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Could I be named in a lawsuit if my 88 y.o. father with dementia is involved in an auto accident ?

Milwaukee, WI |

My 88 y.o. father who has been diagnosed with dementia and has had his driving privileges recently cancelled due to an accident is still driving and refuses to stop despite talks from his doctor, the police and me.

Attorney Answers 5

  1. Best answer

    If he is neither driving your vehicle(s) nor living in your household, it would seem you are not at much risk for being sued. If you are concerned that he presents a danger to himself or others, you can seek court intervention under Chapter 55 of the WI statutes.

    55.075  Protective services or protective placement; petition. Except as provided in s. 971.14 (6) (b):

    (1) Who may petition. The department, the county department or an agency with which the county department contracts under s. 55.02 (2), a guardian, or an interested person may file a petition for appointment of a guardian and for protective services or protective placement for an individual. The department shall provide for a schedule of reimbursement for the cost of the proceedings based upon the ability to pay of the proposed ward or individual to be protected.

    (2) Contents of petition.

    (a) A petition shall allege that the individual meets the standards specified in s. 55.08 (1) or (2) and state with particularity the factual basis for the allegations.

    (b) The petition shall be based on personal knowledge of the individual alleged to need protective placement or protective services.

    55.08  Protective services or protective placement: standards.
    (2) Protective services. A court may under s. 55.12 order protective services for an individual who meets all of the following standards:

    (a) The individual has been determined to be incompetent by a circuit court or is a minor who is alleged to have a developmental disability and on whose behalf a petition for a guardianship has been submitted.

    (b) As a result of developmental disability, degenerative brain disorder, serious and persistent mental illness, or other like incapacities, the individual will incur a substantial risk of physical harm or deterioration or will present a substantial risk of physical harm to others if protective services are not provided.

    You can call the State Bar Lawyer Referral & Information service at 1(800) 362-9082 for a referral to an Elder Law attorney in your area with whom you can discuss this confidentially.

    As hard a thing as this may be to do, it will be easier than taking a phone call from law enforcement after a crash causing injury or worse to himself or someone else. Good luck.

    This answer is provided for general information only. No legal advice can be given without a consult as to the specifics of the case.

  2. If he's driving your car you can be sued. Otherwise I don't see how you could be named. You're not responsible just because you tried, and failed, to get him to stop. Hopefully he doesn't injure himself or someone else. Good luck

  3. How is he getting access to a car; something doesn't seem kosher here.

    Personal injury cases only; I'm good at it; you be the Judge! All information provided is for informational and educational purposes only. No attorney client relationship has been formed or should be inferred. Please speak with a local and qualified attorney. I truly wish you and those close to you all the best. Jeff

  4. If you fail to take the necessary steps to prevent him from driving the answer is yes.

  5. So long as your father has his own insurance coverage and is driving his own car, you cannot be sued for his actions. Where is your father living? What sorts of arrangements are being made to ensure that this type of behavior does not continue? I would consider pursuing further legal options that can be used to stop your father. As well, consider what changes can be made to the quality and quantity of care he is receiving that may assist in limiting his access to car keys and a vehicle.

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