Personal injury claims address damages suffered as a result of someone else’s negligence. But sometimes the injuries are so severe the person is incapacitated. The individual may be a child or older person who cannot successfully pursue this type of case on his or her own. This may lead to a family member (or another individual) filing a claim on the accident victim’s behalf.
Proving that someone is incapable of representing oneself and requires a court-appointed guardian might come with some challenges. Therefore, it would be a good idea to consult an attorney about the right to file a claim on behalf of a loved one and what legal options may be available.
What constitutes an individual as incapacitated?
Injuries that prevent someone from making sound, reasonable decisions may determine whether or not someone is incapacitated. One of the most common types of incapacitating injuries stemming from an accident is a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Moderate to severe brain damage could impact one’s ability to remember, process thoughts and perform numerous other critical functions. Impairments may go away with time or may be permanent.
Whenever it’s believed someone lacks sufficient understanding in making decisions regarding legal actions, it could allow someone to be assigned as a guardian.
Who makes decisions regarding legal actions when an individual’s injuries are incapacitating?
Depending on the degree of impairment, the injured person and the guardian may make legal decisions together. Of course, an attorney likely would assist with this process. But usually all final decisions are made by the appointed guardian.
Keep in mind that in Pennsylvania, there are two types of guardians. There is guardianship of an estate and of a person. In an injury case, guardianship of a person would apply. The court will appoint a guardian and will ensure he or she performs duties properly.
Guardians are not always family members. One of the most important considerations is whether or not there is a conflict of interest in the chosen guardian. In most cases, the person named as guardian is someone the injured victim prefers (when that is possible). But in the end, it’s the court that makes the appointment.
What types of damages might an incapacitated person recover?
Whoever files a claim on an injured person’s behalf will need to take into consideration all losses suffered as a result of the accident caused by another’s negligence. Most common are the medical expenses. But it’s important not only to consider the initial costs (such as emergency services and hospitalization), but also any future ones (such as rehabilitation or physical therapy).
Medical costs may include assistive devices for those permanently disabled or special services that will be required, such as round-the-clock caregiving. Any injury-related expenses should be included when seeking damages.
Compensation should take into account lost earnings. The individual could be out of work for an extended period of time. In that case the injured person, his or her guardian, and a lawyer may estimate the expected number of weeks or months he or she will be unable to work. The individual may never be able to return, which could lead to damages for earning potential.
Incapacitating injuries often allow for recovery of noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, permanent disability, disfigurement, reduced quality of life, and more. An attorney can help determine all forms of compensation to seek when the careless or reckless actions of another individual cause injuries.
Don’t hesitate to seek legal advice from Cordisco & Saile LLC when seeking to file a claim on someone else’s behalf. Set up a consultation to discuss the accident, damages and the prospect of court-appointed guardianship.