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Negligence in Behavioral Health Facilities FAQs

When dealing with the complexities of medical malpractice, particularly negligence in behavioral health facilities, it is essential to understand your rights and how to enforce them. These frequently asked questions aim to clarify some of the common questions we are asked by clients.

What is negligence in behavioral health facilities?

Negligence in inpatient behavioral health facilities refers to situations where the facility, or its staff, fails to meet the legal standard of care, leading to physical or mental harm to the patient. The level of care required by law is the care that a reasonable behavioral health facility would provide under similar circumstances. This could include failure to prevent self-harm, inadequate supervision, improper medication administration, or neglect of basic needs. 

What are common examples of negligence in behavioral health facilities?

Negligence in these facilities can take many forms, including medication errors, failure to prevent self-harm, ignoring or minimizing symptoms, and inadequate supervision. In some cases, basic needs such as food, sleep, or hygiene may be neglected. Sometimes these failures are a result of understaffing or employing underqualified staff. Sadly, some patients are also victims of abuse in mental health facilities that could have been prevented with proper staffing and supervision.

Can a failure to prevent self-harm in an inpatient facility be considered negligence?

Yes, if a behavioral health facility fails to take reasonable steps to prevent self-harm when there is a known risk, and this leads to harm or worsening of the patient's condition, it could be grounds for a negligence claim.

Can I sue a behavioral health facility for negligence?

Yes, if a residential behavioral health facility makes serious errors that lead to harm or worsening of the patient's condition, it may be possible to sue for negligence. If you think that you or a family member may have been a victim of medical negligence at an inpatient mental health facility, you should contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney for advice on your particular situation.

What do I have to prove to win a negligence claim against a mental health facility?

To establish a successful claim for negligence, you technically need to prove that the facility owed you a duty of care, that duty was breached, the breach caused your injury, and as a result, you suffered damages. Your lawyer will help you to understand what each of these technical terms mean, but, generally you have to prove that the facility fell below an acceptable standard of care and that you, the patient, were harmed as a result.

What compensation can I be awarded in a case against a negligent mental health facility?

The compensation available to victims of negligence in behavioral health facilities should cover all losses, past and future, that the victim has suffered as result of the negligence. This could include medical expenses, lost wages, and non-economic damages, known as pain and suffering. Compensable medical expenses and lost wages cover the additional treatments, expenses, and losses that you suffer due to the negligence but will not cover any expenses that you were already incurring for your treatment at the facility.

Each case is unique, so the exact compensation will depend on the specifics of your situation. Your lawyer can advise you on the amount of compensation that has been awarded in similar cases but they can never guarantee a level of compensation.

Is there a deadline for filing a lawsuit against a negligent behavioral health facility?

Yes, there are time limits, known as statutes of limitations, which differ by state. In Delaware and Pennsylvania, you generally have 2 years from the date of the malpractice to file a lawsuit, In Maryland, the deadline is typically 3 years depending on the specifics of the case. You should consult with a reputable medical malpractice attorney to understand the time frame for your case.

How long will a legal claim against a negligent behavioral health facility take?

The duration of a legal claim for medical malpractice varies widely depending on the complexity of the case, the parties involved, and practical delays to the legal process. Some cases may be resolved in a matter of months, while more complex ones can take several years.

How can a medical malpractice lawyer help in cases of behavioral health negligence?

A medical malpractice lawyer, like the attorneys at Morris James, can help victims to hold negligent facilities accountable and get compensation for their physical, emotional, and financial damages. Your attorney will advise you on the strength of your claim and your options, assist you in communicating with the defendant healthcare facility and their insurer, prepare and file a claim within legal deadlines, gather evidence, and present your case at trial, if necessary.

How much will a lawyer cost for a claim against a negligent behavioral health facility?

The medical malpractice lawyers at Morris James work on a contingency fee basis, which means you only pay us if we win or settle your case. While many personal injury lawyers will take your case on a contingency basis, it is important to discuss fees and other out-of-pocket costs with any lawyer you consider hiring so that you understand their fees policy.

Why should I choose Morris James to represent me?

Our firm brings years of experience in medical malpractice and a proven track record of representing victims of medical malpractice across Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland. Our medical malpractice attorneys know the strategies that lawyers and insurance companies use to try to overwhelm injured plaintiffs, and we know how to combat them. We are committed to fighting to hold the facilities that have harmed you or your loved ones accountable, and to get you the justice and compensation you deserve.

At Morris James, our attorneys have been standing up for victims since we opened our doors in 1932. If you have questions about negligence at behavioral health facilities, contact us online or call us at 302.655.2599 to speak to one of our experienced medical malpractice attorneys.

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