WomensLaw is not just for women. We serve and support all survivors, no matter their sex or gender.

Important: Even if courts are closed, you can still file for a protection order and other emergency relief. See our FAQ on Courts and COVID-19.

Legal Information: Delaware

Statutes: Delaware

View all
Updated: 
April 8, 2020

§ 5402. Duty of mental health services providers to take precautions against threatened patient violence; duty to warn

(a) A person may not bring a cause of action against a mental health services provider, institution, agency, or hospital, and legal liability may not be imposed, for the inability of a mental health services provider, institution, agency, or hospital to prevent harm to person or property caused by a patient unless both of the following are met:

(1) The patient has communicated to the mental health services provider, institution, agency, or hospital an explicit and imminent threat to kill or seriously injure a clearly identified victim, or to commit a specific violent act or to destroy property under circumstances which could easily lead to serious personal injury or death, and the patient has an apparent intent and ability to carry out the threat.

(2) The mental health services provider, institution, agency, or hospital fails to take the precautions specified in subsection (b) of this section in an attempt to prevent the threatened harm.

(b) Any duty owed by a mental health services provider, institution, agency, or hospital to take reasonable precautions to prevent harm threatened by a patient is discharged, as a matter of law, if the mental health services provider, institution, agency, or hospital, in a timely manner, does both of the following:

(1) Notifies a law enforcement agency having jurisdiction where the potential victim resides, or notifies a law enforcement agency having jurisdiction where the patient resides, and communicates the threat of death or serious bodily injury to the clearly identified victim.

(2) Arranges for the patient’s immediate voluntary or involuntary hospitalization, in an inpatient or outpatient program.

(c) If a patient has explicitly threatened to cause serious harm to a person or property, or a mental health services provider, institution, agency, or hospital otherwise concludes that the patient is likely to do so or is dangerous to others or dangerous to self, as these terms are defined in § 5001 of this title, and the mental health services provider, institution, agency, or hospital, for the purpose of reducing the risk of harm, discloses any confidential communication made by or relating to the patient, a person may not bring cause of action, either criminal or civil, against the mental health services provider, institution, agency, or hospital for making such disclosure.

(d) Repealed by 81 Laws 2018, ch. 232, § 5.