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My brother suffered a traumatic brain injury and is unable to work. Where do we start?

Seattle, WA |

He was a crime victim, and is now in a brain trauma rehab facility. He pays child support, and does not have a designated health care surrogate or person with power of attorney. Our mother is elderly and likely can't cope with all of the decisions such as financial, health or those related to the criminal case. Where do we start?

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Sorry to hear about your brother’s tragic assault. While your brother does not appear to be elderly, you should start with a local elder law attorney because it appears that he needs a guardianship established in the county where he currently resides. Also, given his condition someone needs to apply for social security disability on his behalf. Further, someone needs to contact his employer to see if he is eligible for short or long term disability. Lastly, many states have victim compensation programs so check with the agency that is prosecuting people who assaulted him.

Good luck.

DISCLAIMER: David J. McCormick is licensed to practice law in the State of Wisconsin and this answer is being provided for informational purposes only because the laws of your jurisdiction may differ. This answer based on general legal principles and is not intended for the purpose of providing specific legal advice or opinions. Under no circumstances does this answer constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship.


While I wholeheartedly agree with the prior attorney. You do need help from an elder law attorney and perhaps a disability attorney. The threshold question is whether the brain injury effects your brother's capacity. If it does you may not be able to get documents in place and will have to pursue either a guardianship or conservatorship (these terms are often used interchangeably from state to state). Additionally, if your brother's condition is such that it will be a long-term and permanent disability he likely will be applying for SSDI and eventually Medicare. Medicaid and perhaps SSI may also prove to be necessary at some point. Depending on what benefits he is entitled steps may be necessary to ensure that he does not lose them at some point in the future. As such it would probably be a good idea to have your parent's estate plan reviewed to make sure that it does not cause any future harm to his benefits. Again, an elder law attorney can assist you with this as well.

Richard Scott Stewart

Richard Scott Stewart


One other thing that should be addressed -- you should also contact a family law attorney about reducing your brother's support obligations. These amounts will continue to accrue until a court reduces them.


I am not in your State but am sorry to read the situation. I agree with my brother attorneys' responses. When you speak to an attorney have them look at the facts of the crime which caused the injury. Perhaps there is someone that has liability besides the culprit such as a failure to maintain security, etc. Good luck and I am sorry again.

I am an Arizona attorney. AVVO does not pay us for our responses. Simply because I responded to your question does not mean I am your attorney. In Arizona a non-lawyer is held to the same standards as an attorney so there are dangers to representing yourself. This is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice. If you require legal assistance an in depth discussion of your case is needed as there are many other issues to consider such as defenses, statute of limitations, etc.


You should contact a personal injury attorney ASAP--today. These cases are highly complicated and the legal issues are broad and diverse. Speaking with an attorney will make sure that your brother's rights are protected and that his recovery is maximized to the fullest extent allowed by law.

If this information has been helpful, please indicate below. DISCLAIMER: This information is for general information purposes only. Nothing stated above should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. Scott W. Edwards Attorney at Law Schauermann Thayer Jacobs & Staples 1700 E. Fourth Plain Blvd. Vancouver, WA 98661 PHONE: (360) 695-4244 FAX: (360) 696-0583 E-MAIL:


This is a truly unfortunate situation for your brother. As others have suggested, you need to speak with an attorney soon about the situation. I suggest you find one attorney to investigate the facts surrounding your brother's personal injury and whether there is a legitimate claim. Second, a different attorney (generally, most attorneys do not cross-over between these two areas of law) to investigate whether a guardianship (I'm assuming he is an adult) may be needed for your brother.

This comment is made as general information and is in no way to be considered legal advice. Attorney's making such comments have no information beyond the information provided in the question presented. Additional information is necessary before an attorney can give specific advice. Please seek legal counsel.


For brain trama info go to:

Power of Attorney

Because of decreased cognitive and functional abilities, your family member with TBI may need you or another person to be named Power of Attorney to act for him or her in legal and financial issues. Check to see if your family member has already created a Power of Attorney (POA). A Power of Attorney (POA) is a written document in which a competent person, the principal, appoints another person, the agent, to act for him or her in legal and financial matters. In legal terms, a person is competent when he or she is able to reason and make decisions.

There are different types of POAs:
•A general power allows the agent to do any act or exercise any power on the principal’s behalf. Only use a general power when a special power is insufficient.
•A specific or special power limits the agent’s authority to only the act or acts listed in the POA document.
•A durable power of attorney permits the agent to continue to act on the principal’s behalf if he or she is incapacitated.

A Power of Attorney is created when the principal (your family member) signs a notarized document that legally authorizes another person to act on his or her behalf.

Most POAs last from a definite start time to a specific end time, but they may be created to last for an indefinite period. A POA can be revoked at any time for any reason. There are two ways to revoke a POA:
•By destroying the original document; and/or
•By executing a “Revocation of Power of Attorney” form and sending a certified copy to any financial institution or company where your agent has conducted business on your behalf. A Guardian can override or revoke a POA.


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