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Speaking of Pain: counseling after an auto accident gone awry.

I. Serious Wreck Serious Issues

Trust is one of the most essential elements of any counseling relationship. Trust is also why, after a serious auto accident, it’s important to get help only from an experienced Charlotte auto accident lawyer. In some cases, this important connection with an auto accident injury expert will also help deal with other relationships that naturally follow a serious car wreck. In legal terms, when the “trust” relationship from a treatment professional is violated, an experienced Charlotte auto accident lawyer can help deal with these issues in what are often called “breaches of fiduciary trust.”

Linda W. was involved in a very serious auto wreck, with lifetime impairments and damages. She had wisely obtained the help of a Charlotte auto accident lawyer to deal with the myriad insurance, injury, and damages issues. For almost 7 years, Linda had been receiving assistance, including dealing with her auto injuries, by getting healthcare from a Fayetteville marital and family therapist.

II. Keep It Quiet

Counseling relationships must reflect an element of secrecy, which can allow an injured party to speak more freely. This expectation of confidence (and confidentiality) should improve treatment, while still appropriately reflecting actual conditions. If that counseling relationship, however, lets the counselor pick and choose what information to disclose, this undermines the patient’s rights. Given in private, broken confidences and the violated trust relationship can be another part of a shattering accident. Instead of treatment, the violation of confidentiality can have long lasting and damaging consequences.

An experienced Charlotte auto accident lawyer knows that treatment plans and its modalities often include psychiatric or psychological assistance, as well as mending broken bones.

In this case, the Charlotte auto accident lawyer pointed to the standard treatment forms, signed by the patients, commonly used in the counseling sessions. Those forms revealed, an experienced Charlotte auto accident lawyer was to prove in court, that at no time had Linda ever given any type of release, or what could be considered a waiver, to allow the therapist to talk about Linda’s case with anyone. Further evidence was developed by the auto accident lawyer to show Linda was particularly sensitive about disclosure to others. The possibility of having any information she shared was frightening to her. In fact, the Charlotte trial lawyer showed Linda had specifically told the counselor to never discuss any aspects of her treatment or injuries with anyone. Part of the twist in this case was how (and why) Linda had gotten treatment with two other physicians. It was true, that the counselor had made the referrals. But whereas the counselor insisted that he was trying to help Linda, Linda maintained that she had adamantly refused to allow her counselor to speak with anyone else, including these referral doctors.

III.   Keeping Doctors Mum?

Some psychologist or counselors believe that they have exclusive rights to decide what to disclose, and perhaps, when to disclose it. An experienced Charlotte auto accident lawyer knows that the law, and professional responsibilities, often require a much more difficult balance. From the perspective of the Charlotte auto accident lawyer in this case, the primary decision-maker should have always remained the patient. This was also reflected in how the Charlotte auto accident lawyer argued the case to the North Carolina Supreme Court.

The Charlotte auto accident lawyer acknowledged, some states treated the matter of confidentiality differently. Some states have approached cases of wrongful medical disclosure under very different theories… invasion of privacy, a breach of contract, or breaches of duty of confidentiality. In this case, an auto accident lawyer has unique experience, and arguments, as to why to regard these types of wrongful releases of information as medical malpractice. after listening to both sides, the Supreme Court agreed with the Charlotte auto accident lawyer. The proper cause of action for this particular case was medical malpractice. This was also consistent with what the North Carolina legislature, in defining failures to furnish professional services by any healthcare (which can be a slippery term) provider as medical malpractice. This is also probably consistent with the best remedies available after auto accidents occur in North Carolina. This Charlotte auto accident lawyer, by raising the issue of medical malpractice, has helped make it more likely that healthcare professionals, treating auto accident victims, will be more careful about releasing information against the wishes of their patients or accident victims.

IV.  Setting A Higher Standard

In addition to successfully establishing a violation of privacy as a medical malpractice issue, there was another important argument made by the Charlotte auto accident lawyer. Should Linda in this case have had cause to hold the counselor to a particular “standard of care”? The Charlotte auto accident lawyer introduced evidence that she had clearly suffered damages by the counselor’s failing to conduct his counseling within prescribed rules. Evidence suggested that Linda suffered severe self-doubt and emotional distress, manifested by confusion, and exacerbated as a result of improper counseling. Here, the facts discovered by the Charlotte auto accident lawyer uncovered serious counseling issues, that eventually went beyond treatment for the auto accident. Linda testified her husband’s drinking was causing profound marital stress, and how pain from the auto accident was becoming a factor in the marriage as well. Unfortunately, according to Linda, the counselor attempted to describe her pain as “predominately emotional.” Perhaps even more worrisome, Linda said that the counselor “discouraged me from going to see any other doctor. He would also constantly be asking who I was seeing, why I was going, what they said, and so forth. He seemed almost obsessed by it.”

Eventually, the auto accident seemed to take a backseat to other counseling “issues.” The Charlotte auto accident lawyer introduced detailed evidence, according to Linda, that the counselor would “try to stir up trouble” between Linda and her family. Linda noted that the counselor had attempted to kiss her, and even “attempted to feel my breast.” He asked her about sexual fantasies and related issues.

Ironically enough, the counselor attempted to argue that there was no existence of facts to support the auto injuries to Linda. Thus, the counselor pointed to testimony that Linda had no fractures or other injuries shown by x-rays. Linda, on the other hand, with the help of her Charlotte auto accident lawyer, did introduce actual evidence of fractures from the auto accident. Ultimately, the North Carolina Supreme Court agreed with the Charlotte auto accident lawyer: Linda’s case had been improperly dismissed.

Conclusions:   

 Until someone actually experiences a devastating auto accident, they don’t realize the many different medical treatments that may be required to make a full recovery. Having an experienced Charlotte auto accident lawyer on your side, early in the process, helps guarantee that you receive a full range of treatment that is your legal right. If you, a family member or a loved one have been hurt in a vehicle or accident related to a motor vehicle, or involving related claims or your legal rights or hearings, please contact us.  You will speak with a Charlotte auto accident/ trial lawyer who can best answer your questions.  There is never a fee for this initial consultation.

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