In CALIFORNIA, the field of medical malpractice includes suits against "health care providers" which seems to be an ever growing group of people and entities... while the obvious types are includes such as physicians, hospitals, psychologists, dentists, oral surgeons, and podiatrists... the list goes on to include what I like to think of as seriously alternative semi professionals... but I'll try not to comment further on that... thus, should a psychologist (PhD) or psychiatrist (M.D. or D.O.) get sued for practicing below the standard of care, the suit would be a medical malpractice suit... and, generally, attorneys who handle medical malpractice would be the type of attorneys to handle such a suit... that said... psych cases are very difficult as psych is not an area of medicine where there are nice tests that can be done to provide a correct diagnosis (such as an MRI or x-ray) and the prescription medicines used are usually used for many off label uses and have somewhat poorly understood mechanisms of action... and there are many other factors which make winning a psych case very difficult... so, while there are probably not too many lawyers who would consider themselves psych case medical malpractice lawyers, there are also not too many experienced medical malpractice lawyers that like these kinds of cases... so... what is a person supposed to do when faced with a potential psych case? Talk with lots and lots or medical malpractice lawyers understanding that many will pass before one takes the case... and if all pass, there may not be a solid case underneath it all. Oh, and like all medical malpractice cases, the statute of limitations can be as short as six months (if governmental defendant) or just one year (if private defendant) so a potential plaintiff needs to act quickly.
Paul J. Molinaro, M.D., J.D.
Attorney at Law, Physician
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You are on the right track by contacting med mal attorneys. I just googled the term psychiatric malpractice attorney and firms do come up. You may also try contacting your local attorney referral services for a referral.
You have come to the right site.....Avvo has a great "find a lawyer" tool to locate a top-rated Avvo attorney (10) with a low contingency fee, less than thirty percent, so you don't get hurt twice. Good luck.
I would recommend you broaden your search to include attorneys who handle "professional responsibility matters." These attorneys typically defend or prosecute claims made against all types of professionals, from architects and attorneys to psychiatrists. It sounds like you'll need a consumer or plaintiff oriented attorney. The issues involved in such cases (blurring, if not outright crossing of ethical boundaries, conflict of interest, breach of fiduciary duties, etc.) are very complex and interesting. Avvo has an excellent attorney-referral service and as you can see from the responses, many are in your area. Good luck.
Keep looking, I think, and broaden your search. Posting some general facts of your proposed case might help us to tell if you should even bother, honestly. All the best.
My firm specializes in cases regarding professional exploitation which includes the psychiatric field. Upon review of the facts, a lawyer can respond to you by email or on the phone. We are located in the Boston area but will consult or provide representation throughout the country depending on the circumstances.
Medical negligence cases to assert claims of psychiatric malpractice are difficult because the client typically wants a contingent fee agreement rather than an hourly, the cases are extremely time-consuming for the practitioner, and the medical damages are difficult to evaluate.
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