Conservatorship for Your Loved One After a Traumatic Brain Injury
Conservatorship is when a person is chosen to make decisions regarding a another’s finances and/or medical care in the event he or she becomes incapacitated. As a personal injury attorney from a law firm like Cohen & Cohen can explain, sometimes, a person suffers a traumatic brain injury, in which cognitive impairments become a permanent condition. If someone is unable to manage finances or make sound decisions for health care, then a family member or suitable professional may be appointed by the court to handle these affairs.
Those who have a loved one that recently suffered a brain injury, may wonder if it is time to appoint a conservator. Here we have answered a few of the most common questions family members have about how conservatorship is decided, the symptoms of a traumatic brain injury, and if it is also time to hire an attorney.
How is conservatorship decided?
In general, conservators are chosen by the court system. If the person who suffered a brain injury did not make prior arrangements in case a situation like this were to arise, may then be appointed a conservator instead. The courts do not typically take such cases lightly, as facts about the person’s condition are evaluated in order to determine whether a conservator is or is not required. There are a few main factors when the courts are deciding if a person has become incapacitated due to the brain injury:
- If the person can carry on participating in normal everyday tasks, or needs assistance
- If the person can make reasonable decisions in regards to health and/or finances
- If the person can effectively communicate his or her wishes and preferences
What are the signs of a traumatic brain injury?
A traumatic brain injury can vary from mild, to severe and life-threatening. Mild cases of brain injury such as a first-time concussion, is unlikely to result in permanent cognitive challenges. However, other conditions such as brain swelling or bleeding, can cause life-long impairments if emergency medical care is not sought promptly. A person who has suffered a terrible accident may show the following symptoms if they have a severe traumatic brain injury:
- Slurred speech
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Intense and relentless headache
- Problems reading and/or writing
- Clear fluid draining from ears and nose
- Becoming unconscious for any length of time
- Speaking rapidly or slowly
- Not understanding what others are saying
- Blurry, partial or total loss of vision
- Increased sensitivity to sounds
When is conservatorship not necessary?
A person with a temporary traumatic brain injury that is predicted to have a full recovery is unlikely to need a conservator. Appointing a conservator should be taken very seriously, as it may not be helpful for cases where the person is only going to get better with time. Conservatorship may be most appropriate for those who will have life-long impairments.
Should I hire an attorney that is knowledgeable in conservatorship?
It can be emotional to accept that a family member may require another person to take care of finances and health care decisions. Family members of the person with the traumatic brain injury may consider meeting with an attorney who is experienced with conservatorship, for insight and guidance.