If you are like most people, you will go through a period of shock and then intense sorrow upon hearing that a loved one has suffered a severe injury in a car crash. Anger, guilt and anxiety are also common emotional responses to the injury or incapacitation of a close family member or spouse. You may not really start to worry about the practical consequences of the crash for some time.
However, putting off dealing with the financial and legal realities of such an accident could leave your family at a disadvantage. If your loved one is not in a position to take legal action on their own, you may want to sit down with an attorney to talk about your options after a serious car wreck.
Civil action is possible under certain circumstances
Generally speaking, the law in Florida only allows a person who has suffered certain injuries to bring a lawsuit against the responsible individual or business. If that person does not want to bring civil action, other people in their life typically don't have the right to do so, even if the injury impacts their lives as well.
It is possible that after a major accident you may need to take action on behalf of your loved one. If they are in a coma or have suffered a debilitating brain injury that prevents them from making their own decisions, the courts may appoint someone to make those decisions on their behalf.
If your loved one already has a comprehensive estate plan, that estate plan could include medical power of attorney or financial power of attorney documents. The person named as a representative on behalf of your loved one in the power of attorney document could potentially bring legal action against the responsible party.
If your loved one dies, you may have rights as a survivor
In a worst-case scenario, your loved one may eventually pass away because of the injuries they suffered in the crash. If that happens, you will have the right to take action provided that you have a close relationship. Usually, under Florida law, only spouses, children or parents can bring wrongful death lawsuits. In the event that there are no close family members, the executor of the estate may also bring action against the person who caused the death.
You don't want to get so wound up in the emotional aspects of your loved one's injury that you fail to take care of practical concerns. Sitting down with a Florida personal injury attorney after an accident that affects your family can help you understand what rights you have and what rights your loved one has as accident victims.