What types of cases require a Forensic Psychiatrist?
Cases that require a Forensic Psychiatrist to evaluate, assess and render opinion are not always self-evident even though the benefit of this area of expertise can be significant to a trier of fact, judge, jury and other counsel. Most cases settle, but not until everyone is informed and can best evaluate what’s on the line.
Most cases contain an element of psychology–by which I mean emotional and mental processes. Psychiatrists evaluate what we think of as “psychological” conditions.
Forensic Psychiatrists serve a variety of roles, from expert private consultant to testifying Expert Witness.
Here are just a few areas of law in which I have been retained or about which a Forensic Psychiatrist is asked to opine.
Emotional Distress is evaluated by a Forensic Psychiatrist.
Emotional Distress damages are claimed in many Personal Injury cases because there is rarely a situation where a car or similar accident does not have emotional impact on a person’s life – or at least that is the Plaintiff’s claim. Both Plaintiff and Defense are concerned with the actual existence and/or degree of emotional distress, diagnosis and prognosis for recovery.
Testamentary Capacity if Psychiatric Competency is challenged. A psychiatrist is a physician and is especially qualified where physical illness, medication and treatment are complicating matters. A psychologist is not qualified to consider medical illness, interpret medical records, conduct a medical examination or address prescription medication.
Susceptibility to fraud due to a Psychiatric feature.
Most people agree that we have different levels of “sound” judgment to defend against fraud. Some people are more suspicious or skeptical. Others are naive and susceptible to trust as true what is put to them. Psychiatric conditions and Personality Disorders can contribute to both the commission of fraud or victimization by fraud. A Forensic Psychiatrist is an appropriate Expert Witness to conduct an evaluation.
Fraud and Elder Abuse
Elders with physical and/or mental limitations on their ability to protect themselves from abuse of any kind is evaluated by a Forensic Psychiatrist, who is a medical doctor. My Brain Injury Medicine qualifications are applied in cases where dementia, for example, is a factor.
Undue Influence can be considered a form of Elder Abuse.
A forensic psychiatrist’s evaluation of
- State of mind at the time a crime is alleged to have been committed.
- Evaluating and testifying about Personality Disorders, Anxiety Disorders, even Psychotic Disorders, if present
In some jurisdictions, only forensic psychiatrists or forensic psychologists are permitted to perform certain types of criminal examinations such as
- Competency to Stand Trial
- NGRI (Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity).