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Counselors' Liability for Counselees' Actions

Counselors may sometimes be legally responsible for injuries caused by their counselees.

South Carolina
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Key point. Counselors may not be legally responsible for injuries caused by their counselees, unless they are aware of a specific threat of harm toward a particular victim
• A South Carolina court ruled that a counselor was not legally responsible for the murder of an individual by one of his counselees since the counselee never made a specific threat toward the murder victim. A psychiatrist had as a patient a severely disturbed woman who worked as a nurses' aid in a nursing home. The woman attempted to commit suicide while at work, and was hospitalized in a psychiatric ward for one month. She returned to work following her release, and within a few days set fire to several rooms. Her actions resulted in the death of one resident. Several others were injured. The family of the deceased resident sued the psychiatrist, claiming that he was guilty of negligence in failing to warn ...

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Richard R. Hammar is an attorney, CPA and author specializing in legal and tax issues for churches and clergy.

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Posted:
  • May 1, 1997

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