Due to its beautiful surroundings and pleasant weather, the State of Florida is home to a very high percentage of retired residents. It is estimated that by 2030, around 25% of all drivers in Florida will be 65 or older. Unfortunately, due to deteriorating vision and impaired hearing, the elderly don’t always make the best drivers and are responsible for a number of car accidents every year.
Florida has some serious problems when it comes to car accident incidents. According to Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FHSMV), every single year, over 400,000 happen in the state alone. Many of these accidents are caused by older drivers who do not recognize or ignore the fact that they are not as safe behind the wheel as they once were. This ignorance or stubbornness can lead to accidents that cause terrible injury and, even occasionally, death.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a Clearwater car accident involving an elderly driver and it wasn’t your fault, you should get in touch with The Law Place today. Our law firm is experienced in dealing with cases like yours and can give you the best information and advice on your exact situation.
Our personal injury lawyers have over 75 years of combined experience in dealing with road accidents, so call us today for a free consultation on (941) 444-4444. The accident attorneys at our law firm are ready to get started on your case and fight for the justice that you deserve.
How Common Are Accidents Involving Elderly Drivers in Clearwater, FL?
Safe driving is reliant on key skills that involve physical, cognitive, and visual capabilities, and impairments are most prevalent among those who are older.
Data from the Department of Transportation (DOT) shows that when accounting for vehicle miles traveled, fatal crash rates start to rise when drivers hit ages 70 to 74 and are highest among those drivers who are 85 and older. Much of this involves the fact that older drivers are more prone to injury and medical complications.
When looking at drivers involved in multiple-vehicle collisions at intersections, this risk began to rise once drivers reached age 60. Multiple-vehicle crashes occurring at intersections account for roughly 40 percent of all deadly crashes among drivers over the age of 80, compared to 20 percent for drivers under 60.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that specifically in Florida, of the total 4,137 drivers involved in fatal crashes in a single year, 581 of those were over 65, this is more than any other state in the country. In sum, an 80-year-old is statistically far more likely to cause an auto accident compared to a 30-year-old.
Unfortunately, personal injury protection rarely covers losses incurred after an auto accident, such as medical bills and lost wages. If you have suffered an injury in a Clearwater car accident, contact The Law Place now for a free consultation with one of our accident attorneys.
Clearwater Elderly Driver Accidents: Common Causes of Car Accidents
Getting old also brings some unwanted side effects that can have a serious impact on our lives and the lives of those around us. An unfortunate but well-known fact about getting older is that it can have an impact on our minds and bodies. Starting from the age of 55, a decrease in information processing and driving ability is likely to kick in.
Older drivers are usually much more likely to be dealing with age-related impairments. They might have a lower range of vision or a slightly deaf hearing. Other common afflictions include arthritis and medication that has side effects that they were unaware of. Although these factors may not cause obvious physical symptoms, they can make all the difference in split-second decision incidents.
Some conditions more common among older drivers include:
- Alzheimer’s disease.
- Sleep apnea.
- Parkinson’s disease.
- Macular degeneration.
If you have suffered an injury in a Clearwater car accident, contact The Law Place now for a free consultation with one of our accident attorneys.
When Is It No Longer Safe to Drive?
Although driving allows older adults to stay both mobile and independent, the risk of being injured or killed in a crash increases with age, as do the chances of harming someone else.
Older drivers are expected to follow the rules of the road and adhere to a duty of care when driving, just like any other driver in Florida. Therefore, it’s important to keep some things in mind when an individual continues to drive into your later years. Consider looking for new transportation options or limiting driving if the following apply to you:
- Your response time is noticeably slower.
- You have difficulty staying in a lane while driving.
- You begin to feel nervous or scared while behind the wheel or a car.
- You have difficulty seeing signs, signals, or lights on other cars clearly.
- You now have medical issues that make it difficult or painful to drive a car.
- You’ve been in near-misses lately that may signal that it’s time to stop driving.
- You begin to have trouble judging distances at intersections or around corners.
- You’ve received more than one traffic ticket or warning from the police in the last two years.
Reducing Car Accident Risk in Clearwater
Many older drivers may not be up to date with current safety advice, due to the fact that they may have passed their driving tests when the roads were much quieter, and there were fewer distractions such as mobile phones.
While most drivers need to renew their licenses every eight years, by law, drivers over the age of 80 are required to renew it every six years. They may also be required to pass a vision test to ensure that their eyesight is good enough to operate a vehicle.
If you are in the older age category or have a loved one who is still driving at an older age, the following tips should be considered for safer driving:
- Keep your eyes on the road – Stay vigilant at all times while driving the roads of Clearwater. Keep a safe following distance behind drivers and practice patience behind slow drivers. Pass legally and safely, and do not tailgate!
- Get regular eye exams – Ensure your prescription is up-to-date with a yearly eye exam. If you are over the age of 80, by law in Florida, you are required to report a new eye exam with every six-year renewal.
- Wear your seatbelt – One of the oldest and most important rules in the book. Seatbelts save lives every day, and a bad auto accident could be a whole lot worse if you’re not wearing yours. If you are over 60, you are far more likely to suffer more serious injuries compared to younger drivers.
- Limit distractions – Do not look at a phone or tablet while driving. If you need to use a device for navigation, make sure to set it up while safely parked. Avoid changing radio stations, snacking while driving, drinking, and chatting with other drivers. These are all potentially hazardous distractions that cause a momentary lapse in attention. These distractions can lead to an auto accident.
- Avoid driving in bad conditions – Driving during daytime hours is often safer, especially if you have impaired eyesight. Bad weather is a common cause of accidents, so it may be a good idea to avoid driving in such conditions. Aldo, driving during lulls in traffic, such as a late morning or early afternoon, can also decrease the chance of a collision. One of the benefits of being retired is that you have more choice when it comes to making a car journey.
- Don’t drive intoxicated – Just like any person who takes control of a vehicle, you should never drive while drunk or under the influence of any drug, as this counts as Driving Under the Influence (DUI). This includes medications that may make you feel drowsy or unalert. Make sure to follow any rules about operating motor vehicles on your prescriptions and speak with your doctor about any medications you take that could lead to risky driving. If a doctor advises you not to drive, you should take this advice very seriously. Insurance companies will look into any medications you are taking and use it against you.
- Don’t drive fatigued – Drowsy driving has been found to factor into up to 20% of fatal accidents. Drowsiness can lead to exaggerated behavior, slower reaction times, lower alertness, and difficulty focusing the eyes. When we reach a certain age, it is natural to feel tired sooner, so don’t put yourself and others at risk and drive when you are not feeling alert.
If you have suffered an injury Clearwater car accident, contact The Law Place now for a free consultation with a Clearwater car accident lawyer.
Liability in a Clearwater Auto Accident Case
When it comes to liability for an auto accident involving older drivers, these cases are handled in much the same way as any other accident. The law states that the operator of the car may be held liable for damages to others caused by negligent driving.
A third party might be liable for a car crash if the vehicle driven by the elder adult was owned by someone else. That person could be liable under two legal theories: Dangerous instrumentality and negligent entrustment.
- Dangerous instrumentality – This doctrine holds that motor vehicles are considered inherently dangerous, and therefore the legal owner can be liable for any injuries caused by its negligent use – even if the owner wasn’t driving the car – so long as the owner gave permission for it to be driven by the negligent party. The exceptions to the dangerous instrumentality doctrine are limited (i.e., rental car use, vehicles dropped off for auto repairs, vehicles in the midst of sales).
- Negligent entrustment – This doctrine holds that the owner of a dangerous instrumentality knew or should have known of a person’s inexperience or reckless or unsafe behaviors, and still allowed them to use that dangerous instrumentality anyway. So, if there is evidence an adult child allowed an elderly parent to drive – knowing they had a medical condition or history of problems that would make them unsafe, the adult child/ owner of the car could be liable for negligent entrustment.
If these doctrines are not found to apply in your case, the primary at-fault party would be the driver of the vehicle. The good news for those involved in crashes with older drivers is these motorists are more likely to have at least a minimum level of personal injury protection (PIP).
If you aren’t sure who is liable for an accident you’ve been involved in and need further advice, contact The Law Place now for a free consultation with an experienced accident attorney.
How to Deal With an Auto Accident in Clearwater
When you get into an accident with an elderly driver in Clearwater, they can often react in strange, unpredictable ways. This is often because they are embarrassed or stubborn; it could even be down to the medication they are on. Because of this, they will often try and place the blame on you. Many are afraid that the event will cause them to lose their license, and for many, this can feel like a loss of independence.
Disputes about accidents like this are a regular occurrence in Clearwater. Many individuals find it hard to pressure an older person into giving them their details or accepting liability.
If they are point blank refusing to accept any fault in the accident, the best thing you can do is to stop talking to them and speak to a personal injury car accident lawyer who will be able to take over. Remember, the other parties’ insurance company is probably trying to lower their liability and maybe them giving bad advice.
Insurance companies will most likely try and refuse your claim or devalue it. They will have aggressive legal teams ready to trick you into lowering their liability. This is why we always advise getting a personal injury car accident lawyer to represent you in cases like this. Often, insurance companies will try and contact you privately with a low-ball offer to get you to accept quickly. They will do this without liaising with a law firm.
A good rule of thumb is that no matter how certain you are that the other driver was at fault, try and avoid speaking to their insurance company as much as you can. No matter how friendly they seem on the phone or over email, just remember, insurance companies are always looking out for their own personal interests first.
If you have suffered an injury in a Clearwater car accident, contact The Law Place now for a free consultation with an experienced car accident attorney.
What Can a Reputable Law Firm Do for Me?
After making the decision to speak with a law firm about a car accident that has happened in Clearwater, you will first take a free consultation from a personal injury lawyer. They will discuss your auto accident in a chilled manner and evaluate where they think you stand in terms of your case and the compensation you might be entitled too, for lost wages and other damages. This is no strings attached, you get simple honest and unbiased advice and are free to do whatever you want with it.
If following your free consultation you decide to hire our law firm, we will call you in for a more in-depth meeting. In this meeting, we will ask some more detailed questions regarding your accident, such as the type of injury and losses you have incurred, such as lost wages. This is where we will start building your case up.
As soon as you have signed up for representation, your lawyer will take over everything for you. They will liaise with all of the parties involved in the car crash, including the insurance company for both parties involved. We will also start investigating by gathering police reports, speaking to first responders and witnesses who were present at the car accident.
With this position of strength and after working out your damages, your car accident lawyer should have a good idea of what your claim is worth. This will give them a rough figure of what to seek from the other insurance company. They will then ask for this in a settlement demand. If they agree to pay this and you find it agreeable then you get your money, our law firm takes our fee, and everybody is happy.
If they do not send a settlement offer that is reasonable and fair and you do not agree with it, then our law firm will take the other party to court via a lawsuit. When we get to court, we will use the case we have built around your car accident to convince a judge and jury that you are deserving of the compensation you are asking for.
If you have suffered an injury in a Clearwater car accident, contact The Law Place now for a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer.
Contact Us at The Law Place Today for a Free Consultation
Car accidents happen in Clearwater every day. When you’ve been in a car crash, which isn’t your fault, it isn’t fair that you should be out of pocket due to lost wages, medical expenses, or for your pain and suffering as a result of an injury. If you or a loved one has been hurt in an accident caused by an elderly driver in Florida, you may be entitled to financial compensation.
At The Law Place, our law firm works as a team to guide you through the process and handle all the complexities of your unique situation. Our team is diverse and incredibly skilled. Our passion has led to favorable outcomes in countless cases. And remember, there is no fee to hire us. We work on a contingency basis, which means we don’t get paid until you do.
Contact The Law Place today on (941) 444-4444 for a free consultation.