Abuse Law What can I expect at my psychiatric appointment

Typically, during a common law claim for damages for an abuse claim, medico-legal evidence is obtained from a psychiatrist/s to provide evidence of the injury a survivor has suffered as a result of the abuse.   

Below is a brief summary of what can be expected at these medico-legal appointments with psychiatrists.  

What will the doctor already know?

The doctor will already have some information about the survivor’s physical and emotional injuries and how they were sustained.  As a survivor’s lawyers, we will have sent the doctor a letter about the survivor’s injuries and copies of relevant medical records.  However, the doctor will also need to ask the survivor questions about their injury. It is important for a survivor to answer the questions asked by the doctor honestly and openly, and try to be as thorough as possible so that the doctor gets a full picture of how the injuries are affecting the survivor’s life.  It is common for survivors to not want to ‘complain’ about their injuries, but it is important that survivors do tell the doctor all of their problems so that the doctor can make the most accurate assessment of the survivor’s situation. 

What will the doctor ask?

Not all doctors will ask for the same information, but many will. It is important that the survivor is prepared with information (either written down for reference, or prepared in their head) to answer questions about the following common things. 

  • The survivor’s complete work history. Some doctors may want to know a bit about the types of duties/roles the survivor has done throughout their working life. The doctor may also wish to know about any periods of unemployment and a survivor’s reasoning for leaving any jobs.
  • The survivor’s relevant medical and psychiatric history (e.g. any and all previous injuries or illnesses of a significant nature).  
  • The doctor will probably ask the survivor how the injuries occurred (i.e. discussions about the history of the abuse).
  • Details of the survivor’s injury, including the nature of the injury, and all treatment received since it happened (including medication treatment).
  • How the injury affects the survivor now, both at work and at home (e.g. housework, gardening, etc) and any impact on the survivors hobbies, social, and/or recreational
    This means things the survivor used to enjoy or do, and now either can no longer do them or can do them but it hurts/impacts the survivor.
  • The emotional impact that the injury has had on the survivor, including the survivor’s ability to function, and on the survivor’s relationships with friends and family.

We are specialist abuse lawyers and can help you receive acknowledgement, meaningful apology and financial resolution from those institutions and systems of power that failed to protect you from harm. If you would like advice in relation to a childhood or adult sexual, physical and/or psychological/emotional abuse claim, please reach out to the author and Littles Lawyers today. 

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