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Can a Friend or Relative File an Injury Claim on My Behalf?

Many injured victims find solace in the fact that the American legal system gives them a chance to seek justice and financial damages through filing injury claims or lawsuits against the parties who injured them. However, that right often depends on the victims being capable of filing claims or lawsuits on their own—or at least, being capable of choosing attorneys to handle the legal process for them.

Unfortunately, many victims are mentally incapacitated by their injuries. They may be in comas, suffering from traumatic brain injuries, or dealing with psychological problems that make it difficult or impossible to file a claim or lawsuit with or without a lawyer’s help. Meanwhile, their medical bills may keep piling up, and the weeks and months they’re not earning paychecks keep ticking by.

Thankfully, friends and relatives of injured victims can file injury claims or lawsuits on their behalf as long as certain legal procedures and considerations are met and followed.

They Must Get Power of Attorney

A Power of Attorney (POA) is a legal document that grants someone the authority to act on behalf of another person in legal matters. If the injured person had previously designated a trusted friend or family member as their agent through a valid POA, that individual can consult with an attorney and make legal decisions, including initiating a personal injury claim.

The attorney’s guidance assists in assembling essential case details and drafting necessary legal documents. With the attorney’s support, the individual holding POA initiates the lawsuit, representing the incapacitated person’s interests and navigating the legal proceedings on their behalf. This process prioritizes the best interests of the individual unable to represent themselves, aiming for a favorable resolution within the legal framework.

They Can Become Your Court-Appointed Guardian or Conservator

In situations where a Power of Attorney hasn’t been established and the injured person is incapacitated, the court may appoint a guardian or conservator. This appointed individual will have the legal authority to handle the injured person’s affairs, including consulting with a lawyer and filing a personal injury claim on their behalf.

Together, they gather pertinent information, draft necessary legal documents, and initiate the lawsuit on behalf of the incapacitated individual. Throughout the legal proceedings, the guardian or conservator acts as the legal representative, advocating for the best interests of the person they represent and ensuring that all steps taken align with their well-being and the pursuit of justice.

They Are Considered the “Next Friend”

“Next friend” is a legal term referring to an individual who represents someone else, typically in court proceedings, when that person is unable to represent themselves. This representation often occurs when the incapacitated individual is a minor or lacks the mental capacity to handle their own legal affairs.

The “next friend” acts on behalf of the incapacitated individual in legal matters, such as initiating lawsuits, defending against legal actions, or making decisions related to legal proceedings. This representation is usually based on the belief that the next friend is acting in the best interest of the incapacitated person.

The next friend essentially serves as a legal representative, ensuring that the rights and interests of the incapacitated person are protected within the legal system. Their role is to act in the incapacitated individual’s best interest and make decisions that align with what the person would likely choose if they were capable of doing so.

Things to Consider When Appointing Someone Else Power of Attorney

While a severe injury isn’t something you can predict, it is important to already have an established Power of Attorney, much like it’s important to have a will prepared even if you are in good health.

In the unfortunate instance you need someone to act on your behalf due to any future incapacitation, there are several complicating factors to consider when selecting your POA:

  • Interpretation of Your Wishes: The person representing you might interpret your preferences differently than you intended. Misinterpretation or misunderstanding of your wishes could impact the lawsuit.
  • Conflicting Interests: The representative may have their own views or interests that differ from yours. This conflict could affect the choices made during the lawsuit.
  • Unforeseen Legal Complexities: Lawsuits can take unexpected turns. New evidence, legal arguments, or procedural complexities may arise, potentially impacting the case strategy.
  • Communication Challenges: If you have limited ability to communicate, relaying complex or nuanced information to the person representing you might be challenging. This could lead to misunderstandings or incomplete information being conveyed to the attorney.
  • Medical Decision Conflicts: If the lawsuit involves medical decisions or treatments, there might be disagreements between medical professionals, your representative, and potentially even family members.
  • Unexpected Emotional Stress: Litigation can be emotionally draining, both for the person representing you and for your family. Be prepared for unexpected emotional stress and potential conflicts that may arise during the legal process.
  • Changes in Circumstances: Your condition or circumstances might change during the lawsuit. This could necessitate alterations in legal strategies or decisions regarding the case.

Our Oklahoma Personal Injury Lawyers Are Here to Help

At Parrish DeVaughn Injury Lawyers, we know that the people who suffer serious injuries aren’t always the people who file injury claims or lawsuits. While it’s important for incapacitated victims to have a chance of getting the money they deserve, having another person file a claim or lawsuit on their behalf can create an entirely new set of challenges.

Our Oklahoma City personal injury attorneys have built and won injury claims and lawsuits in all kinds of circumstances, including those filed by necessity by friends and relatives of victims. If you or someone you love needs legal representation after an injury, don’t hesitate to contact us to get a free case review.