Medical Malpractice Lawsuit For Emotional Distress Without Physical Harm

Each individual case of Illinois medical malpractice presents a range of unique legal issues. In most cases, medical malpractice is essentially rooted in the civil claim for negligence-alleging that another community member did not act reasonably which caused their harm. In a general sense, this is the same whether the negligent party is a doctor, nurse, taxi driver, construction worker, or anyone else. Yet, when medical errors are involved there are often a few legal complications involved that are not present in other negligence situations-like expert witnesses-but the basic legal principles are the same.

However, as a new story in Medical Daily explains, depending on the unique situation, legal claims beyond negligence may be implicated following poor medical care. For example, the story discusses the rare situation where a suit is filed against a doctor for emotional distress, even where there is no physical harm. Each Chicago medical malpractice lawyer at our firm was interested to read about the case which involves a mother who sued her doctor for failing to prepare her for the mental and emotional shock of her newborn’s birth deformities.

In this particular case the mother filed the suit against her doctor in 2005, claiming both negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The doctor performed an ultrasound on the child and told the mother that the results were normal without any abnormalities. However, when the child was actually born he had a range of deformities. The baby did not have arms below the elbows or legs below the knees. He had an accessory tongue, delayed jaw growth, an umbilical hernia, and a ventral curvature of the penis. The effect of seeing her son for the first time without any warning about his unique disabilities threw the mother into shock. She explains that she suffered from severe emotional and mental distress in the aftermath of the birth.

The defense lawyers challenged the emotional distress claims, because it was unclear if the law allowed patients to file suit for purely emotional harm. However, an appellate court ruling in the state just affirmed the patient’s right. The attorney representing the plaintiff explained that the opinion was consistent with other rulings. In addition, he summarized that “where the specific professional responsibility of an attending physician is to convey accurate information, then failure to do so can give rise to liability if the physician’s breach results in unusual and extreme emotional distress on the part of the plaintiff.”

It is unclear how this latest appellate court ruling will affect future cases in the state against doctors. The law surrounding medical malpractice changes over time as societies adapt, rulings are shifted, and the world changes. Our Illinois medical malpractice attorneys closely follow all legal trends in this area for that reason-to ensure that clients are appraised of every option in front of them. When you may have been hurt in any way by the misconduct of your medical professionals, ensure that you visit with an experienced legal professional to learn about the potential legal ramifications of your situation.

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