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Suing a Therapist for their Patient’s Crimes in Pennsylvania

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When someone treats with a mental health professional, they are typically under the assumption that everything they say is safe from disclosure.  But under certain circumstances, a therapist can be responsible for their negligence if they do not warn others of threats posed by their patients.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has balanced the confidential therapist/patient relationship with the need to protect society from crimes committed by mental health patients in some situations.  Because of this, you may be able to bring a lawsuit against a therapist if you were harmed by their patient.

In 2020, the Court expanded a therapist’s duty to warn third parties when a patient expressed a desire to kill unspecified neighbors.

In that case, a patient lived in an apartment building with a total of 40 individual units.  The patient received mental health treatment on numerous occasions because of having homicidal thoughts.

The patient told his treatment providers that he had plans to kill his neighbors.  He never identified any neighbors by name and his treatment providers took no steps to warn any residents of his apartment building of the threats.

He later stabbed his neighbor to death with scissors. 

We now know that by not warning the neighbors, the therapist could be sued for negligence.  Therapists have a duty to warn victims of threats their patients make if those victims are readily identifiable as members of a specific group.

It is important that mental health professionals be held accountable for their negligence if their patients cause others harm, and they could have prevented it.  It is also important that the victims of this negligence receive justice and fair compensation.

Andreozzi + Foote is one of the nation’s leading firms in representing victims who were harmed by negligent healthcare providers.

Please reach out to us for a free consultation at 866-311-8640.

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