If you or a loved one was abused by a medical professional, you are likely to be traumatized and unsure of how to proceed. During this difficult time, it is important to understand your legal options and what legal avenues might be available to you.
While sexual abuse is a crime, an illegal and malicious act could also give rise to a civil lawsuit. These claims—often made against physicians, dentists, and psychologists—are pursued by the affected party and look to provide compensation for their losses.
However, the civil process to pursue this compensation is often complex, requiring extensive knowledge of the law and how to present evidence and demonstrate fault. A Michigan lawyer who is well-practiced in doctor sexual abuse claims could help. By explaining your rights and answering your questions, a legal professional could be a valuable ally through each step of the ensuing legal process.
What Constitutes Sexual Abuse for a Medical Professional?
For medical professionals, sexual abuse could be verbal or physical acts. This might include expressions of thoughts and feelings, or gestures that are sexual—or that may be interepted by a patient as sexual—in nature.
Sexual abuse by a medical professional is an extreme breach of trust, medical ethics, Michigan law, and federal law. This holds true even if the act was consensual. A Michigan lawyer who is familiar with sexual abuse claims involving doctors could help to explain these state laws in-depth to a potential claimant.
In a civil lawsuit, it is essential to prove that a sexual relationship or sexual abuse occurred between the claimant and their doctor. Many times, there is no physical evidence to prove that this happened and, due to the nature of many doctor-patient visits, there are often no eyewitnesses to these acts.
As a result, these cases might quickly become a “he said, she said” battle between the two sides—meaning the credibility of each party is a big factor in determining what actually happened. Often, however, there might have been similar complaints about a doctor by other patients which might help to bolster a claim. Furthermore, any physical evidence that does exist could prove to be vital. A tenacious lawyer in Michigan could work to investigate the circumstances of a doctor’s sexual abuse and try to gather evidence that supports a claim.
The Deadlines for Taking Legal Action
Because of the traumatic nature of any form of abuse, molestation, or sexual mistreatment, many victims do not report the incident or come forward soon after it has occurred—if at all. However, it is important for anyone considering legal action to be aware of the state’s statute of limitations for when a claim can be heard.
Pursuant to Michigan Compiled Laws § 600.5805, there is a two-year deadline for taking legal action against a doctor for a claim of medical negligence. For sexual abuse involving a minor, the period can be extended to the victim’s 28th birthday in certain situations. These deadlines also apply to the employer of the abusive physician, such as a medical practice, clinic, hospital, or university.
By reaching out to a skillful attorney as soon as possible, a claimant might increase their chances of filing a timely claim that satisfies this deadline, as well as to preserve potentially vital evidence.
Damages Arising from a Claim
Due to the severe nature of sexual abuse claims, the damages that can be requested are often significant. Of course, the specific forms of compensation sought by a plaintiff will depend on the specifics of each case.
These damages might include non-economic damages—such as emotional distress, post-traumatic stress disorder, and loss of enjoyment of life—and can also include significant economic damages, including ongoing therapy and medication needs, a loss of earning capacity, wage loss, and loss of services.
In addition, the patient’s spouse may have his or her own claim for loss of society, companionship, and consortium, as well as the disruption of the family. While some damages might have definitive pay stubs, others are more difficult to calculate. By working with a well-versed Michigan attorney, a claimant could have legal help to calculate the extent of their losses following a medical professional’s sexual abuse.
Call a Michigan Doctor Sexual Abuse Attorney for Legal Help
As a patient or parent, people expect medical professionals to treat them or their children with care and respect. Unfortunately, numerous types of sexual abuse at the hands of a doctor are unfortunately common throughout the state and can have a long-lasting and devastating impact on a person’s physical, emotional, and even financial wellbeing.
While a criminal case might be pursued, a person might wish to take legal action through a civil lawsuit with the help of a Michigan doctor sexual abuse lawyer. By reaching out to a compassionate attorney at Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C., you could rest assured that a legal professional is working to request the compensation you deserve. Call today to schedule a consultation.
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