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Can You Receive Compensation for a Family Member's Auto Accident Injuries?

  • Mar 01, 2022
  • The Harr Law Firm

Woman crying next to husband's hospital bed with doctor's hand on her shoulderWhen you are injured in a car accident and the other driver was at fault, it’s common for you to receive compensation for those injuries—either through a settlement with the other driver’s insurance company, or by pursuing a personal injury case in court. But what if you were not the one who was injured, and instead, it was your family member who suffered serious injuries in the accident? Are there any circumstances in which you can receive compensation on their behalf? Keep reading to learn more.

When the Victim Is a Minor

In any personal injury case where the victim is a minor, the child’s parent or legal guardian can pursue compensation on behalf of the child. Parents can seek damages for pain and suffering, permanent disability, emotional distress, and similar types of compensation for their child. Because a child cannot negotiate a settlement or pursue a legal case for themselves, the parent and/or their attorney will negotiate on their behalf. In some cases, recovered damages must be placed into a trust to ensure that they are only used for the child’s benefit, and not for the parent.

In addition to pursuing compensation on behalf of the child, the child’s parent can seek damages of their own related to medical bills. Obviously, most minors are not paying their own medical bills, so the financial losses relating to medical expenses fall on the parents or legal guardians. You can pursue repayment of those expenses in a separate case against the at-fault driver and their insurance company.

When the Victim Is Incapacitated

In cases where the victim’s injuries are severe enough that they are physically incapable of pursuing damages on their own, a person who is legally appointed to manage their affairs can pursue compensation for them. For example, let’s say that your spouse was hit by another driver and is now in a coma. According to your spouse’s living will, you can legally manage their affairs, and you have the right to act in their behalf and pursue a personally injury claim. Under these circumstances, you would be acting in the victim’s interests, negotiating a settlement that would be used to repay your spouse for their injuries, pain, and suffering.

Some family members may think that waiting until the victim wakes from their coma is the better option, giving the victim control over how the case would proceed. If your loved one is expected to recover from the coma quickly, this may be an option. However, it’s important to keep in mind that personal injury cases do have a statute of limitations, and you’ll want to pursue a case as soon as possible to ensure that it does not expire. Insurance companies often like to drag out claims, so you’ll want to get your loved one’s case started right away so that you can pursue legal action if the claim is denied.

Additionally, you should keep in mind that medical bills can add up quickly when your family member is in a coma; receiving compensation from a settlement or personal injury case can help you to cover these costs and continue to make ends meet.

When You’ve Experienced a Measurable Loss

As we mentioned earlier, parents can pursue repayment for the medical bills paid for a child’s injuries. But this is not the only way in which a victim’s family members can pursue compensation for their loved one’s injuries. If you have experienced some sort of measurable loss as the result of your family member being injured, you may be able to pursue your own personal injury case. You could seek damages for the following types of losses:

  • Loss of love and affection – This is often associated with wrongful death lawsuits, but can also occur in cases of traumatic brain injuries. In some cases, the victim may no longer recognize their loved ones due to their injury, or may be unable to express affection in the same way. This can be a devastating loss for the victim’s family.
  • Loss of companionship – If your loved one’s injury prevents them from returning to the same level of companionable activities as before, you have suffered a loss and can seek compensation for it.
  • Loss of financial support – For those who rely on the victim for financial support, the victim’s injuries can have serious long-term impacts on their own quality of life. If your loved one can’t return to work, you can seek damages for the loss of that support.
  • Loss of support – Financial support isn’t the only support you might lose. If your loved one is no longer able to help and support you with childcare, household work, and other tasks they used to help you with, you can seek damages.

If your loved one has been injured in a car accident, and you’re hoping to seek damages on their behalf or want to pursue a case for your own losses as a result of their injuries, contact The Harr Law Firm today.