DOCTOR SEXUAL ABUSE LAWSUIT
Houston Attorneys Filing Doctor Sexual Assault Lawsuits
What many people don’t realize is that sexual abuse occurs in many different places, and comes in many different forms. Unfortunately, it is also more common than many people think, as a lot of victims fear speaking out. This is especially true when a victim has endured sexual misconduct from a prominent member of society, such as a medical professional. If you have suffered doctor sexual abuse at the hands of a physician, do not hesitate to file a sexual assault claim.
Even a doctor can commit sexual abuse, and as an abuser, they should be held accountable for their actions. Victims of abuse and sexual harassment have the right to file a civil lawsuit against their abuser for the harm they suffered. If you have been sexually assaulted or abused by a doctor or other medical professional, the personal injury law firm of Reich & Binstock is here for you. To schedule your free consultation with one of our nationally-recognized sexual abuse lawyers, call our office today at 713-622-7271.
Medical Professional Sexual Abuse and Harassment Claims
When someone goes to the doctor, they expect to receive nothing but the best care for their injuries, illnesses, or just for routine check ups. They also expect professionalism and respect from their providers. That’s not too much to ask for, right? Unfortunately, some medical professionals still cross the boundary of what is and is not acceptable conduct with a patient.
Despite the regulations in place that prohibit any form of sexual relationship between a doctor and their patients, some physicians ignore these regulations. The National Library of Medicine published an article exploring why doctor sexual abuse cases have remained such a persistent problem in the United States.
In a 2016 analysis from the National Practitioner Data Bank, a total of 974 disciplinary actions were taken against physicians for sexual misconduct. These actions were taken over a period of time spanning from January 2003 to September 2013. A comparative analysis of disciplinary actions by medical licensing authorities in Canada shows that their rates of discipline are 2.6 times higher than U.S. disciplinary rates. This does not suggest that sexual assault from physicians is more common in Canada. Rather, it suggests that the rate of disciplinary action in the U.S. is much lower.
Examples of Doctor Sexual Abuse
In a class action lawsuit, over 60 women alleged that former Brigham and Women’s Hospital rheumatologist, Derrick Todd, performed unnecessary medical exams on them for his own sexual gratification. Charles Morris was the chief medical officer at Brigham at the time. The lawsuit also names Charles River Medical Associates. Andrew Meyer is one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs.
Robert Hadden, a former Columbia University gynecologist, faced indictment for six federal charges. The charges were related to the alleged sexual assault of multiple female patients in the 1990’s.
Why Does Sexual Abuse Occur in the Medical Field?
The big question of why sexual mistreatment of patients by doctors has been allowed to remain a problem in the medical setting of the United States. One study aims to point out the factors that allow this serious problem to persist. First, they claim that the number of doctor sexual abuse cases is actually much higher, as many go unreported.
Many victims of sexual abuse feel guilt, shame, confusion, shock, and disbelief over what happened to them. They may even fear that others won’t believe them if they speak up. There is a significant imbalance of power between physicians and their patients, which may make it difficult or undesirable for victims to publicly speak out.
Secondly, the Federation of State Medical Boards claims that many health care offices and hospitals fail to report physicians as they should. In fact, FSMB states that they routinely ignore or find a way around reporting these physicians.
Thirdly, many medical boards do not act on complaints of a physician’s sexual abuse, particularly when no physical evidence exists and when there are no witnesses. One report from 2006 states that only 1.5% of all complaints to medical boards actually reach a formal hearing. Approximately two-thirds of all complaints were also closed due to a lack of sufficient evidence, or because the complaints were resolved another way.
Lastly, when medical boards actually do formally reprimand physicians for sexual assault or sexual harassment, they are usually allowed to continue practicing medicine. One 2016 investigation found that more than half of all doctors in their investigation were still licensed to practice after they sexually assaulted or abused patients. This investigation spanned the nation and included thousands of medical board decisions to discipline physicians.
Who Can File a Sexual Assault Claim Against a Physician?
Victims of doctor sexual abuse may file civil lawsuits against the healthcare professionals who abused them. It is also possible for the victim’s family members to file a civil lawsuit on the victim’s behalf, or even anonymous complaints. Even witnesses might have the right to file a claim. Victims specifically can file a civil lawsuit if they have endured the following.
- Sexual assault
- Child sexual abuse
- Sexual harassment
- Inappropriate touching
- Statutory rape
- Indecent exposure
- Inappropriate behavior in an exam room
As we mentioned before, witnesses and family members of the victim may also file a personal injury claim. Witnesses could sue for emotional distress, while other family members could sue for loss of consortium or wrongful death.
Can I Sue a Doctor for Sexual Abuse or Harassment?
Yes. As a victim of sexual assault, you have the right to take legal action against the doctor who sexually abused you. If criminal charges are pending against that physician, you may take legal action either before or after the criminal charges are sought.
If you are the victim of a sex crime perpetrated by a physician, we recommend calling our law firm immediately. The sexual abuse attorneys at Reich & Binstock have extensive experience representing abuse victims. We will evaluate the facts of your case and advise you on how to proceed during your free consultation with us.
Who Is Liable in a Doctor Sexual Assault Lawsuit?
Obviously, the abusive doctors and medical providers will be held accountable for their actions in a civil lawsuit. However, other parties could also be held accountable for that physician’s actions. In some cases, the doctor’s employer could be held liable through vicarious liability. Vicarious liability is a legal term that implicates a third party for the actions of another when a lawsuit or criminal case arises. For example, when a doctor who works at a hospital is sued, the hospital may also be implicated in the lawsuit as the doctor’s employer.
When victims pursue compensation, they are unlikely to recover what they need to be made whole again if they only hold the doctor liable. However, holding their employer liable, the victim will be more likely to recover the compensation they deserve.
How Does a Doctor’s Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Affect Their Employer?
There are two major ways in which one can hold a physician’s employer accountable when pursuing legal action against the physician. The first is called negligent hiring. The second is called vicarious liability.
In a negligent hiring or negligent supervision case, the victim must show that the employer was negligent in either hiring or supervising the healthcare provider. To succeed with this type of claim, they must show the following.
- The physician was not fit to hold the position they were hired for.
- Their employer knew or should have known that the physician posed a risk to patients.
- The physician’s unsuitableness for the job was what caused your harm.
- The employer’s negligence in supervising, hiring, or retention of the doctor played a key role in the harm that the victim suffered.
An employer can also be held liable through the legal idea of vicarious liability. This comes from the Latin phrase of “respondeat superior,” which means “let the boss answer.” Basically, an employer could be held liable for the actions of their employees while they’re on the job. This tends to be a more difficult argument to succeed with.
Proving Liability in Doctor Sexual Assault Cases
In order to prove that a doctor is guilty of sexually abusing a patient, our experienced attorneys will use our years of experience to gather evidence. Many sexual acts and crimes can be difficult to prove due to the lack of physical evidence and witnesses. However, there are other forms of evidence that can be used to support your claim.
- Expert testimony that outlines the accepted standard of medical care and medical practice
- Victim’s medical records
- Psychological evaluations of the victim after the sexual assault
- Witness testimony from other healthcare professionals
- If available, video surveillance footage from the office where the sexual assault occurred
In some cases, victims may also be able to submit their clothes for DNA testing. This is particularly useful in cases where bodily fluids are involved. It can serve as a form of physical evidence against the liable party.
What Is Considered Sexual Abuse by a Medical Professional?
Many actions can qualify as sexually assaulting patients. Sexual abuse is not confined only to unwanted touching, as it also involves words, gestures, and other actions that don’t involve touching the patient. Physicians could face sexual assault lawsuits and criminal cases over the following forms of sexual abuse.
- Committing any sexual acts on patients while they are anesthetized
- Taking pictures or videos of a patient during exams of the pelvic or genital area
- Performing unnecessary pelvic or vaginal exams
- Exposing themselves in a suggestive or inappropriate way to their patients
- Making inappropriate or sexual comments to a patient (This can be considered a form of covert sexual abuse.)
- Non-consensual touching of any kind
Keep in mind that not only female patients suffer sexual abuses at the hands of physicians. Men, women, children, and adults are all potential victims of doctor sexual abuse. This form of abuse can also occur in different types of medical facilities, such as hospitals, offices, and nursing homes.
How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit Against a Doctor for Sexual Abuse?
For the most part, each civil or criminal case has a statute of limitations that must be adhered to. However, these time periods differ from state to state. In Texas, if a doctor sexually abuses a patient who is under 18 years old, that patient has 30 years from the date of their 18th birthday to file a civil claim against their abuser. If a victim of sexual assault is an adult at the time of the incident, they have 5 years from the date of the incident to pursue a civil case.
How Long Does It Take to Sue a Doctor for Sexual Abuse?
This varies depending on the facts of your individual claim. Some cases are inherently more complicated than others, so they may require more time to gather evidence, and more contention in court.
If the case is fairly straightforward, victims might be able to resolve their cases quickly with a settlement. Without understanding the details of your case, it is difficult to give an estimate of how long it will take. We recommend contacting our office to schedule a free consultation with one of our compassionate attorneys.
How Much Is My Doctor Sexual Abuse Case Worth?
This is also a difficult question to answer without fully understanding the details of your case. Simply looking for an average case value also won’t help you, as the values of individual cases vary greatly. However, depending on the severity of the abuse you suffered you can expect the potential monetary compensation to mirror it.
For example, a case in which a doctor harasses a patient will typically be worth less than a sexual assault case. Speak with our law firm to learn more about how much your case might be worth.
Damages in a Doctor Sexual Assault Case
Victims of sexual abuse deserve to recover compensation that will cover their damages and losses from the incident. Unlike criminal cases, civil cases aim to compensate the victim rather than punish the offender. Depending on the facts of your case, you may be able to recover the following forms of compensation.
- Current and future medical bills
- Current and future lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Loss of earning capacity
- Loss of consortium for family members
- Lost enjoyment of life
- Punitive damages
- Legal fees
- Any other financial losses associated with the incident
Remember that, while you fight to recover compensatory damages, the opposition will work to discredit you or offer you a lowball settlement. When you work with Reich & Binstock, we will file a lawsuit on your behalf, investigate your claim, gather evidence, and fight for a fair settlement on your behalf. We are also fully prepared to take your case to trial if you are not offered a fair settlement.
What Is the Mental Impact of Sexual Abuse by a Doctor?
Sexual abuse of a patient by a doctor is a grievous violation of medical ethics. Any form of abuse can have serious mental consequences for victims. This kind of trauma can affect both children and adults for years, possibly even the rest of their lives. Some of the mental health issues that can arise from sexual abuse include the following.
- Addiction to drugs, alcohol, or other substances or behaviors
- Changes in personality
- Difficulty forming healthy relationships with others
- Flashbacks of the incident
- Self-harm tendencies
- STDs or STIs
- Dissociative disorders
- Panic attacks
- Eating disorders
- Unwanted pregnancy
- Suicidal ideations
- Sleep disorders
In the case of STDs, we often hear the question, “Can you sue someone for giving you an STD?” The answer depends on your specific situation. We strongly recommend speaking with an attorney to learn if you qualify for a claim.
Should I Hire a Sexual Abuse Lawyer for My Case?
Many people resort to calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline in times of crisis. While this can be a good first step in seeking justice, seeking legal assistance is imperative. Sooner rather than later, we strongly recommend speaking with an attorney about your case. Reich & Binstock requires no upfront legal fees, and you don’t owe us a cent unless we secure a recovery on your behalf.
Even if the incident occurred a while ago, we may still be able to help you. We are well-acquainted with the statute of limitations, and we know exactly what it takes to pursue and win a sexual abuse lawsuit. Our experience will only serve to help you in your case. We will fight tooth and nail to ensure that your voice is heard and that all responsible parties are held accountable.
Contact an Experienced Sexual Abuse Lawyer Today
At Reich & Binstock, we don’t just take cases and work for clients. We empower survivors of sexual abuse and give them the legal firepower they need to seek compensation from their abusers. If your doctor sexually abused you or your child, you have the right to file a civil claim against that doctor.
That way, even if they don’t face criminal consequences, they will still face justice in a court of law. Our sexual assault attorneys have decades of experience advocating on behalf of victims of abuse in civil lawsuits. Let us advocate for you, too. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with us, please call our office at 713-622-7271 today.
Our firm handles several sexual abuse case types, including the following.
There is a never a fee unless we recover on your behalf.