Can by brother and I be sued because Mom won't accept help?

Follow
Share

Mom lives in Florida; my husband and I also live in Florida, but she is still in her home. We had a family meeting and we all asked her to please accept a caregiver to help her get to the store, doctors appointments, etc., because she has a bad leg, and doesn't get around very well; she also has dementia, and is often confused and repeats herself, over and over. If she gets in an accident, can the family be sued because we 'didn't do anything' about her dementia?

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
6

Answers

Show:
Even tho both my brother and I have POA?
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

If the doctor know she has dementia in an official capacity, he may seek to appoint a fiduciary for her social security benefits.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Whether you can be sued or not, you have to stop her from driving. If she hurts or kills someone, you certainly have some responsibility if you know she has dementia.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Technically, she can still drive; however, her friends have been picking her up for social events, because they are afraid she will go outside their gated community and get lost, or worse. So far, she seems to know where she is, but after a couple of incidents where she forgot who my brother's wife was when they came into town, we are feeling very uneasy. We have contacted her doctor, and she has an appointment this coming week. Thank you for your replies.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Wondergirl, I think the underlying issue is whether the family can be sued not b/c of inaction for the dementia but rather the effects of the dementia. It might help to think of this complex issue on that level.

First, as Jeanne asks, is your mother still driving and if so are her medical issues causing her to be an unsafe driver? If so, contact the FL governmental department that issues and revokes driving licenses. Do it anonymously if you feel she could find out and become angry with you.

The department can call her in for a driving test, and if appropriate, revoke her license. When you notify her auto insurance carrier, it will likely cancel her insurance.

Second, meanwhile, get information on assistance for trips and have a plan ready to step in ASAP if her license is revoked. This is the "iffy" aspect - whether she'll agree to accept that assistance. Her first response might be to angrily ask how she's expected to get around if she can't drive. Be ready to step in with concrete solutions to nullify that argument.

Third, has she been in any accidents and if so, did the responding police officer make any suggestions about cessation of driving?

Fourth, giving up driving is a significant loss of freedom and a cogent reminder that one is losing skills enjoyed throughout adult life. It's a physical and mental limitation that's hard to accept.

Figure out a way to compensate for that - when family takes her someplace, make it a special outing and memory event so she begins to associate (to the extent possible with dementia) the two events.

I used visits to the Dairy Queen during summer to compensate for the loss of driving abilities. Sometimes I'll take a leisurely sight seeing route to help my father relax after other outings, especially boring medical ones.

Fifth, as to the legal issues of liability for failure to act, do you have authority to do so under a DPOA? I honestly don't know but hope that one of the resident legal experts would address the issue of liability of a DPOA proxy who tried to act but was thwarted by the principal. Theoretically, you might have to physically restrain her, and that's not going to address the underlying issues.

Sixth, are you listed as co-owners on the vehicle title? As insureds on the vehicle insurance? If the former, you definitely could have liability as you could be named in any suit for damages. (I'm not going to get into the more specific issues of negligence or contributory negligence on the part of other drivers).

A lot of people make the mistake of thinking anyone can file a suit for damages arising from accidents. That's true to the extent of being able to file. That DOES NOT mean that the suit would be sustained. Defense counsel could move for dismissal and that might be granted, depending on the issues.

There's also the issue of any payouts an insurance carrier may make and whether or not damages exceed the policy limits.

So, yes, there is potential liability, but it really would depend on those factors - the policy limits, the extent of injury and damage, and of course the jurisdiction and whether potential jurors are pro-plaintiff or pro-defendant.

I don't know whether this is still the case, but decades ago in Michigan an attorney had a choice of venue (legal jurisdiction in which a case could be filed) and could file in the county in which the plaintiff resided, or the county in which the defendant resided, or in which the accident occurred. Naturally plaintiff attorneys chose the county with the best history of awards for plaintiffs.
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

Is she still driving?
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Related
Questions