Partner at AKD Lawyers

Practice Areas: Personal Injury

As the elderly population increases, so too does the number of senior drivers, bringing specific legal challenges to light, particularly in car accidents. Elderly drivers, more likely to experience accidents per mile driven, face unique obstacles due to health issues like arthritis and the effects of medication. The legal framework varies by state, with stringent licensing requirements for seniors, including frequent renewals and vision tests. In legal arenas, elderly accident victims encounter difficulties, from potentially lower damages in wrongful death claims to the complexities of proving causation. Additionally, the principle of negligent entrustment places responsibility on family members who allow unsafe elderly drivers access to vehicles. Navigating these legal landscapes is essential for ensuring elderly drivers receive fair treatment and support following accidents.

Risks for Elderly Drivers Legal Challenges for Elderly Victims
Health conditions (arthritis, dementia) Proving causation of injuries
Medication side effects Distinguishing accident-related injuries from age-related conditions
Reduced life expectancy and earning capacity Defendants attributing injuries to aging
Family liability for negligent entrustment Defendants dragging out proceedings to exhaust elderly plaintiffs

Q: What legal protections and challenges do elderly individuals face in car accidents? 

A: Elderly drivers involved in car accidents face unique legal protections and challenges. While states have varying license requirements for senior drivers, such as more frequent renewals and vision tests, elderly individuals are still at higher risk for accidents due to health conditions and medication side effects. 

In wrongful death claims, damages may be lower due to reduced life expectancy and earning capacity. Elderly accident victims may also face challenges proving causation and distinguishing accident-related injuries from age-related conditions. 

Family members can be held liable for negligent entrustment if they lend a car to an unsafe elderly driver.

Legislators and administrative authorities grapple with the complex issue of senior driving and accident prevention. Although older drivers generally travel fewer miles, they exhibit a higher rate of accidents per mile driven. This discrepancy underscores the nuanced challenge of ensuring road safety while respecting the independence of elderly drivers.

The heart of the matter lies in the health conditions common among older individuals, such as arthritis, dementia, and the necessity for multiple medications, which can impair driving ability. These conditions can limit mobility, reduce cognitive functions, and cause side effects like drowsiness, making driving more hazardous.

Addressing this requires a balanced approach from policymakers, including implementing more rigorous health and vision screenings and adjusting licensing regulations. The aim is to safeguard all road users by ensuring elderly drivers maintain their ability to drive safely, without imposing undue restrictions on their freedom to drive.

Statistics on Car Accidents Involving Elderly Drivers

As the Baby Boomer generation ages into retirement, the United States sees a rise in its older population, reflected in over 40 million licensed drivers aged 65 and above, a figure reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and expected to grow. This trend towards a healthier, older demographic, exemplified by New Orleans residents, comes with a flip side—an increase in auto accidents involving elderly drivers, posing a significant public safety concern.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlights that, in 2016, there were 42 million licensed senior drivers, linking aging with a heightened risk of fatal accidents. That year, auto accidents claimed the lives of 7,400 seniors and led to hospitalization for 290,000 due to injuries. These statistics underscore the urgent need for strategies to enhance the safety of elderly drivers, addressing the unique challenges they face on the road and ensuring the well-being of all road users.

Statistics on Car Accidents Involving Elderly Drivers

Do Older Drivers Need Any Special License Requirements?

In the United States, license requirements for senior drivers vary by state, with over 30 states imposing additional regulations. While age alone doesn’t justify revoking a driver’s license, these states require more frequent license renewals and increased vision testing for older drivers. These measures aim to ensure seniors maintain the necessary skills and health for safe driving.

Implementing these stricter regulations starts at different ages across states, with some beginning as early as age 40. This reflects an effort to proactively address the natural decline in abilities that can impact driving safety. By tailoring license requirements to address age-related changes, these policies balance the need for road safety with the independence of older drivers.

Wrongful Death and the Elderly Driver

In cases of fatal accidents involving elderly drivers, understanding who can file a wrongful death claim is essential. State laws vary, generally allowing immediate family members like parents, spouses, and children to seek compensatory damages. These damages can cover areas such as pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and direct expenses including burial and medical costs.

However, the assessment of damages considers the deceased elderly’s lower life expectancy and potential earning capacity, which can influence the compensation amount. It’s a misconception that seniors have no earning potential, but their economic value might be assessed differently. Furthermore, the adult status of the deceased’s children can also impact the claim, as they may not require the same level of financial support or guidance. This highlights the complexity and sensitivity in navigating wrongful death claims involving elderly individuals.

Does Age Factor Affect Risk While Driving Differently For Elderly Drivers?

The safety of elderly drivers on the road presents a nuanced issue. While the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports a lower accident rate for drivers over 70, attributed to reduced mileage and fewer elderly holding licenses, the mortality rate in accidents is higher for this group due to physical frailty, especially susceptibility to head and chest injuries.

Furthermore, health conditions prevalent among the elderly, such as arthritis affecting 80% of those in their seventies, can impair driving capabilities. Additionally, 75% of drivers over 65 take medications that might affect their driving, often without realizing the potential side effects.

This complexity highlights the need for a careful approach to elderly driving, balancing independence with safety through research, education, and potentially updated regulations, ensuring elderly drivers are safe while minimizing their risk to others.

When the Victims Are The Elderly

In auto accidents, the elderly face dual roles: potential contributors and victims. While more susceptible to accidents, elderly victims encounter unique legal hurdles, particularly regarding causation in personal injury claims. The law requires injuries to be directly linked to the accident, yet defendants often claim injuries were pre-existing, a defense more easily applied to the elderly due to natural bodily degeneration and past medical history.

This argument is challenging to counter in younger individuals without prior health issues, but for older victims, who may have a history of conditions like arthritis or prior injuries, it becomes a significant obstacle. The natural wear and tear on an elderly body, coupled with a lifetime of various physical incidents, makes it easier for defendants to use the pre-existing condition defense. Thus, elderly victims in auto accidents must navigate these legal complexities with careful representation to ensure their rights and compensation are adequately protected.

Growing Older and Aging Itself Becomes a Problem

Growing Older and Aging Itself Becomes a Problem

Additionally, careless drivers have a nasty history of attributing age-related injuries to the elderly. 

For instance, the family of an older driver may see that their loved one is becoming more irritable, cognitively slower, or forgetful. They could see that whilst their loved one was formerly gregarious, they now sleep more frequently or use painkillers that they did not previously require.

The irresponsible driver will convince a jury that these symptoms result from “just getting older” and that they are unrelated to the vehicle accident. Such arguments may persuade a large number of jurors, since age becomes an easy scapegoat for the defendant.

Regretfully, many careless defendants may also reprehensibly attempt to exhaust the old plaintiff by dragging out proceedings for incredibly extended durations of time or by making them attend several depositions or medical exams. Although this approach is abusive, a skilled victim’s advocate ought to be able to stop these kinds of initiatives.

Elderly Drivers and Family Liability

The natural aging process often becomes a contentious point in legal disputes following auto accidents. Defendants may attribute the injuries of elderly victims to aging rather than the accident, suggesting symptoms like cognitive decline or increased irritability are due to getting older, not the collision. This strategy can sway jurors, using age as a scapegoat to reduce liability.

Furthermore, some defendants engage in tactics to exploit the elderly’s vulnerabilities, such as unnecessarily prolonging legal proceedings or demanding frequent medical evaluations, aiming to tire them out. Despite these challenges, having a dedicated advocate can ensure that elderly victims are protected from such exploitative strategies, upholding their rights and dignity in the face of adversity.

How You Can Help Elderly Drivers

Supporting elderly drivers involves understanding the cognitive and physical changes affecting their driving. Regular assessments of health conditions like vision loss and slower reaction times are crucial for ensuring safety. Family members and friends can help by ensuring elderly drivers avoid driving in hazardous weather or during low-visibility times, reducing potential risks.

Additionally, facilitating open discussions about driving abilities, encouraging medical check-ups for vision and cognitive functions, and considering vehicle modifications can further support elderly drivers. By balancing safety concerns with respect for their independence, it’s possible to assist elderly drivers in maintaining their mobility safely.

In Summary

Understanding the unique legal challenges senior drivers face in car accidents is vital as the elderly population grows. Health conditions and medication side effects increase their risk, presenting obstacles in claiming compensation for injuries.

Family members are crucial in ensuring elderly drivers’ safety and could face legal responsibility if they allow an unsafe senior to drive. Recognizing these risks and legal nuances is key to promoting road safety for all.

If an elderly individual is involved in an accident, consulting with an experienced attorney is essential. The right legal support can help navigate these challenges, protect rights, and secure deserved compensation.

Get in touch with AKD Law

At AKD Law, we specialize in addressing the specific challenges elderly individuals face after car accidents. Our team of compassionate attorneys is committed to ensuring your rights are safeguarded and your case is heard. For elderly victims of car accidents, we promise to provide detailed case investigation, evidence collection, and robust claim development to secure deserved compensation.

Engaging with insurance companies and representing your interests in court, AKD Law stands with you at every legal turn. Age should not deter seeking justice; contact us for a free consultation. Our experienced car accident attorneys are ready to listen, answer your questions, and confidently guide you. Trust AKD Law to champion the rights and well-being of the elderly on the road.

In 2003, after being dissatisfied with the quality of legal care for victims of car accidents, Roderick ‘Rico’ Alvendia sought to establish a new firm focused on providing high-quality legal services to aid injured victims and their families. J. Bart Kelly, sharing Rico’s passion for upholding justice, joined the firm later that year, and established a partnership.

  • They helped me with every need possible. The back issues I had could have been much worse if they didn’t step in and help me. Bart, Megan, and all the people that work for this legal team are amazing. I would recommend them to anyone. Thank you all for helping me each step of the way. I can’t thank these people enough.

    - T. Gibson-Warren

  • I want to thank the whole team for all your help and persistence with my settlement. I truly appreciate.

    - A. Alfortish

  • Great experiences every time I need you guys. I always recommend your firm.

    - W. Young

  • Bart and his team were wonderful to work with. It was clear that their vision and determination to fight for our case, is why we were able to reach a settlement, where my previous attorney was not.

    - C. Perez

  • Bart Kelly and his legal team reevaluated my case after another attorney backed away from a legal challenge, I just want to say Thank You to mr kelly and his team for the hard work and dedication to my case to make it successful . Thank You

    - N. Gex

  • Attorney Kelly is an impeccable attorney. He has represented me extremely well. I was very, very, very pleased with the outcome of my settlement. He’s highly recommended … to give assistance to anyone. I thank him for his services and I’m super elated over the way he handled the case. He is a phenomenal lawyer.

    - S. Spears

  • I’ve learned the importance of having good coverage insurance, thanks to Mr. Kelly explaining everything to me. We do not hope or wait for accidents, but rest assured that I will call Mr. Kelly again if I need his services. Thank you.

    - Ann Zimmer

  • Being represented by Mr. Kelly and his legal team was a very awesome experience. They were very patient and they worked really hard in resolving my case. I would most definitely refer them to all my friends and associates. Thank you very much.

    - Nathaniel Bonney

  • I am very grateful for Mr. Bart’s assistance. He was very professional and fair. I never felt like a client with him. I always felt like a close friend. Also, I would like to thank everyone in the office for being friendly, kind, and for helping me.

    - Glac Mantuso

  • Just want to say thanks a lot because I received way more than I expected. You guys did a wonderful job of getting the max for myself and my family. Everyone I met or spoke to on the phone was really professional and nice. Once again, thanks a lot.

    - Jessica Quinn

  • J. Bart Kelly is the best attorney I have ever met. He is intelligent, caring, understanding, and knows how to protect his clients. I love his strong take-charge attitude to fight for what is right.

    - Teri Haas

  • My lawyer took the time to explain everything in a clear and concise manner. I’ve been treated fairly and with the utmost respect. I am very appreciative of all of the staff at AKD for their services.

    - James Barber

  • I am grateful for the way that my case was handled. Thanks.

    - Darryl Hill

  • Thanks to Bart and Meg. Fantastic group of people and team. Love you guys.

    - Claudine Hope

  • I was involved in a terrible accident and had a lot of serious injuries. I was so happy that Bart (and his team, including his nurse paralegal) was my attorney. The results were much more than expected as far as the settlement. Thanks.

    - Karen Bourgeois

  • I received exceptional service from the law office of Bart Kelly. He is a great attorney who cares about what you are going through, and I am very pleased with the outcome.

    - Melissa Sanchez

View all