Emotional Injury

An emotional injury can be caused from events ranging from an assault or rape to humiliation or embarrassment from a spouse or co-worker. Such forensic cases impose particular demands for sophistication about trauma, malingering, effects of stress, and the assessment of function. Posttraumatic stress disorder is a frequently claimed psychiatric condition in civil cases, in part because attorneys are familiar with the diagnosis. Accordingly, The Forensic Panel’s expert psychiatrist will prepare a custom evaluation specific to the unique characteristics of each case in order to asses the emotional injury, if any, that has been caused to a person.

The alleged perpetrator(s) and victim of the abuse can be interviewed, as well as collateral witnesses to the events. The forensic psychiatrist will determine the extent of emotional injury caused by the abuse, the impact that the emotion injury has upon the person, what can be done to alleviate the impact of the injury and what the long-term effects of the injury are expected to be.

The Forensic Panel is frequently consulted in emotional injury cases, in order to ascertain:

  1. What has happened to an examinee emotionally (focusing on symptoms first, diagnosis second)?
  2. What is causally responsible for the symptoms (was it the matter prompting the litigation, or some other stressor – family, relationship, financial, health, etc.)?
  3. How is the examinee doing now, emotionally (symptoms and their severity) and functionally (social, interpersonal, marital and occupational)?
  4. What is the examinee’s prognosis (and if the prognosis is uncertain or poor, what treatment or other interventions are needed to improve that prognosis)?

Financial stresses, previous exploitative lawsuits, another important source of injury, or previously existing major psychiatric illness can all be discovered with a comprehensive investigation of collateral sources and personal contacts of the plaintiff. The range of personality disorders and personality dynamics between victim and defendant confront the forensic psychiatrist who is assessing the possibility of emotional distress as an impact of an event.

All forensic psychiatry examinations of personal injury are better served by input from family or close acquaintances that interacted with an examinee before, during, and after an event or period in question. Access to actually speak with previous treating therapists is also helpful; for a treating professional may have many opinions he or she can share far beyond the often scant or illegible notes typically available through written records.

Personal injury cases often leave little physical trace, and are fueled by the charges and denials of the participants. Clearly, the investigative burden required to resolve these questions is substantial. The investigative diligence of The Forensic Panel is just another of the reasons why our forensic examinations are so qualitatively superior. Peer review, originated by The Forensic Panel, ensures diligence to the examination of functional impairment and causation, and diagnostic conclusions that reflect prevailing scientific standards. Peer reviewed oversight is especially important in bridging the interface between psychiatry and medicine, in investigating the body’s reactions to stress. Moreover, with the oversight and guidance of peer review, the primary psychiatric examiner in each case will submit a final report that is able to withstand the most critical scrutiny and reflects the most recent understandings of the mechanism of emotional injury.