What are my rights regarding a lawsuit for infliction of emotional distress?

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What are my rights regarding a lawsuit for infliction of emotional distress?

My 6 week old son died in march, the ER doctor was extremely cold to me. I asked why my baby had stopped breathing, what happened? His answer was short and cold, “He was never going to make it, his lungs were full of fluid, he couldn’t get any air.” He then quickly and rudely walked off. A few days later I called to ask for more details, desperate for answers, and he told me that I had killed my baby, he didn’t say I might have, he told me I killed my son. His coldness and ruthlessness in a tragic situation has contributed greatly to mental, emotional injuries. I have PTSD and severe major depressive disorder, as well as insomnia. It has since been proven that I had not rolled onto or smothered my son. Can I sue or get him fired?

Asked on May 6, 2014 under Personal Injury, Minnesota


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Sorry to hear about your son.

The initial statement by the doctor that your son's "lungs were full of fluid..." is just a diagnosis and is NOT sufficient for an emotional distress claim.

The second statement that you "killed your son" may be sufficient to support a claim of negligent infliction of emotional distress since the statement was false and exacerbated your PTSD.

It is unlikely that the doctor will be fired. 

Prior to filing a lawsuit for negligent infliction of emotional distress, it may be possible to settle the case with the doctor's insurance carrier.  Your personal injury claim filed with the doctor's insurance carrier should include your medical bills, medical reports including the reports from the psychologist or psychiatrist treating you for PTSD and documentation of any wage loss.

Compensation for the medical bills is straight reimbursement.  The medical reports will document the nature and extent of your emotional distress exacerbating your PTSD and will be used to determine compensation for pain and suffering which is an amount in addition to the medical bills.  Compensation for wage loss is straight reimbursement. 

If the case is settled with the doctor's insurance carrier, NO lawsuit is filed.  If you are dissatisfied with settlement offers from the doctor's insurance carrier, reject the settlement offers and file a lawsuit for negligent infliction of emotional distress against the doctor.  If the case is NOT settled with the insurance carrier, your lawsuit against the doctor must be filed prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or you will lose your rights forever in the matter. 

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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