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Are the Elderly Treated Differently in a Car Accident Lawsuit?

The ability to operate a motor vehicle is essential to maintaining independence and enjoying life for many elderly drivers. However, as people age, they may experience physical and cognitive changes that affect their ability to drive safely. So, what happens when elderly drivers cause an auto accident in North Carolina? Does the law treat them differently?

When Are the Elderly at Fault for an Accident?

By and large, older drivers are safe drivers. However, if an elderly driver injures you during a car crash they caused due to negligence, North Carolina law allows you to hold them financially accountable for your injuries and losses. You can file a car accident claim with the other driver’s insurance company demanding reimbursement for your losses.

Older adult drivers may find their capability to drive safely deteriorates over time due to medical issues or medications that impact their health. Common driving behaviors associated with car accidents involving elderly drivers include:

  • Driving below the speed limit
  • Running red lights and stop signs
  • Failing to use turn signals
  • Driving in the wrong direction
  • Having an adverse health event behind the wheel
  • Turning improperly

In extreme cases, senior drivers with memory problems may forget how to operate a motor vehicle completely, forget where they are, or forget that they are driving.

If you can prove the elderly driver who hit you was negligent and their negligence caused the crash, you may be able to file a successful personal injury claim and recover compensation. An experienced car accident lawyer can handle this for you.

A skilled attorney can help establish whether the older driver suffered from any type of impairment, investigate the details of the crash, and show how their behavior caused the collision. Your lawyer will also collect the evidence necessary to build your car accident claim, such as traffic cam video, medical records, witness testimony, and police accident reports.

To prove negligence, you must show that the person who harmed you didn’t exercise reasonable care to prevent a crash. You must also establish how this lack of care caused the car accident and your losses.

Hiring an experienced car accident attorney to take on your case is wise. North Carolina has some of the harshest negligence laws in the nation. Most car accident claims are settled with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, but negotiating for full and fair compensation can be challenging. If the insurer finds that you are even one percent responsible for a collision, you cannot recover any compensation. The Raleigh car accident lawyers at Younce, Vtipil, Baznik, & Banks, P.A. can evaluate the responsible driver’s liability insurance coverage and push for maximum compensation for you.

Why Are Older Drivers Involved in So Many Fatal Crashes?

Elderly drivers are involved in a disproportionate number of car accidents. Some of that is due to the population explosion of Baby Boomers entering their senior years. The percentage of drivers over 65 is expected to be 20 percent in North Carolina by 2030. Approximately one in five residents will be seniors, which could affect road safety.  Here’s why:

  • Reduced mobility and slower reaction times – Reflexes get slower as we age. Older drivers may not respond as quickly to sudden changes in traffic conditions. They may brake too late, have trouble accelerating, and turn more slowly to check blind spots. The inability to complete these actions quickly increases the chances of motor vehicle accidents.
  • Vision and hearing impairments – Several vision and hearing impairments are linked to aging, such as macular degeneration, cataracts, and hearing loss. People who suffer from these conditions may have trouble observing their surroundings closely, putting other motorists and pedestrians at risk.
  • Medical conditions – Older adults are more likely to suffer from medical conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, and diabetes. Such conditions can impact their driving ability, as can the medications prescribed to treat them. Drugs such as sleep aids, antihistamines, and others can result in cognitive impairment and affect physical coordination. For these reasons, older drivers should always talk to their medical providers about the side effects of their medications before driving.

Medical Damages From Elderly Drivers

Car accidents caused by elderly drivers can result in serious injuries and expensive medical bills. Even if you have health insurance, you may still face high medical costs due to your car accident injuries. Such expenses can be exacerbated if your injuries leave you unable to return to work.

By filing a claim with the responsible driver’s insurance company, you may be able to recover compensation for your crash-related medical expenses. You may also be able to recover compensation for lost wages, loss of enjoyment of life, and pain and suffering.

North Carolina’s Licensing Requirements for Elderly Drivers

There are different licensing requirements for elderly drivers in North Carolina. Drivers over the age of 66 must renew their license in person at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) every five years. During the renewal process, a DMV worker will also perform a free vision test (an outside ophthalmologist or optometrist may also perform a test). If another person, such as a police officer or a family member, believes the older adult shows signs of driver impairment, a road test may be required.

After administering a test, the DMV may decide to place restrictions on an older adult’s license. Some of these most common restrictions include:

  • No driving at speeds above 45 miles per hour
  • Daytime driving only
  • No interstate driving
  • Driving only when another licensed driver is present

Drivers with severe impairments may only be allowed to drive in a limited radius around their home.

Contact Our Experienced Car Accident Lawyers in Raleigh, NC

If you suffered injuries in a car accident caused by an elderly driver, you may be able to file a claim to pursue money for your injuries and losses. The Raleigh car accident attorneys at Younce, Vtipil, Baznik, & Banks, P.A. will demand maximum compensation for you. We have both English and Spanish-speaking staff members, and you will benefit from top-quality legal services and individualized attention. Contact us today at 919-661-9000 for a free consultation.

About the Author

Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A.
At Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A., our clients work closely with a legal team that is dedicated to providing outstanding client service and unflinching legal representation. The majority of our attorneys and support staff have worked with our firm for many years.

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