distress can include anxiety, depression, fear, loss of enjoyment of life, and other mental health issues resulting from the harm caused by the healthcare provider’s negligence. 

Emotional distress damages are considered alongside physical injuries and are part of the compensation sought in legal claims for medical malpractice.

Can You Sue a Hospital for Emotional Distress?

Yes, you can sue a hospital for emotional distress if you can demonstrate that the emotional distress or mental anguish was caused by the hospital’s negligence or intentional misconduct. In cases of medical malpractice, this could involve errors in treatment, misdiagnosis, or inadequate care that directly leads to emotional harm. 

However, while you can technically sue for psychological injuries alone, most successful we pursue also involve physical injuries as a result of the same medical error, or as a result of the psychological or psychiatric disorder you obtained after the negligent act. 

The Cincinnati and Covington medical malpractice lawyers at TLF can help determine whether or not you are eligible for an emotional distress medical malpractice claim.

can you sue for emotional distress

Grounds to Sue for Emotional Distress

In a medical malpractice case, you can typically sue for emotional distress if you can show that the healthcare provider’s negligence directly caused significant psychological harm. A medical professional or hospital can be deemed “negligent” if they commit a breach of medical duty, or fail to provide you with the minimum standard of care.

This harm could result from a variety of factors, such as a missed or delayed diagnosis that led to worsening health conditions or inadequate treatment, including things like medication errors or surgical errors, that exacerbated physical or mental suffering.

Again, it’s important to note that you may not be able to sue solely for emotional distress unless you have suffered from some type of physical harm as a direct result of the medical malpractice, or from the resulting emotional distress you suffered from as a result of the malpractice.

Intentional vs. Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress

Medical professionals can inflict emotional distress upon patients in two ways: intentionally or negligently. Below are the definitions as well as examples of how they could apply to a medical malpractice claim. 

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

Intentional infliction of emotional distress occurs when someone deliberately engages in extreme and outrageous conduct that intentionally or recklessly causes severe emotional distress to another person.  This typically goes beyond mere negligence and often involves malicious or purposeful actions. 

For example, if a medical professional verbally berates a patient or their family member during a medical procedure, it could cause the patient significant emotional distress. Additionally, if a healthcare provider sexually abuses a patient, it could constitute as an act of intentional infliction of emotional distress, due to the severe emotional stress and mental anguish that sexual abuse can cause. 

Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress

Negligent infliction of emotional distress, on the other hand, arises when someone’s negligent actions or failure to act responsibly results in emotional harm to another person. In this context, the negligent party may not have intended to cause emotional distress but did so due to their careless or reckless behavior. 

For example, let’s say a medical professional mistakenly tells a patient that they have a life-threatening illness when in fact the patient does not. This alone can cause the patient and their family to suffer from serious psychological injury until the error is corrected or in some cases, for the rest of their life. Not to mention the potential damage caused by the treatment they received for the illness they never had.

suing for emotional distress

Examples of Emotional Distress in Medical Malpractice Cases

Due to the trauma and emotional impact of negligent medical care, victims may suffer from a variety of emotional states and mental health conditions, including: 

  • Severe anxiety and depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Flashbacks
  • Fear of medical procedures or treatment
  • Loss of trust in healthcare providers
  • Grief and mourning
  • Humiliation and embarrassment
  • Impact on relationships
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Cognitive and behavioral changes
  • Adjustment disorders

If you receive any of the above medical diagnoses and require medical treatment or other intervention related to these diagnoses, it could be used as evidence in your emotional distress case and help strengthen your claims.

How To Sue a Hospital for Emotional Distress

To sue a hospital for emotional distress, you need to prove that the hospital owed you a duty of care, meaning they had a responsibility to provide you with competent medical treatment. Then, you need to prove that the hospital personnel failed to provide you with the minimum standard of medical care that you were owed. 

Normally, a hospital will breach this duty through negligent actions or errors, whether through misdiagnosis, surgical mistakes, medication errors, or inadequate care. From there, you must prove that you have suffered severe emotional distress as a result of the hospital’s negligence. There must be clear evidence that proves the hospital’s negligence had a substantial and observable impact on your mental health and/or emotional well-being. 

Additionally, you may also need to prove that you suffered from physical injuries as well as psychological trauma as a result of the same act of negligence.

How Can You Prove Emotional Distress Occurred?

In order to prove emotional distress, you’ll need to provide evidence that demonstrates the severity and impact of the distress you experienced. This can be achieved through various means, including medical records, expert testimony from mental health professionals, and personal testimony from yourself or family members.

If you have received a clinical diagnosis of a mental health condition following the negligent act, that could also help prove that your emotional trauma was a direct result of the medical negligence. Additionally, documentation of behavioral changes, like sleep disturbances, anxiety attacks, or depressive symptoms, can bolster the case. 

The goal is to establish clear and compelling evidence that illustrates the direct link between the hospital’s negligence and your emotional distress. An experienced Kentucky or Ohio personal injury attorney can help prove the full extent of your losses and damages. 

emotional damage

What Can You Sue for in an Emotional Distress Claim?

In an emotional distress claim, you can typically sue for various types of damages. These may include compensation for the pain and suffering endured due to the emotional distress, including anxiety, depression, and other psychological symptoms that you suffered as a result of the intentional act or medical mistake.

Additionally, you can seek damages for any related medical bills incurred, such as therapy or mental health counseling costs, or for any physical injuries you suffered. Lost wages or diminished earning capacity may also be claimed, especially if the injury and/or emotional suffering prevented you from returning from work.

Other Potential Non-Economic Damages

In addition to compensation for emotional pain, you may also be able to seek compensation for other non-economic damages, such as:

  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of consortium
  • Permanent disfigurement
  • Inconvenience

Most medical negligence cases are the result of serious, life-altering injuries caused by medical negligence, which can negatively impact multiple aspects of your life. If you have suffered from emotional distress as a result of hospital negligence, it’s important to seek financial compensation for all of your economic and non-economic damages. Our experienced Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati medical malpractice lawyers at TLF can help you in your fight for maximum financial compensation.

Statute of Limitations for Suing a Hospital

The statute of limitations for suing a hospital determines how long you have to file a legal claim after the alleged harm or injury happened. Failing to file within the statute of limitations may bar you from seeking compensation for your losses. 

The statute of limitations for a given type of case may vary from state to state, so it’s important to know the statute of limitations that’s applicable to your specific medical malpractice case. 

Kentucky Medical Malpractice Claim Statute of Limitations

In Kentucky, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases is generally one year from the date the alleged malpractice occurred or from the date the patient discovers (or should have discovered) the injury or harm caused by the malpractice. If you have suffered from emotional distress caused by medical malpractice, it’s important that you act fast so that you preserve your ability to file a claim. 

Ohio Medical Malpractice Claim Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations for medical malpractice lawsuits in Ohio is also normally one year from the date of the alleged malpractice. It also extends to one year from the date the patient discovers, or reasonably should have discovered, the injury, or from when the doctor/patient relationship is terminated. 

How an Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney Can Help

If you are suing a hospital for emotional distress, one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your case is to hire an experienced medical malpractice attorney. They can guide you throughout the legal process and help you file your emotional distress lawsuit. 

Your attorney will begin by assessing the viability of your claim and gathering evidence to establish the hospital or healthcare provider’s negligence, linking it to the emotional distress and/or physical injury you’ve suffered. They’ll also be able to illustrate the extent of the losses you suffered, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering damages, and more.

An experienced medical malpractice attorney will also be able to negotiate with the opposing party in order to help secure a fair and favorable settlement. If they can’t, then they may be able to represent you in court, fighting on your behalf and ensuring you receive the best possible outcome for your case.

Many personal injury attorneys turn away from most medical malpractice claims due to how difficult they can be, so it’s important to find a law firm that focuses on and has experience in medical malpractice cases, like the attorneys here at TLF: The Medical Injury Law Firm. Our medical malpractice lawyers have decades of experience handling personal injury, medical malpractice, and emotional distress cases throughout Northern Kentucky and Southwest Ohio. 

mental anguish

Call the Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati Medical Malpractice Attorneys at TLF Today

If you or a loved one have suffered from emotional distress damages and physical injury as a result of hospital or medical professional malpractice in Kentucky or Ohio, the dedicated team at TLF: The Medical Injury Law Firm is here to help. We can help you file a medical malpractice lawsuit to recover compensation for your losses and hold the responsible parties accountable. 

We recognize the impact that medical negligence can have on your life, including the profound emotional distress it may cause, and we are dedicated to providing you with the legal support you need in this difficult time. Call our law office toll-free at (800) 698-4054 to schedule your free consultation with us today. You can also reach our Covington, KY office at (859) 578-9130, our Cincinnati, OH office at (513) 651-4130, or you can fill out our online contact form to get in touch. 


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We are happy to offer a free consultation to evaluate your case. If you hire us as your legal counsel, we will represent you on a contingency-fee basis. You will pay no attorneys’ fees unless we recover financial damages.