Elderly drivers carry a fair amount of accident risk when they choose to get behind the wheel. In 2020, nearly 5,000 individuals over the age of 70 died in car crashes, many of which stemmed from problems connected with aging and slowed reflexes.
Sharing the road with elderly drivers carries a certain amount of risk, and if you were injured in a crash involving such a motorist, then you may want to reach out to an attorney experienced in age-related cases so you can ask some important questions and understand why crashes involving elderly drivers sometimes have common causes.
The Risks of Driving As a Senior
Senior drivers enjoy independence as they retain their ability to drive, with many choosing to stay behind the wheel well past the age of 70. However, this choice is not without its risks, as aging can cause a decline in several different senses that could impact their ability to drive, including:
- Decision making
As senior drivers continue to age, these crucial senses may also continue to decline, which may raise the risk of causing an accident. Older drivers may not see well at night or have trouble navigating in the rain. In addition, they may find highway driving more difficult as they age, as driving on crowded freeways requires the ability to make quick decisions and precise directional movements, such as positioning the vehicle to take an exit ramp. Cognitive decline can affect these abilities and cause accidents as senior drivers fail to make choices in time or become confused about which lane they should travel in. Accident risk typically increases with each year.
Common Senior Driver Accident Causes
Many senior driver accidents have common threads and causes connected with age. Some older drivers take certain medications that may affect their ability to stay safe behind the wheel, while others refuse to give up their vehicles despite a decline in cognitive ability. While it is generally understood that driving a vehicle gives seniors a sense of independence and freedom, not all can do so in a way that keeps other drivers around them safe. As a result, this can cause several different types of accidents, including:
- Striking your vehicle at an intersection
- Failing to yield
- Driving too slowly
- Weaving into your lane
These actions may cause moderate to serious accidents, especially if the driving senior makes a decision too late and strikes your vehicle. Once an accident occurs and causes you injury and damage to your vehicle, contacting an attorney can help guide you through the lawsuit process.
Gauging Case Validity
Presenting the details of your accident to an attorney experienced in cases involving elderly drivers may give you improved insight as to whether your case is valid. The initial consult usually satisfies this question, and your attorney may ask you a few questions about the accident, including:
- Where did the crash take place?
- Did you have the right of way?
- Was the elderly driver cited for any moving violations?
- What driving challenges present, if any, might have contributed to the crash?
The more details you can provide, the better your attorney can gauge whether you can move ahead with a lawsuit and take the next steps to build a solid case.
Gathering Proof and Evidence
Your attorney will lay the foundation of your case by gathering evidence regarding the accident. This includes obtaining police reports, insurance adjuster’s findings, and reviewing photos of your damaged vehicle. The lawyer may even visit the crash site to collect other types of evidence, such as the presence of skid marks on the road or debris that may help prove the direction in which the elderly driver traveled. You can assist your attorney’s efforts by providing different types of documentation like medical records, photos of your damaged vehicle and any insurance claims you filed.
Your attorney may also speak with any witnesses present that day and gather proof that the elderly driver caused your accident. Witness testimony in court can carry a considerable amount of weight, especially when the accounts do not vary widely. You may find witness names and contact information on the police report.
Proving the Breach of Duty of Care
One way your attorney may build the validity of your case is by proving that the elderly driver involved in your crash breached his or her duty of care. This means the driver failed to protect you by acting with carelessness or inattention in a way that led to your injuries and property damage. Duty of care typically applies to all public situations.
Your attorney may apply the breach of duty of care by investigating the circumstances, health and overall ability of the other driver, For instance, the elderly motorist may breach the duty of care by getting behind the wheel after taking blood pressure medication that may make him or her drowsy. Other examples include a senior driver venturing out at night when he or she already knows it causes a drastic reduction in visibility.
Protecting Your Best Interests
After a serious car accident, the elderly driver’s insurance company may try to contact you with a monetary offer to prevent a court case. Some offers may sound fair, but having an attorney represent you and field communications from the insurance company can help ensure that you do not settle for less than your case might be worth.
Your attorney can also protect your case by advising you when to speak, who to share case details with and what to avoid before the actual court date. For example, discussing your case on social media can jeopardize its validity, even with the most innocuous of comments. For instance, a comment you make on Facebook may cause the defendant’s attorney to take a second look at the details of the crash and then use that information against you in court. Paying careful attention to your attorney’s advice could help safeguard the validity of your case.
Once your attorney gathers evidence and builds a solid case regarding your elderly driver’s car accident, you may wonder what kind of compensation you can gain. Depending on the individual circumstances, you can ask the court for several different awards via your lawyer, including:
- Medical payments
- Treatment costs, such as physical therapy
- Property damage
- Loss of income
- Loss of mobility
You may also ask the court to award you for pain and suffering, also known as punitive damages. Under these circumstances, your attorney must prove that the elderly driver acted with particular negligence or carelessness and that his or her actions led directly to your injuries. Your attorney may gather evidence that proves the senior driver did not have the physical or mental capacity to operate a motor vehicle at all, which could fall under the legal umbrella of negligence.
Let Us Help
The aftermath of a crash caused by an elderly driver may result in a variety of injuries and suffering that can impact almost every facet of your life. At Jason Stone Injury Lawyers, our attorneys understand these changes and work with you not only to build a viable case but to also guide you through the court process. Contact the office today and let us provide you with the peace of mind you need as you heal from your injuries.