What are my legal options if a loved one becomes incapacitated?
If a close relative or loved one sustains a severe injury that hinders his or her ability to pursue a personal injury claim, you may be able to take legal action on their behalf.
There are some restrictions that apply, including incapacitation, eligibility and types of damages that can be recovered.
What counts as incapacitation?
When a person becomes incapacitated, he or she is not capable of making decisions. Incapacitation could be temporary (due to a severe injury) or permanent (due to a disability). Some examples of incapacitation include:
- Severe traumatic brain injury
Am I eligible to make legal decisions on behalf of someone else?
In order to be eligible to file a personal injury claim on behalf of someone else, you must prove legal guardianship.
Guardianship is automatically recognized for parents of the injured party. If you are not the parent, the injured party must have granted you guardianship or appointed you as a medical proxy. Otherwise, you must file a petition with your county court.
If you're in the Tavares area, you would need to file a petition with the Lake County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller.
What types of damages can I recover on behalf of a loved one?
If your loved one becomes incapacitated, you may be entitled to compensation for these damages:
- Current and future medical costs
- Lost wages or future earnings
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Mental and emotional anguish
- Reduced quality of life
- Permanent or partial disability
- Loss of consortium
- Punitive damages (if your loved one's injury was caused by recklessness, gross negligence or violence)
How can I get started on my personal injury claim?
To get started on your claim, you may need to first do your own homework. You can start by gathering:
- Important documentation — police reports, incident reports, medical evaluations and proof of guardianship
- Proof of losses — medical bills, your loved one's earnings, days spent away from work, property damage and an estimate of future medical care
- Proof of negligence or recklessness — witness statements, pictures of the scene where the incident occurred, surveillance video (if available) and dash cam footage
After gathering important documentation and evidence, you will need to consult with an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer who can:
- Launch a thorough investigation
- Determine how much your claim is worth
- Negotiate with insurance companies for complete compensation
- Go to trial, if an agreement can't be reached with the insurance companies
For more than 25 years, the Law Offices of Brent C. Miller, P.A. has helped victims and families throughout Tavares, the Villages, Inverness, and Clermont get the justice they deserve. To find out how our legal team can help you, fill out our contact form online or call us at 1-800-323-1243. Our legal consultations are confidential and free of charge.