In early February, an elderly driver was pulling into a parking spot when she confused the gas pedal for the brake. The woman drove forward and collided with a daycare center located in Cibolo, Texas. Six children and the driver were moved to area hospitals while a seventh child was treated at the scene and released to a parent. Many of the children’s injuries are unknown, though four were released from the hospital by the afternoon. It has been reported that one child sustained rib fractures.
Unfortunately, as drivers age, various medical conditions can increase the risk of the older driver causing an accident. Individuals hurt in these accidents may need to file personal injury claims against the older driver’s insurance or file personal injury claims in court.
The Facts about Elderly Drivers
As of 2014, the Federal Highway Administration calculated there were about 24.4 million licensed drivers at least 70 years old across the country, as reported by Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The number of elderly individuals who have kept their licenses has increased in the past decade as the baby b+oomer generation ages. However, while there are more elderly drivers, there is not necessarily a significant increase in accidents involving them. Older drivers have a lower rate of police-reported crashes per capita compared to other age groups. Unfortunately, statistics from the IIHS also show that the more miles people over the age of 65 drive, the greater likelihood of a crash.
How Age Can Affect Driving
In general, older drivers are safe drivers. Decades of experience behind the wheel enables elderly drivers to know how to expertly handle a variety of situations on the road. However, age-related health issues can negatively impact a person’s ability to safely operate a vehicle. Common elderly health issues that can cause accidents include:
- Poor eyesight;
- Inability to or trouble seeing at night;
- Diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration;
- Joint and muscle stiffness;
- Slower reaction times;
- Slower reflexes;
- Hearing impairments;
- Medications that lead to drowsiness; and
- Dementia and confusion.
Proving Negligence in an Elderly Driver Accident
When an individual was hurt in a crash caused by an older driver, the basic premise of a personal injury claim remains the same – that individual must show the older driver was negligent. Being negligent means that the driver did not act reasonably to keep other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians safe. However, how a person proves an older driver was negligent is likely different than if a younger driver caused the crash. Younger and middle-aged drivers are more likely to be careless through speeding or driving while intoxicated. Elderly drivers are more likely to be negligent based on not having the proper faculties to drive at that time.
A person and his or her attorney may seek to prove:
- The older driver should not have a driver’s license due to being unable to pass a current driver’s exam, including the medical or eye exam;
- If the older driver already had a restricted driver’s license, such as being permitted to driving only during certain hours, within certain geographic areas, or under certain speeds, that the driver was violating their license restrictions;
- The older person did not have a valid driver’s license at the time of the crash; and/or
- Despite being physically capable of driving, the older individual is not mentally capable of such a complex task.
Contact a San Antonio Personal Injury Lawyer
If you were injured in a crash caused by an older driver, seek legal advice from our experienced New Braunfels personal injury lawyers at the Bettersworth Law Firm. We are available to analyze your case and help you seek compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, disability and disfigurement.