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My ward has mental health issues. When in treatment is highly functional. Am I held liable if she resumes driving her own car?

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The illness hit at 32 years of age, 10 years ago, an independent working registered nurse. I became guardian of her person & for medical & psychiatric treatment about 6 years ago when she was endangering her own life. Has had 15 hospitalizations over 10 year period. When in successful treatment (as is currently) she seems able to make most of her decisions well such as paying bills (I'm her rep payee for Social Security but not guardian of her estate, which is small), buying groceries, performs all activities of daily living independently. Now she wants to drive her own car. Am I legally liable if she has an accident causing someone else injury or death? If so how can I protect myself as well as her estate? OR How can I safely give her some of the freedom she craves while she is doing well

Attorney Answers 2


  1. You could be held liable for any damages that she causes. When you were appointed guardian your "ward" was declared legally incompetent by a Court of law. Therefore you should have the ward evaluated to determine whether she is competent and if a medical doctor determines the ward is able to manage her own affairs petition the court to terminate the guardianship.

    If the professional determines she is not capable of managing her own affairs, then prevent the ward from driving.

    Disclaimer: this information does not create an attorney/client relationship.


  2. I agree with Mr. Brockett and would like to add that you should also speak to your automobile insurance agent about coverage. Your agent may be able to tell you what they need for documentation regarding your ward's competency or if she's insurable at all.

    DISCLAIMER: Any information contained herein is intended for general informational purposes only. The information should not be construed as legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Any response given does not result in any further obligation to provide an additional response. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.