MENTAL HEALTH LITIGATION
Mental health difficulties affect people from all walks of life. Our clients are individuals who are diagnosed with mental health issues; they are not their diagnosis. We put the person first and strive to make sure that all the people that interact with our clients also see the individual and not just a diagnosis.
Mental health issues for yourself or a family member can be very stressful and overwhelming. Attorney Curran is committed to protecting the legal and constitutional rights of individuals facing civil commitment to mental hospitals, guardianships and involuntary treatment including the administration of anti-psychotic medications. Attorney Curran will be a passionate and zealous advocate to ensure that each client obtains a course of action, relief or treatment that is most appropriate for that individual.
Involuntary Admissions/Commitments, also commonly called “Section 12s”, require the treating hospital (called the petitioner) to find an individual has a mental illness, there is a likelihood of harm due to that mental illness, and there is no less restrictive alternative. The petitioner has the burden of establishing all of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt. This burden cannot be shifted on to the client to disprove these elements or to prove they are ready to be discharged.
Attorney Curran will advocate for her client to oppose the petition and to insure that they receive all of their due process and other legal rights. At a minimum, Attorney Curran will ensure that that the hospital meets its burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the client meets the criteria for commitment. The client’s wishes are the heart of all of the advocacy done on their behalf.
Involuntary Medical Treatments
Massachusetts law protects your right to decide your course of treatment, which specifically includes your right to refuse medication and/or treatment. Being admitted and/or committed to a facility does not meant that you are incompetent to give or withhold consent. Once an individual is admitted/committed to a treating facility, the petitioner needs to prove to a court that the patient is incapable of making their own life decisions because they are incompetent.
If a court finds that an individual is unable to competently decide whether to accept or refuse the proposed treatment or procedure, the court will substitute their judgment and decide what the individual would decide if they were competent to do so. Before a court make a decision about what an individual’s decision would be about treatment, it must review several factors from the individual’s perspective. Attorney Curran will zealously advocate for her client’s right to make their own decisions about their medical treatment. If the court finds an individual incompetent; she will request a review date so that the individual’s competency can be reviewed periodically and their right to make their own medical decisions restored.
Courts are allowed to give delegate decision making for an individual who is found incompetent to a family member or other trusted adult. The role of guardianship can be emotionally trying and difficult to fulfill but it is a vital role that ensures the best interests of the individual are fulfilled.