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Mental Health Negligence Claims for Mentally Unwell Patients

If you or someone close has been failed by a healthcare provider when suffering from mental health issues, and they have been injured as a result, a medical negligence claim for compensation can be brought.

Medical professionals are required by law to treat mentally unwell patients with reasonable care and skill. When medical treatment is below a reasonable standard and results in a patient suffering a physical or psychiatric injury, this is considered medical negligence.


Due to restrictions in Queensland (QLD) and Western Australia (WA) we are prohibited from showing people in those states certain information regarding our legal services. If you are located in QLD or WA, please click here for information on medical negligence claims.

Do I have a mental health negligence claim?

To successfully claim compensation for an injury due to medical negligence in the treatment of mental health, it needs to be proven:

Patient Care The patient was under the legal responsibility, or dute of care, of a healthcare provider.
Patient CareThey received medical treatment which does not meet the reasonable standard expected in Australia.
Patient Care This below-standard treatment causes physical injury or harm to the patient; if the patient passes away, suffering to their loved ones.

If you meet the above conditions, you may be eligible to claim compensation for an injury due to medical negligence in the treatment of mental health.

Medical negligence claims generally must be made within a three-year legal limit. Depending on the case, the three years may be from the date the medical negligence occurred or the date the negligence was learnt of.

If you believe you may have a mental health negligence claim, contacting our Medical Law team as soon as possible will ensure your claim is made within the relevant legal time limit.

When is mental health treatment below a reasonable standard?

Whether treatment is of or below a reasonable standard depends on the specifics of a case — there’s no set definition of what is ‘reasonable’. A medical law expert is best-positioned to advise you as to whether certain treatment would fall below the expected standard.

A medical negligence claim can’t be made based off below reasonable standard care alone — it must be proven the care resulted in injury or suffering.

Generally, examples of medical treatment of mentally unwell patients below a reasonable standard include:

  • Failing to recognise or investigate symptoms suggesting mental illness
  • Misdiagnosing a condition
  • Failing to properly supervise at-risk patients
  • Use of inappropriate treatment methods or medications.

These circumstances can lead to patients suffering harm either in the care of a medical provider or upon being released.

The consequences of mental illness negligence: our clients’ story

The Medical Law team is representing a family who lost their mother due to below reasonable standard treatment of her mental illness. When a loved one or family member is killed due to negligence, their spouse, children or other dependents may be able to make dependency claims.

The mother had received past treatment for her mental health, but her wellbeing continued to decline. With the support of her family, she presented to a hospital emergency department.

The treating doctor administered an antipsychotic medication and said the mother appeared settled. The family told the doctor that their mother typically reacted poorly to antipsychotic medication, with stronger hallucinations as the drugs wore off, and pleaded with the doctor to keep their mother overnight for observation. The mother was declared fit and discharged that day, to her family’s shock and concern.

Once home, the mother’s hallucinations returned within hours and she took her life the next day. Her family have been left devastated by this loss and her children are now navigating life without a mother.

Now, Shine Lawyers Medical Law team are helping the family claim the compensation they need for support. Dependency claims like our clients’ are made for the loss of the deceased’s income, as well as their non-financial contributions to the family like housework.

Why choose the Shine Lawyers Medical Law Team?

The complexity of medical law means clients are best represented by lawyers who work exclusively in this dynamic area of law. With more than 105 years of collective experience, Shine Lawyers’ Medical Law team have a record achieving outstanding results for their clients.

The team consists of carefully-selected medical law lawyers, each possessing an expert understanding of the legal and medical intricacies of medical negligence claims.

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Obligation-free initial consultation to assess your case confidentially

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Claim assessment process where we will explain all of the options available to you

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We can come to you - if you can't make it into the office we're more than happy to come to you

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No Win No Fee arrangement

What can I expect from the legal journey?

When considering a claim with the Medical Law team, we listen carefully to your story, then provide you an assessment of all your available options.

We are committed to ensuring you always understand your rights and the legal process. Working closely with you and your family, we want you to feel as if you have control through what can be a challenging time.

If you decide to commence a claim with us, the typical medical negligence claim progresses through the steps in the diagram below.

Process Diagram

What can I claim compensation for?

The amount of compensation you can recover in a medical negligence claim relating to mental health treatment is not pre-determined.

The compensation will depend on the significance of the suffering or injury. It is intended to restore the person claiming, to the fullest extent money allows, to the position he or she would be in if the suffering or injury had not occurred. It reflects the suffering or injury experienced by the person claiming, rather than the severity of negligence by the healthcare provider.

Compensation is commonly granted for:

  • Specialist medical care and rehabilitation
  • Pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life
  • Past and future loss of earnings
  • Care to meet injury-related needs.


Common Questions

Most states and territories have a three-year limit. The three years run from the date of the medical negligence or in some cases, from the date the negligence was first discovered.

It’s possible for a claim to be made outside the prescribed time limits if the injury or harm was not immediately obvious.

You should call us to discuss the situation as soon as you become aware that you may have been subjected to improper medical treatment. This will ensure you have time on your side and we can get you the best possible outcome.

We can help you on a No Win No Fee* basis and you will only pay our fees on successful completion of your claim. This means you won’t have to pay any of our fees at all until you receive your compensation.

There’s no catch and no hidden costs so there won’t be any surprises.

Your legal costs at the end will depend on the amount of work required to resolve your claim.

*Conditions apply

You might not know where to start with your legal claim, but you don’t have to. We will take all the stress out by putting your claim together and organising any appointments you need to go along to. We’ll make sure you’re always in control by explaining the process in simple language. We don’t speak like lawyers because the law can be confusing enough.

Australian law recognises that medical practitioners need to make difficult decisions under extreme pressure but negligent medical treatment goes beyond making a simple mistake.

To prove medical negligence, you need to show that the treatment fell below the standard of care reasonably expected from a professional.

If the medical practitioner or hospital acted in a way considered to be acceptable in the opinion of a large number of respected medical practitioners in that same field, then you may not have a claim.

Where you are located isn't necessarily a barrier when it comes to obtaining the services of a medical negligence lawyer. We're experts when it comes to medical negligence related claims and we can help you get the compensation you deserve.

It doesn't matter if you are located close or far away from a Shine Lawyers office - we will always provide the same, expert advice and manage your claim with the same level of quality and commitment.

Our compensation experts are in the following locations:

Shine Lawyers are public liability law experts that can help you get the compensation you need for your injury. Click on the links below for further information about how Shine Lawyers can help you today.

Why you should choose Shine Lawyers to handle your public liability claim

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