Following a catastrophic injury, it may seem that there is no real recourse an individual can take. In fact, it may seem that the situation is hopeless especially if the injured party is incapacitated and incapable of contacting legal counsel themselves.
However, if someone you love has sustained an injury, there are legal actions you can take. If a loved one, has sustained a catastrophic injury, you can retain the services of a Boynton Beach catastrophic injury lawyer. A capable personal injury lawyer can advocate for the injured party and assure that their rights are respected.
What Is A Catastrophic Injury?
A catastrophic injury, in a medical malpractice case, is defined a little differently than a non-medical malpractice case. In a medical malpractice case, Florida statute defines a catastrophic injury as:
- A permanent impairment, constituted by either a spinal cord injury involving severe paralysis of an arm or leg or the trunk
- Amputation of an arm, a hand, a foot or a leg involving the effective loss of use of that appendage
- Severe brain or closed head injury, which could be evidenced by severe sensory or motor disturbances, severe communication disturbances, severe complex integrated disturbances of cerebral function, severe episodic neurologic disorders or other severe brain disorders
- Closed head injury conditions
- Second and third degree burns over more than 25% or more of the body surface, or third degree burns over more than 5% of the face and hands
- Loss of reproductive organs
All of those are considered a catastrophic injury under Florida law. Catastrophic injuries differ from personal injuries because catastrophic injuries are long-term and often permanent, whereas other injuries heal over time.
If a person is unable to maintain gainful employment because of their injury, there is a strong argument that the injury is catastrophic. In the context of a workers’ compensation case, if a person’s injury is deemed catastrophic or they are unable to maintain gainful employment, they may be entitled to permanent, total disability payments.
Should I Acquire Legal Counsel?
If a loved one lacks the capacity to hire a lawyer, a family member may contact an attorney on their behalf as Guardian or next friend. The rules regulating the Florida Bar have specific rules for lawyers to follow regarding disabled clients.
Florida Rules of Professional Conduct state that when a client’s ability to make adequately considered decisions in connection with representation is impaired, whether because of minority, mental disability or for some other reason, the lawyer shall, as far as reasonably possible, maintain a normal client-lawyer relationship with the client. The lawyer may seek the appointment of a guardian or take other protective action with respect to a client when a lawyer reasonably believes that the client cannot adequately act on the client’s own interest.
If a legal representative has been appointed to that client, the Boynton Beach catastrophic injury lawyer should ordinarily look to the representative for decisions on behalf of the client. If the legal representative has not been appointed, the lawyer should seek such an appointment where it would serve the client’s best interest.
What If My Loved One Has Been Injured?
A family member of an injured or incapacitated person may be entitled to be appointed as a Guardian to make legal decisions on behalf of that person. If a family member contacts a Boynton Beach catastrophic injury lawyer on behalf of an incapacitated person who was injured, the lawyer has to assess whether they believe an appointment of Guardian would serve their client’s best interest for the Florida Rules of Professional Conduct discussed above.
If a person is unexpectedly injured and becomes incapacitated, the first question is whether that person has executed a Power of Attorney which designates someone to act on their behalf. If there is no duly executed Power of Attorney, the next step is to have someone designated as Conservator or Guardian to the incapacitated person through the circuit court of the county where the incapacitated person resides.
Incapacitation can be permanent or temporary. There is no hard line that defines incapacitation. It will be the lawyer’s judgment call whether to have a Guardian appointed for someone who they believe is incapacitated. An incapacitated person means a person who has been judicially determined to lack the capacity and ability to manage some of their property or to meet at least some of the essential health and safety requirements of the person.
Contact Our Boynton Beach Catastrophic Injury Lawyers Today
In instances where an individual has sustained a catastrophic injury, it is important to work with someone who has experience working with incapacitated individuals, and who will be able to help the individual’s Guardian make informed decisions with regards to the care of the individual. An adept lawyer can fight on behalf of the incapacitated party, in order to make sure that their rights are protected and that responsible parties are held accountable. If you or someone you know has sustained a catastrophic injury, get in touch with a Boynton Beach catastrophic injury lawyer.