The doctor-patient relationship is one of the most sacred relationships in our society, and the vast majority of physicians, therapists, and other medical treatment providers treat their patients with the utmost respect. However, some doctors shamefully take advantage of their patient’s trust for their own sexual pleasure.
These sexual misconduct victims are entitled to both compensation and justice. Financial compensation includes money for both direct damages, such as lost wages, and indirect damages, such as pain and suffering. Perhaps more importantly, the claims shed the light of day on these unspeakable acts, thus helping to prevent future victims and giving closure to the affected families.
Claims Against Individuals
Sexual battery is the most common claim in these instances. Doctors get a substantial amount if leeway in these cases, but they cross the line if:
- The Exam Has No Valid Purpose: While many exams are unwanted, embarrassing, and uncomfortable, if they have a valid medical purpose there probably is no cause of action, even if the physician did not discuss the procedure with the patient beforehand.
- Intent: Essentially, the doctor must perform the exam to gratify a sexual desire. Sometimes, it’s possible to infer intent from conduct alone.
Most states have very broad sexual battery laws that encompass a wide range of activities. The conduct must cause an injury. That may even include an unwanted touching that does not cause a serious or permanent injury.
Claims Against Organizations
Typically, hospitals, clinics, and other employers are legally responsible for the negligent acts of their employees. Even though sexual battery is an intentional tort as opposed to a careless one, this same principle still applies.
Negligent supervision is one of the most common theories in this area. Victim/plaintiffs must establish all the elements by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). These elements are:
- The employer had a duty to hire the highest-quality employees that had the utmost respect for the doctor-patient relationship,
- The employer breached that duty by hiring a person that it knew, or should have known, might commit a sexual battery or other such tort, and
- That breach of duty caused injury.
Once again, the injury need not be physical. Most courts interpret the damage provision liberally, and an experienced attorney can seek justice and compensation.