What To Do When The Accident Victim Is Incapacitated

Posted on: 29 September 2017


Sometimes a severe truck accident will leave victims with incapacitating injuries, such as brain damage, that makes it impossible for them to launch and manage personal injury lawsuits against the liable parties. While it's still possible for these people to obtain compensation for their injuries, their cases must be handled in a special way. If you're a friend or family member of the injured person, here's what needs to be done to protect your loved one's right to sue:

Obtain Supporting Medical and Psychological Reports

The first thing the court will do when it learns the plaintiff(s) in the lawsuit is incapacitated is require whoever is bringing the claim on the person's behalf to prove the individual's state of mind. The ease with which you can accomplish this will depend on the victim's injuries.

For instance, it'll be easy to get a doctor to sign a note confirming your loved one is in a coma or vegetative state. However, you would need to have a mental health professional evaluate your loved one if he or she is incapacitated by a mental disorder, such as depression, schizophrenia, or dementia, which may require him or her to undergo several types of tests over a period of weeks or months.

It's important to get the paperwork as soon as possible because the court will use this information to determine whether to appoint a guardian for the plaintiff who can litigate the personal injury case in his or her stead. Additionally, states typically limit how long you have to file a lawsuit after the incident occurs—which can be as short as one year in some areas—so you need to act fast to get all the paperwork submitted on time.

Have a Guardian Appointed ASAP

The second thing you need to do is petition the court to become your loved one's guardian if that's possible in your state. Some states will appoint someone associated with the courts, particularly if the victim is underage or doesn't have any family. In most states, though, anyone can serve in this role as long as they meet the state's requirements for guardianship.

For example, some states require the guardian to be related to the victim by blood or marriage. In others, anyone who is capable of helping the victim with his or her legal and medical affairs can petition the court to fulfill the role. It's best to consult with an attorney to learn the specific requirements for your state and get the ball rolling on this process as soon as possible.

If you need help managing a lawsuit for someone who is incapacitated, contact a truck accident lawyer for advice and assistance.