An aging population means that there are more elderly drivers on the roads than ever before. This is increasing the likelihood of older motorists being involved in auto accidents. There are many reasons why car accidents happen to older people. Sometimes they are due to the usual causes, such as distracted driving, while other causes are attributed to age-related issues, such as sight loss or side effects from medication.
If you decide to work with the Orlando car accident lawyers at The Law Place, we will manage the entire case on your behalf, from the initial consultation through negotiation and settlement. We work on a no-win, no-fee basis so that victims can never be left out of pocket for pursuing compensation for their losses.
We understand that you may have reservations about making a claim against an elderly driver’s insurance company. However, it is important that you receive compensation after an accident that wasn’t your fault. Your claim may also help protect others from a potentially dangerous driver in the future. In your free consultation, we can answer any questions you may have so that you can make an informed decision about your next steps.
If you have experienced an accident due to an elderly driver, call The Law Place legal team at (941)-444-4444 to talk through your options today.
Elderly Road Users and Car Accidents
The elderly are more likely to have an automobile accident due to age-related factors. As people age, their vision, hearing, reaction time, and other skills essential for driving can decline, making them more prone to errors that lead to car accidents.
In addition, the roads are more hazardous than ever before, making a car crash much more likely. Drivers may find it difficult to adjust to new traffic laws or become distracted by a cell phone or in-car technology.
Medical conditions or certain types of medication can also affect judgment or perception, making it difficult for individuals to stay alert and focused on the road.
Legal Rights and Responsibilities
In Florida, there are certain rules that govern how motor vehicles are operated, and they apply to all drivers. The elderly, however, face further restrictions based on their age. For example, older people may have reduced vision due to age-related decline, making it difficult for them to react quickly in certain situations.
Additionally, some seniors may lack the physical ability to operate a vehicle due to conditions such as arthritis or medical issues. It’s important for elderly motorists and their families to understand both the requirements imposed by law as well as common sense rules to ensure safety while driving.
Florida law states that motor vehicle drivers must hold a valid driver’s license and have insurance. Older drivers face additional requirements. They must take and pass a driving test every two years once they reach the age of 80.
As well as these blanket guidelines, the elderly must be aware of any specific restrictions that can affect how they drive. Sometimes, they may need assistance with certain tasks associated with driving, or it may be necessary to take breaks more often if they become easily fatigued.
Increased Risk of Car Accidents for Elderly Drivers
Mature drivers are at greater risk of accidents than younger drivers. There are many reasons for this, such as:
- They may have a reduced ability to judge speed and distance, particularly in darkness.
- They may misread road signs, which can lead to mistakes when operating a motor vehicle.
- Senior citizens may have reduced reaction times, making it more difficult for them to respond and react to dangerous situations on the road.
- An elderly driver could be less tolerant and adaptable to severe weather or heavy traffic.
A simple task such as driving a car is something that many people take for granted. For the elderly, access to a vehicle can give them greater independence. From visiting friends to doing grocery shopping, being able to drive makes these activities easier. However, the pursuit of independence can lead older people to drive when they really shouldn’t. This can result in a car accident and serious injuries.
A Claim for Negligence
If a driver operates their vehicle with due care and attention and follows the rules of the road, it would be very difficult to prove negligence. However, a momentary lapse of judgment or breaking the rules, even for a second, is all it takes to cause an accident. Elderly drivers may suffer from diminished capacity on a mental and physical level, which can contribute to their negligence.
For a claim to succeed against an elderly driver, your claim must be based on negligence. Your personal injury lawyers will need to provide evidence that:
- The driver that caused your accident had a duty of care to drive in a safe manner.
- They breached this duty by carrying out a careless act.
- This caused your injuries and damages due to this breach. Damages can include medical bills for medical treatment, lost wages, and pain and suffering from your injuries.
Common examples of negligence include driving too fast during adverse weather, failing to stop at a red light, or making an improper lane change.
What If I Was Partially At-Fault for the Accident?
Even in cases where you were partly responsible for the accident, you may still have a valid claim for compensation. The state of Florida operates what’s known as a comparative negligence rule. This allows you to claim a proportion of damages based on the level of fault.
For example, if you were 40% at fault for the accident, you are entitled to make a claim for the remaining 60% from the other party. With the help of an experienced car accident lawyer, you may be able to negotiate effectively with the insurance provider to cover the medical bills you had to pay and other losses you sustained from severe injuries.
How Much Compensation Could I Claim for an Elderly Driver Accident?
The amount of compensation you could claim after an accident will depend on the quality of your representation, the percentage of liability, and the value of your damages. When you contact The Law Place for a free consultation, we can give you a rough idea of how much you may be able to claim.
The damages that you may be owed following a car accident are based on economic and non-economic factors.
Economic (Financial) Damages
Most damages in this category are easily quantifiable. This means that you can put a value on them. Damages can include lost wages, medical bills, and property damage to your vehicle and personal possessions inside that were damaged in the accident.
For example, if the accident is a rear-end collision, you may have equipment or personal belongings stored in the trunk that could become damaged in the crash.
If your injuries are severe, then you may also have future economic damages to consider, such as future medical costs. Although these are more difficult to quantify, your attorney from The Law Place has the experience and resources necessary to establish and fight for your projected losses.
Non-economic damages are harder to put a price on. They include compensation for your emotional and physical pain as a result of the accident and the impact your injuries have had on your quality of life.
Your personal injury lawyer will help you evidence your non-economic damages so that they may be included in your eventual settlement.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit
If you are a relative of the victim of a car accident who passed away, you may be eligible to bring a claim against the negligent driver on the grounds of wrongful death. To pursue a wrongful death claim, you must file it within two years of the accident.
Damages for this type of claim could cover funeral expenses, the cost of burial, medical expenses, the loss of future earning potential, and pain and suffering damages for your loss of companionship. Your Orlando car accident lawyer will advise you on the likely damages you can claim based on the specific details of your case.
Causes of Elderly Driver Accidents
Mistakes, reduced reaction times, issues with sight, and the impact of medications can all increase the risk of a car accident. While subtle changes to eyesight or judgment may appear insignificant, even the slightest issue can make a huge difference on the roads. Some of the most common car accidents caused or involving the elderly include:
Many factors can affect driver mistakes on the road. Minor alterations in judgment can cause the driver to run a red light accidentally, make a turn without correctly signaling, or take more serious actions that could involve straying into the wrong lane. All of these things can result in a car accident and a subsequent personal injury lawsuit.
Some elderly people can have good days and bad days. Some days a medical condition may be worse than others, or tiredness and other illnesses can affect their driving ability. It’s therefore important to be aware of this so drivers can take steps to reduce the risk or avoid driving entirely that day.
Failing to Yield
One mistake that can result in a serious collision on the road is failing to yield. A driver failing to follow the right of way could put other drivers at significant risk. Dangers could arise from entering an intersection without adequate clearance or cutting off another vehicle.
Rear-end collisions can result if the driver doesn’t keep sufficient distance between themselves and others. This can be due to misjudging speed or distance. Sometimes, failure to yield can cause an accident at a crosswalk, increasing the risk to pedestrians.
The elderly must be more vigilant as they move around in their vehicles. As their reaction times are slower, extra caution should be exercised to ensure failure to yield doesn’t happen.
Driving down a one-way road can be dangerous if not approached correctly. The most common mistake is going the wrong way down the road, which can lead to disastrous consequences, particularly if the driver is traveling at speed.
Other mistakes include entering an intersection without signaling or failing to yield to oncoming traffic when turning onto a one-way street. Lastly, even when driving in the proper direction, drivers should remain aware of pedestrians, cyclists, and other vehicles that could cause an accident due to their own inattention or failure to follow proper safety protocols.
Drivers who are unfamiliar with one-way streets should always proceed with caution and adhere to all traffic laws when navigating these roads. One-way roads can pose a risk to the elderly, particularly if they become confused and go the wrong way down a one-way road.
Distractions while driving aren’t just reserved for the elderly. Anyone of any age can become distracted while driving. However, older drivers are particularly vulnerable to distracted driving due to age-related physical and cognitive impairments. As their vision and hearing decline, seniors may be less able to perceive their surroundings, including other drivers and pedestrians.
In addition, they may have difficulty multitasking, leading to extended periods of inattention while on the road. Furthermore, those on medication or who suffer from chronic illnesses may experience additional distractions due to drowsiness or confusion caused by their medical condition.
Pressing the Wrong Pedal
Age-related physical and cognitive impairments could cause drivers to experience difficulty in accurately operating the foot pedals of their vehicles. This can lead to pressing the wrong pedal, resulting in unintended acceleration or braking. For example, an elderly driver may mistakenly press down on the accelerator instead of the brake pedal, which can cause them to lose control of their vehicle.
Similarly, pressing down on the brake when trying to accelerate can lead to delayed response times, which can be dangerous in certain situations, such as merging onto a highway or responding quickly to an unexpected obstruction on the road. As such, an elderly driver should always be aware of their physical limitations and take extra caution when operating a vehicle.
Speeding and an Orlando Car Accident
Speeding is a major contributor to accidents involving older people. While they may feel more confident and in control when driving faster, the reality is that their physical and cognitive impairments can make it difficult to accurately assess speed as well as respond quickly to sudden changes in their environment.
Therefore, the elderly should be extra cautious to avoid speeding and stick to the posted speed limit on the road. Furthermore, older drivers should be mindful of other vehicles that may be moving at a faster pace and adjust accordingly.
Lack of Signaling
Failure to signal can be a significant risk to other drivers on the road. This is especially true for elderly road users, as their physical and cognitive impairments can make it difficult for them to remember to use the proper signals when turning or changing lanes.
Even if they do remember to signal, their decreased reaction times can mean that they fail to cancel the signal in time before making a turn, which can cause confusion among other drivers. It’s important for senior drivers to always remember to use signals when turning or changing lanes and ensure that they cancel them after completing the maneuver.
Erratic driving can be extremely dangerous for motorists. At times, a senior driver may drive erratically due to physical and cognitive impairments that can cause issues with judgment, visibility, or reaction times.
Changes in medication or even a lapse in concentration while driving can lead to erratic behavior. Therefore, older drivers should take extra precautions while behind the wheel and focus on safe practices that allow them to maintain control of their vehicles at all times. Combining medication with alcohol, even if only a small amount, could lead to the same effects as drunk driving.
Some senior drivers may display aggressive driving behavior due to physical and cognitive impairments. These issues can cause problems with patience, judgment, and reaction times. Medication or certain health conditions can affect behavior, increasing levels of aggression.
Common issues, such as being stuck in traffic or having to adjust to new driving conditions, can lead to frustration and road rage. Elderly road users should take extra caution when behind the wheel and maintain their composure at all times to avoid potential accidents.
Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol, Drugs, Or Medication
Medications, including over-the-counter and even herbal medicines, can adversely affect judgment and reaction time. Alcohol consumption can further complicate the situation, as it impairs the ability to make sound judgments. Sometimes, the mixture of medication and alcohol can impair judgment furthur.
The older generation may not necessarily be aware of how their prescription medications affect them when driving. If in doubt, elderly motorists should always consult their doctors when taking medication. They should also avoid drinking and driving altogether to avoid potential accidents.
In some instances, the elderly may drive recklessly. Older drivers may believe they are invincible and can get themselves out of any tricky situation on the road because of their experience. It’s this attitude and the resulting careless or reckless behavior that increases the risk of an accident.
Some examples of reckless driving include:
- Failure to stay in the right lane.
- Driving too fast or too slow.
- Attempting maneuvers without looking.
- Not observing the right of way.
- Failing to stop at an intersection.
Driving is as much about independence as it is about getting from A to B. Many elderly people are reluctant to give up driving, but there comes a time when dangerous driving behaviors or near misses could be an indication it’s time to stop. Although the elderly are subject to re-examination of skills and competence after the age of 80, drivers can still be a danger up to this age.
Driving in a reckless manner can put other drivers at risk. If the car crashes, this can result in serious injuries not only with those involved in the motor vehicle collision but through pedestrian accidents too. Financial compensation is payable if proof can be provided to support reckless or aggressive driving.
Warning Signs that an Elderly Person Shouldnt Drive
Most elderly people are competent and capable drivers, but others do not have the capacity to drive safely. Recognizing the signs of unsafe driving is the first step in preventing accidents. As the saying goes, prevention is always better than cure.
Fortunately, there are signs that could indicate an elderly driver may either need to visit a doctor to confirm their fitness to drive or they should consider giving up driving altogether. Some of the warning signs to watch out for include:
- Getting lost more often.
- Running a red light, failing to stop at a stop sign, or stopping at a green light without realizing.
- Difficulty interpreting traffic signals.
- Suddenly changing lanes without looking.
- Fear or nervousness while driving.
- Exhaustion after driving.
- Experiencing several near misses, whether this is with pedestrians or other motorists.
- Becoming involved in minor collisions or accidents that dent or scratch the vehicle.
Establishing Liability With the Help of The Law Place
One of the things that your lawyer must establish as part of assessing your car accident claim is liability. They must be able to identify a negligent party whose actions contributed to or caused your accident. Older driver accidents are managed in the same way as cases involving younger drivers.
The driver of the car (or their surviving family members if the elderly driver passed away after the accident) may be liable for damages caused by driving negligently. However, the insurance company may make attempts to shift the blame for the car crash from their client to you by all means possible. They do this to reduce the amount they have to pay out and save their company money.
When exploring the concept of liability, there are some situations where a third party may be liable. The key question to answer in this case is who owned the car the elderly driver was driving. If, for example, an elderly driver borrowed their son’s or daughter’s car, they could be liable.
There are two ways this can be applied in a legal context. The first is dangerous instrumentality, and the second is negligent entrustment. An experienced car crash lawyer, such as those found at The Law Place, will be able to apply these to your case when a car accident occurs.
Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine
This doctrine states that a motor vehicle can be inherently dangerous. The registered owner of the vehicle can therefore be held accountable for injuries caused by the negligent use of the vehicle, even if they weren’t driving. For this to apply, permission must have been given to the negligent party to use the motor vehicle safely. There are some exceptions to the dangerous instrumentality doctrine, such as when the car is a rental vehicle, or it was dropped off for repair.
This notion states that the owner of a vehicle operating under dangerous instrumentality was aware of or should have been aware of their elderly relatives’ reckless or unsafe driving behavior and still allowed them to use the vehicle.
Your personal injury attorney will collect evidence to show that the adult child allowed their elderly parent to drive, in full knowledge they had a history of unsafe driving or suffered from a medical condition that affected their capacity to drive.
However, in the majority of cases, the elderly driver will be the only party at fault in vehicle accidents.
What The Law Place Can do for You
If you have been involved in an accident and are considering whether to make a claim against an elderly driver, the first step in the process is to contact The Law Place. The process will begin with a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer.
Our accident attorneys will collect information on your case and give you some transparent advice on the merits of a claim. The law surrounding serious automobile accidents and other personal injury claims is complex. Our car accident lawyers have the required knowledge to provide helpful advice on your case.
If we believe that you have a valid claim, your lawyer will explain the fee structure and answer any questions that you have. We work on a no-win, no-fee basis, so you will never be left out of pocket for securing representation with us. If you agree to our representation, all that’s left to do is sign our agreement, and we will take care of the rest.
Your Orlando car accident lawyer will then start the process of investigation, working with the various parties including the insurance company and gathering the necessary information. This will include speaking to witnesses, collecting police reports from the accident scene, and reviewing medical reports. From here, when your lawyer has a good overall picture of your case, they can begin the process of negotiation.
To start negotiations, your lawyer will assess your losses and place a value on your claim. From here, negotiations will take place with the insurance company to achieve a fair settlement. Not all claims will be successful during the negotiation phase with the insurance adjuster.
The insurance company may deny the auto accident claim outright, or their settlement figure may not be acceptable. In either of these cases, your lawyer will then commence proceedings for a trial. During this period, your lawyer will prepare your case to be presented to a judge and jury.
Dealing With Insurance Companies
Sometimes, an elderly driver may be remorseful and deeply sorry for their actions. Other times, they may become defensive or provide alternative explanations for the accident. The driver may even say you caused the accident, and they are not at fault in any way.
The insurance company for the elderly driver will try everything they can to shift the blame. The insurer often uses aggressive legal language to devalue your claim or throw it out completely.
Always seek legal representation from an Orlando car accident lawyer before you speak to the insurance company about the accident. Insurers know how to ask questions that could lead to admissions of liability (even if you weren’t at fault). This could make your personal injury case much more complicated.
Your lawyer from The Law Place will work with parties such as the insurance company to present the relevant information and work towards a settlement. if the insurance company will not offer an acceptable settlement, your Orlando car accident lawyer will prepare your case for trial.
Arrange a Free Consultation With The Law Place Today
At The Law Place, we have over 75 years of combined experience helping car accident victims in Florida. We work as a team so that no stone is left unturned and you can benefit from all of our combined experience. At the same time, one attorney will be assigned to the management of your case. They will take over the entire process while keeping you engaged and informed.
Many of our attorneys, including our founding attorney, David Haenel, have an AVVO rating of 10.0. This is the highest possible rating on the independent review site, based on things such as years in service, awards, client reviews, trial results, and more.
To find out more about how The Law Place can help with your claim, call the team today at (941)-444-4444 for a free consultation.