Q: Can I file a personal injury claim on behalf of a family member who is seriously injured and unable to represent themselves?
You may file a personal injury claim on behalf of a family member who is seriously injured and unable to represent themselves, as long as you are appointed by a court. And you must establish that the family member is incapacitated.
Defining Incapacitation in Georgia
After an accident a person is considered incapacitated, according to the Model Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria, if she cannot:
- drive; or
- engage in other activities that she could perform before the injury.
Sometimes people recover shortly afterward. But for those who don’t and someone else was at fault for the accident, it may necessitate a family member pursuing compensation through a personal injury claim. In Georgia, a probate court would need to appoint someone as guardian and/or conservator.
To be considered incapacitated, the injured person must be unable to communicate important decisions pertaining to:
- safety; and
- legal issues.
Of course, this could include the inability to make legal decisions.
When pursuing guardianship/conservatorship, two people—who have knowledge of relevant facts in the matter—must file. Or one person may file along with an affidavit from a physician (or another medical professional) who can attest to your family member’s incapacitation.
Process of Getting Appointed as Guardian/Conservator in Georgia
Once a petition has been filed, a court-appointed physician will perform an independent evaluation and provide a written report to the court. A final hearing takes place and a decision is made regarding the appointment.
Contact an attorney to learn more about the process of petitioning for guardianship/conservatorship. Legal counsel can also help file a personal injury claim. Contact Jason R. Schultz if you are in the Atlanta area by calling 404-474-0804 or fill out our contact form.