When a Therapist Is Negligent

ELI5: Negligence

During the COVID-19 pandemic, therapists saw a surge of clients looking for mental health care. Unfortunately, many practices had to turn potential clients away because they did not have enough therapists available to take on new clients. Because of this, many people made appointments with therapists not based on qualifications, but based on availability. Due to the shortage, some people have signed up for therapists that were not the best fit for them, or may have not possessed the necessary qualifications. This has left many people wondering, when a therapist has caused you harm, who is liable?


When a therapist has caused you harm, you may have a medical malpractice case if the therapist has acted unreasonably. When it comes to providing therapy, therapists are held up to the standard of other reasonable therapists, and what’s called the “standard of care.” This means that when investigating whether or not malpractice occurred, the court is going to view the therapist’s conduct against the conduct of other therapists. However, it’s important to note that a bad experience does not necessarily constitute malpractice. A client can have a bad experience with a therapist even when the therapist has acted reasonably.


Medical malpractice cases can be a little more straightforward than other negligence-based lawsuits. This is because the duty of care is already established: your therapist already has an established legal duty toward you as your mental health care provider. In order to have a successful medical malpractice claim, you will need to prove that your therapist breached that duty. Then, you will have to prove that there were damages. Finally, you will have to prove that the breach in duty has directly caused or contributed to your damages. This means that you will need to prove that you would not have the emotional or physical damages, but for the actions of your therapist. Due to the nature of therapy, proving that your therapist was negligent can be difficult.


Undue influence occurs when a person in a position of power or responsibility influences a vulnerable person to do something that the vulnerable person wouldn’t normally or otherwise do. For example, if your therapist is part of an MLM that sells cosmetic products, and your therapist tells you that these products will cure your mental illness, and you purchase them solely because of what your therapist told you, that may be considered undue influence. Proving undue influence is easier when the person exerting the influence is in a position of trust, the person being influenced does not have the capacity to evaluate the proposition, and the influencer disproportionately benefits from the proposition.


Therapeutic practices are responsible for ensuring that their therapists have the proper education and licenses needed to engage in therapy. If a practice hired a therapist who lied about—or forged—their education, licenses, or work history, the practice may have hired the therapist negligently. Therapeutic practices can also be liable for negligently supervising a therapist who isn’t doing their job correctly or ethically.


It can be difficult for victims of a negligent therapist to prove medical malpractice. Due to the confidential nature of the relationship, a lot of evidence comes down to the therapist’s word versus the client’s word. If your therapist’s negligence has resulted in your injury, Moxie Law Group is here for you. Our experienced team is committed to fighting for the maximum compensation every time. If you need the best Salt Lake City medical malpractice attorney, call Moxie Law Group for a free consultation.

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