Malpractice Liability of Psychologists

  • R. Kirkland Gable


Psychologists appear to be exposed to increasing risk of malpractice liability. This is reflected not only in the frequency of claims but also in their size.2 This may be caused in part by the general trend toward using malpractice suits against medical and other practitioners when there has been injury, loss, or dissatisfaction regardless of the practitioner’s capability. Although many persons use the term malpractice to refer to any type of legal suit against practitioners resulting from their practice, in law it refers specifically to legal actions based upon the practitioner’s negligence. Other types of liability may arise from the practitioner’s assault and battery (unconsented touching), false imprisonment, or other forms of misconduct. In fact, practitioners often are sued on several theories of liability of which malpractice may be only one. Because of the potential importance of this law to the professional psychologist, the rest of this chapter will review it. Since cases of malpractice involving only psychologists are rather few, however, the law applicable to psychologists often must be inferred from cases involving psychiatrists or other mental health or medical practitioners. Following a discussion of malpractice based upon negligence, other types of potential liability will be considered.


Supra Note Legal Action Physical Injury Mental Hospital Civil Liability 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Kirkland Gable
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyCalifornia Lutheran CollegeThousand OaksUSA

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