Bringing A Lawsuit On Someone Else's Behalf
Posted On behalf of Pfeifer Morgan & Stesiak on Mar 13, 2012 in Personal Liability
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. If you or a family member has been injured in an accident contact one of the South Bend personal injury attorneys at Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak today for a free consultation.
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 only by the personal representative of the deceased’s estate. However, damages can be awarded to immediate family members including:
- Legal guardian of children if both parents are deceased
In some cases, the parties who were left to pay for medical or funeral expenses can also bring these lawsuits, even if they are of no relation to the deceased.
Filing a lawsuit on behalf of a deceased family member must be done within a certain period of time, as mandated by Indiana’s statute of limitations. Wrongful death lawsuits must be filed within two years from the date the death occurred. If the case is not filed within this time, it will be dismissed by court and you will be barred from receiving compensation on behalf of the departed.
2. If the plaintiff is incapacitated. This type of case can only be brought if the plaintiff has signed over power of attorney privileges to the party bringing the case to court. When a person signs over power of attorney, he or she is allowing that person to make medical decisions, handle legal and financial matters, and make other important decisions on his or her behalf because he or she is not physically present or does not have the mental capacity to do these things.
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. Children are often more prone to injury than adults. This is true for a variety of reasons: kids do not have the best judgment, they may get into dangerous situations without realizing it and they may take more risks than adults.
Children can suffer injuries from defective toys and household items, while outside playing (such as on a playground), or while in or around the pool. Children could suffer various injuries in these situations, such as:
- Burn injuries
- Broken bones
If the child’s injury was the result of another’s negligence, there may be grounds for legal action. In general, only parents or legal guardians can sue on the behalf of minors, who are people under the age of 18. The proceeds of the settlement belong to the minor and must be used for his or her needs. The adult handling the minor’s property must keep detailed records of this because the child is entitled to the settlement money when he or she turns 18.
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 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.
Contact an Attorney Today to Discuss Legal Options
If you are considering filing a lawsuit on behalf of someone else, whether it is a family member or the principal of power of attorney, do not hesitate to contact a skilled lawyer from Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak. We can guide you through the entire legal process and fight for maximum compensation.