Research shows that involvement in on‐going litigation affects one’s recovery from a painful or chronic injury or disorder. Typically, those involved with litigation are less likely to recover quickly from surgery and may be more depressed and anxious,causing greater social dysfunction.
There is a negative effect on those who are sued after an accident or medical error. Research shows that doctors sued for malpractice have increased “depressive symptom clusters” including insomnia, headaches, difficulty concentrating, suicidal ideation, depressed mood, irritability and increased alcohol use. These difficulties increase despite the fact that the doctors were insured.
When wrongdoers fail to take responsibility, they experience feelings of internal shame, guilt and decreased self-esteem. These feelings appear to be significantly reduced when people take responsibility and seek forgiveness for their acts.
The primary factors which account for the counter-therapeutic effects of tort litigation are:
- Delay between the time of the accident or event and the resolution of the claim or lawsuit.
- No opportunity for the injured person and the wrongdoer to meet face to face to acknowledge losses and responsibilities.
- Payment of money is often insufficient to satisfy an injured person or repair the intangible harms caused by the injury.
A study done in 2002 by researchers from Hope College and Virginia Commonwealth University showed that heart rate, blood pressure, sweat levels, and facial tension decreased in victims of wrongs when they imagined receiving an apology.
"The research is clear that litigation is not healthy for anyone. An alternative approach using acknowledgment and apology would be a good place to start"
Edie Greene, Ph.D., Professor UCCS