- Because driving requires split-second decision-making, a senior citizen’s slower response time and physical capabilities may mean accidents are more likely to occur.
- Elderly drivers may be at an increased risk of causing accidents due to physical restrictions, a decrease in vision or hearing, other medical conditions, and medication side effects.
- If you were injured in an accident caused by a senior citizen, you might be able to receive compensation for your injuries.
- Expert testimony may be required to prove that a medical condition or medication reaction likely contributed to the accident that caused your injuries.
As most people age, their ability to quickly process information weakens, response time slows, and senses like vision and hearing start to decline. Unfortunately, because driving requires split-second decision-making, this lag in judgment and physical capabilities mean accidents with senior citizens are more likely to occur.
According to the Georgia Department of Driver Services, there are more than 1 million drivers over the age of 65 on Georgia’s busy roads. And like many states, Georgia only has minor precautions in place for re-examining elderly drivers’ capabilities with every license renewal.
If you’ve recently been in an accident caused by a senior driver, you may have questions about what to do next – especially if a legal claim will be needed for additional compensation.
There will be many questions that need to be asked regarding the senior’s ability to drive, and in some cases, who permitted them to do so. Here’s what you should know if you were in an accident with a senior citizen driver.
Reasons Why the Elderly Are Responsible for Car Accidents
Some of the most common reasons seniors are at an increased risk of causing car accidents include:
- Decreased vision
- Reduced cognitive function
- Inability to react quickly
- Side effects from medications
- Decreased memory
Elderly drivers may also suffer from medical conditions that make driving more difficult. These conditions may include:
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Macular Degeneration
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Sleep Apnea
While Georgia requires seniors 64 and older to take a vision screening with each license renewal every eight years, there are no other special requirements needed to maintain their drivers’ licenses.
However, drivers aged 64 or older are not permitted to renew their driver’s licenses online or through the mail; they must renew their licenses in person at a Georgia Department of Driver Services office.
Do I Have a Case If the At-Fault Driver Is a Senior Citizen?
If you were injured in a car accident, the main concern when filing a claim is who was at fault. If the senior citizen was clearly to blame for the accident, then you have a higher chance of winning money to compensate you for your injuries.
Because Georgia is a comparative fault state, the compensation you may receive is limited by how at fault you were in an accident. For example, if your actions contributed to the accident in any way, your compensation would be reduced by the percentage that you were at fault. However, as long as you were less than 50% responsible, then it is still possible to receive compensation for your injuries.
Proving Fault When the Driver Is a Senior Citizen
If the other driver in a car accident is a senior citizen, their physical and mental capabilities will likely need to be reviewed.
In preparing or litigating your case, you may require advice or testimony from medical experts who can show a judge or jury how and why a senior citizen’s deficiencies likely contributed to the accident that caused your injuries.
For example, if the senior citizen driver was on medication that can affect their ability to drive, then an expert can testify about the typical effects of that medication. If the medicine made the elderly driver drowsy or affected their reaction time, then that can be addressed when assessing fault, too.
Other evidence, such as witness testimony, photos, and police reports, will also play a significant role in proving fault.
Who Is Liable for Car Accidents Caused by Senior Citizen Drivers?
Generally, whoever caused a car accident is liable. However, there are also situations where the owner of the vehicle can be held responsible even when they weren’t driving.
Under Georgia law, the “family purpose doctrine” may hold vehicle owners liable for the negligence of a family member who was using the vehicle for a family purpose.
These forms of vicarious liability don’t exist if the senior citizen is the owner of the vehicle and he or she is of sound mind. The possibility exists for someone other than an elderly driver to be held liable for that elderly driver’s actions on the road, but it requires
Make sure to discuss these possibilities with your attorney.
What Happens If the Elderly Driver Dies in the Accident?
Unfortunately, when people die in car accidents, the effects can be far-reaching. If the elderly driver was at-fault and passed away in the car accident, the potential claim still survives through the driver’s estate.
An administrator must be appointed to handle the decedent’s estate before a claim can be made. As a result, the statute of limitations for claims against the deceased will be paused until an administrator is selected.
The claim will be defended by the elderly driver’s insurance company, as if he or she was still alive. Insurance companies know they are not off the hook if their insured dies in an auto accident. The costs of an accident need to be paid regardless, but insurance companies will do what they can to minimize their financial exposure.
Injuries Happen in Accidents Involving the Elderly, You’ll Want a Lawyer
Although accidents with senior citizens typically occur at slower-moving speeds, it does not mean injuries don’t happen. Vehicles are powerful machines that are capable of producing serious damage, no matter how fast they are going.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident involving a senior citizen driver, make sure you seek the advice of an experienced car accident lawyer. Call The Millar Law Firm today at (770) 400-0000 or contact us online to set up a free consultation with one of our attorneys.