Bringing A Lawsuit On Someone Else's Behalf
Posted On behalf of Pfeifer Morgan & Stesiak on Mar 13, 2012 in Indiana Law
Usually, personal injury attorneys will work directly with the plaintiff in a personal injury or medical malpractice suit, though there are often cases where a lot of help from family members or friends is needed, because of the extent of the injuries.
However, there are a few rare occasions when a lawsuit is necessary, but the injured party can't bring the case to court for their self.
Here are a few scenarios in which this could happen:
1. Wrongful death cases. Naturally, in this case, the wronged party cannot bring the case to court. Indiana law allows for wrongful death cases to be brought to court generally only by immediate family members (spouse or children), who bear the greatest financial burden from the wrongful death.
In some cases, the parties who were left to pay for medical or funeral expenses can also bring these suits, even if they are of no relation to the deceased.
2. If the plaintiff is incapacitated. This can only be brought to bear if the plaintiff has signed over power of attorney privileges to the party bringing the case to court. The most common time that this occurs is if the plaintiff is of advanced age, and has already given power of attorney to a family member, in case of medical issues in which they may be unable to make decisions on their own.
3. If the plaintiff is a minor. In general, only parents or legal guardians can sue on the behalf of minors.
4. Class action cases. A class action suit is brought for a large group of people (called a "class") who may have been injured or in some way harmed by a single entity or group of entities. (A common example would be in the case of a defective medication, which causes harm to several people who are otherwise unrelated to each other.)
Often a law firm or consumer advocacy group with be the initiating party in a class action suit. You can "join" a class by filing the appropriate paperwork. It's best to have your own attorney to consult in cases such as this, in order to help you sort out the best course of action which will work to your advantage. If you've been injured by a product or malfeasance by a corporation or government entity, ask your attorney about the costs and benefits of joining a class action suit. The downside of doing so is that accepting an award for a class action excludes your being able to sue individually in the future.
The bottom line is that cases where you're able to sue on someone else's behalf are rare, but as in all personal injury cases, consulting with an attorney is the first step in finding out the necessary steps to take, and the most advisable course of action.