If your loved one is too injured or has passed away due to the actions of an organization, you may be able to file on their behalf.
Can You File a Lawsuit on Behalf of Someone Else?
If a person is harmed by another person or corporation, they may be able to file a tort claim against that person or corporation. A tort claim is a civil lawsuit that can be initiated to hold another party responsible for the harm or wrongdoing they did to someone else. Usually, the person who is harmed files the tort claim, but that may not always be possible.
If a person or corporation has harmed you or a loved one, you should find legitimate legal help to help you file your claim. An experienced legal professional can answer your questions and explain how to file a tort claim, whether it is for yourself or a loved one.
Can You Sue on Behalf of Someone Else?
Sometimes the person who is harmed is unable to file a lawsuit. But what happens then? Can you file a lawsuit on behalf of someone else? The answer depends on the person who was harmed and your relationship with them.
You may be able to sue on behalf of someone else in the following situations:
- The person is mentally or physically incapacitated
- You are a legal guardian
- You have power of attorney
- You are the executor of their estate
- You are filing a wrongful death claim
- You are a parent of a minor
Explore each one of these circumstances below.
Plaintiff is Incapacitated
You can sue on behalf of someone else if they are incapacitated, depending on your relationship with the incapacitated person. Some accidents can result in a victim being mentally or physically incapacitated, meaning that they may not be able to pursue their potential tort claim on their own.
However, a person being incapacitated doesn’t give anyone the right to sue on their behalf. Generally, that power must be given to someone, either by the person before their incapacitation or by the court. If you want to sue on behalf of someone who is incapacitated, you may have to ask the court to give you that power. While the laws vary by state, you would most likely be asking the court to name you as the person’s guardian.
Power of Attorney or Executor of the Estate
A person may give you the right to sue on their behalf via a power of attorney. According to the American Bar Association, power of attorney “gives one or more persons the power to act on your behalf as your agent.” The agent only has those powers granted to them. This means that you may need to have an attorney check the power of attorney form to see if you have the right to sue on their behalf. A person may grant someone power of attorney to act on their behalf should they become incapacitated. This is commonly done during end-of-life planning.
An executor of the estate is authorized by the court to administer a deceased person’s estate and to act on behalf of the estate. If you are the executor of a victim’s estate, you have the legal authority to file a lawsuit on behalf of the estate.
“Next Friend” Lawsuits
You can sue on behalf of someone else even if you haven’t been named guardian, named executor, or been granted power of attorney, so long as you are filing a “next friend” lawsuit.
According to Cornell Law School, a “next friend” is “someone who appears in court in place of another who is not competent to do so, usually because they are a minor or are considered incompetent.” The next friend is “considered an agent of the court whose role is to protect the rights of the incompetent person.” If you have a friend or relative who is incapacitated and has been injured by the negligence of a corporation, you may be able to file a lawsuit on their behalf.
Wrongful Death Claims
A wrongful death claim is a lawsuit brought against a person or corporation that may have caused a person’s death. The executor of the estate or a close family member, like a spouse or child of the deceased, typically files the wrongful death claim. For example, a surviving spouse may file a wrongful death claim against the manufacturer of Roundup if they believe that the weed killer caused their spouse’s death.
A wrongful death claim is a type of personal injury claim. This means that to file a wrongful death claim, you will most likely need the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer.
Plaintiff is a Minor
Adults are not the only ones who are harmed by people and corporations. Minors are often victims of others’ negligence. However, minors do not have the legal capacity to bring a lawsuit on their own. If the plaintiff is a minor, a parent or legal guardian may bring a lawsuit on their behalf.
For example, parents have filed lawsuits on behalf of newborns who suffered developmental and other health problems from exposure to opioids. The class action lawsuit for neonatal abstinence syndrome names children born addicted to opioids as victims.
What Do I Need to File a Lawsuit on Behalf of Someone Else?
If you are going to file a lawsuit on behalf of someone else, your lawyer will advise you regarding the documentation that you need to gather and help you obtain the information that you need.
However, you don’t have to wait to meet with a lawyer to start gathering documentation and resources. The most important documents demonstrate your relationship with the victim and provide evidence supporting the victim’s claim. Documents establishing your relationship may include a marriage license, a power of attorney, or guardianship forms. Evidence that supports the claim will vary depending on the injury. You will most likely need to obtain medical records. If you allege that a product caused their injury, you may want to gather proof that the victim used the product.
Guardian Legal Network Is Here To Help
You don’t have to navigate the legal process alone. Contact the Guardian Legal Network today for assistance navigating the legal process and pursuing justice for your loved ones.
- “Rule 1.14 Client With Diminished Capacity – Comment.” American Bar Association, https://www.americanbar.org/groups/professional_responsibility/publications/model_rules_of_professional_conduct/rule_1_14_client_with_diminished_capacity/comment_on_rule_1_14/. Accessed November 3, 2022.
- “Power of Attorney.” American Bar Association, https://www.americanbar.org/groups/real_property_trust_estate/resources/estate_planning/power_of_attorney/. Accessed November 3, 2022.
- “The Probate Process.” American Bar Association, https://www.americanbar.org/groups/real_property_trust_estate/resources/estate_planning/the_probate_process/. Accessed November 3, 2022.
- “Next friend.” Cornell Law School, https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/next_friend#:~:text=Someone%20who%20appears%20in%20court,minor%20or%20are%20considered%20incompetent. Accessed November 3, 2022.