I haven't filed a claim against the drivers insurance company yet and am contemplating whether I should do so myself or hire an attorney.
Your son is an adult. It's his injury and his claim. You can certainly guide him and make recommendations but if a lawyer is needed, he's the one that has to hire him, not you. There is nothing in this claim for you. Your emotional difficulties as a result of your son's injuries are understandable but they are not compensable.
They have twice asked for him to authorize release of medical records which we have refused to date.
The other driver's insurance company has a right to the records if your son ever expects to have his claim processed as opposed to ignored. He'll have to sign the authorization sooner or later. Again, it's not up to you to refuse or agree. He's an adult. It's up to him.
(1) If I choose to file a claim on his behalf to I need a special power of attorney, since he is over 18?
Even if you had power of attorney you could not act for him in this claim. For one thing, the insurance company would not talk to you. Your son's an adult. For another, you'd be engaging in the unauthorized practice of law which could subject you to criminal prosecution.
(2) Other posts and sites refer to a BASE calculation for compensatory (pain, suffering) that suggest 2X to 3X medical bills. Is this reasonable? While he may have some ongoing medical needs asking for $200k - $300k seems a bit high.
I don't know why that myth is still around but it's not true. Each claim is based on its own merits. For example, if your son's medical costs were over 100,000 and he was permanently disabled where he could never work again, it could run into millions. If he fully recovered after a few months, the pain and suffering portion could be only a few thousand.
There is no way to even begin to figure the pain and suffering portion of the claim until your son is completed recovered with no residual issues or has reached maximum medical improvement and a percentage disability can be computed.
(3) If there are compensatory damages do those go do my son or can they be held in trust?
To your son. He's an adult. Unless you intend to have a court declare him incompentent and appoint you conservator, then it's his money, to do with as he pleases.
Wouldn't want him to buy a brand new red convertible with it!
After all those months of suffering, he's entitled to a red convertible if that's what he wants. Hopefully you've raised him with enough common sense to use just part of the money for an inexpensive older red convertible instead of a 2010 Shelby GT500 Mustang Cobra red convertible (with white racing stripes).
(4) Does the size of a claim impact whether I should hire an attorney or is determined by other factors?
Well, yes and yes.
While it never hurts to consult an attorney and review your options, it isn't all that critical to run out and hire one until you see which way the insurance company's wind is blowing.
I'd be happy to provide you with some suggestions based on my professional experience as a claim rep as the claim progresses.
For the moment, here are a few.
1 - Have him go ahead and sign the authorization for the medical records. It's probably going to take a month or more for the insurance company to round them all up and then all they will do is sit on them until it's time to settle.
By then you might have an update regarding his medical progress.
2 - Since he was a passenger in the car I'm guessing that he was fairly well acquanted with the driver. See if he can find out what the driver's Bodily Injury Liability limits are (per person and per accident). A copy of the cover page of the policy would be nice.
Come back and report those limits.
Then let's continue this discussion. Please keep the discussion to this thread and don't open new ones. Adding to this one brings it to the top of the active list and I'm here every day to see it.