Should a family member or a loved one of yours end up injured in an accident, you’ll want to do the best you can to ensure that they come out of the experience as whole as possible. There’s always a risk, though, that your loved one’s health will be severely compromised after an accident, and that they won’t be able to handle the legalities of their situation. If this is the case, you may find yourself questioning whether or not it’s possible for you to serve as their legal representative.
Generally speaking, you can file a personal injury claim for a family member or loved one who is unable to file one for themselves so long as you go through the necessary steps to establish yourself as that person’s legal representative. A personal injury claim will enable you to sue for your loved one’s care and ensure that, should they be severely injured, they will be compensated.
Understanding and Working Within Guardianship
The process of filing to serve as a loved one’s legal representative is complex. In order to fill this role, you’ll need to argue for your right to serve as your loved one’s guardian, if you’re not their legal guardian already. If the victim in question is your child, then you, as their parent, will automatically be assigned guardianship. If you are not related to the victim, though, and they have not already established you as the recipient of their power of attorney or as their medical proxy, then you’ll have to petition a court in order to become your loved one’s provisional guardian.
Hiring An Attorney
You’ll next want to find an attorney. Rarely do personal injury cases proceed without one, and an experienced attorney will help maximize the chances of a successful outcome in the case. Make sure the attorney you hire is highly experienced and specializes in the area of personal injury specific to your case.
Assisting a Loved One with a Severe Injury
When it comes to the details of serving your loved one in court, you’ll find that there are a number of procedures with which you’ll have to comply. In a case of severe injury involving two people, a court can establish a family representative to fill the role of your loved one’s conservator once a petition has been issued asking that the position be filled. To become a conservator for your loved one, you will both have to issue said petition and attend a follow-up hearing in the court in order for a judge to determine whether or not the case in question demands that your loved one need an additional representative.
The conservator-to-be has to convince the court that the injured individual isn’t capable of filing a personal injury report or representing themselves in court, and then that the conservator will attend to the injured party’s best interests. If the petition is approved and the role of conservator is assigned, the conservator has the opportunity to work alongside an attorney in order to issue the personal injury case. The court must once again approve the filing of this lawsuit by a person who represents the injured party as opposed to the injured party, themselves.
When the Injured Party is a Minor
When a minor is severely injured in an accident, court procedures and guardianship can become both more and less complicated. Minors often have their guardianship assigned to a parent or pre-approved guardian, as has been discussed before. In these cases, that guardian can file a personal injury case for the child as a “next friend,” or a person involved in the act of suit who isn’t the victim in question. It should be worth noting, though, that any compensation the child is awarded after the suit should go directly to that child, and that parents or guardians are not entitled to said compensation.
If the injury in question is especially serious, the person who would serve as a minor’s guardian should go through the conservator process as described above in order to ensure that there is additional evidence on the floor as well as a record of thorough legal compliance.
When the Injury Results in Death
In some cases, the injuries that a loved one of yours has sustained may result in death. These cases are full of grief, and you may want to take some time between the death of your loved one and the filing of a case against the individual who caused your loved one’s injuries. All the same, the nature of the case you file against this individual will change. You’ll no longer be operating through the procedures of a personal injury case. Instead, you’ll want to file a “wrongful death” suit. In cases like these, you will still have the opportunity to go through the procedures that’ll see you become your loved one’s conservator. It may be the case, though, that you’d find yourself better served in passing off the role to a professional attorney. No matter your familiarity with the case in question, your loved one’s death will demand your grief. By bringing in a third party, you can assure that your court case is given more objectivity and thereby has a great chance of succeeding.
No one wants a loved one or family member of theirs to get in an accident, and especially not one that would compromise that person’s ability to represent themselves medically or professionally. It’s impossible, though, to plan for every occasion, and there may come a point where you have to petition to serve as a guardian to someone you care about. In these circumstances, as outlined above, it is entirely possible for you to serve as one of your loved one’s representatives in a court of law and to file a personal injury case on their behalf. Make use of your connection with your loved one as well as your objectivity, and you may win your loved one compensation that can more than make up for the injuries they have sustained.
If you or a loved one have been injured, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Carpenter, Zuckerman & Rowley today for a free consultation.