Who is legally responsible for the safety of someone battling chemical dependency issues?

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Who is legally responsible for the safety of someone battling chemical dependency issues?

My girlfriend’s father has been having major issues with chemical dependency. He has been in and out the hospital several times. He was even admitted to a hospital, and given pain killers, even after it had been determined by county services that there is an issue with drug use. He was admitted to a 30 day treatment program against his will by the court system. He was released and ended up in the hospital again several days later and was supposed to be in for 6 months. They just released him after 2 months, and appears to be using again. Who is responsible for his care, since he is not?

Asked on August 2, 2010 under Malpractice Law, Minnesota

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If he has not been adjudicated incompetent and had some guardian appointed for him, then he is still responsible for his treatment. All adults, as long as they are not incompetent, make their own decisions and bear the consequences for those decisions; and to be legally incompetent, there must be a court adjudication. If your girlfriend is concerned about her father and believes he may be incompetent, such as possibly due to addition or damage done by the chemical he's dependent on, she should consult with an attorney about whether there may be grounds for having him declared incompetent and establishing a guardian for  him. Be aware though that this is not an easy or inexpensive thing to do, especially if her father challenges it and seems cogent.


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