What if My Elderly Parent Causes a Crash?
Posted on behalf of Goldberg Finnegan, LLC on May 31, 2022 in Car Accidents
As parents age, there are many concerns adult children may have, such as driving. While being older does not automatically affect someone's driving abilities, the aging process can make some people less safe behind the wheel. This is especially true if circumstances or physical changes affect an aging parent’s ability to safely operate a vehicle. This raises questions about when parents should stop driving or what could happen if an elderly parent causes a crash.
Goldberg Finnegan looks at some of the questions and concerns that come into play with driving and elderly parents. However, if an elderly parent is involved in a crash, we strongly recommend always consulting with an attorney for legal help.
Contact our firm to learn more about your potential legal options after a crash. Our experienced auto accident lawyers in Silver Spring are ready to help. We have intake staff available to take your call 24/7.
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Are You Liable for Damages if Your Elderly Parent Causes a Crash?
In a case where an elderly parent causes a crash, an adult child is unlikely to be held liable. However to fully answer this question, it is important to remember how liability is determined after a crash. Many factors must be considered, such as vehicle damages, witness statements, medical records and more. Only then can your lawyer determine if a driver neglected to uphold a duty of care and whether that failure caused another person harm.
If an elderly parent is assessed with fault for a crash, there are a few exceptions where an adult child may have liability for his or her aging parent’s actions. For instance, an adult child may have liability if there is sufficient evidence that he or she had a legal duty for his or her parent.
What About Negligent Entrustment?
Negligent entrustment could be a legal exception where an adult child could be liable for a crash caused by an elderly parent.
For example, if the adult child loaned his or her vehicle to an elderly parent despite knowing:
- The parent had a medical condition that made it dangerous for him or her to drive
- The elderly parent's license had already been revoked for a medical condition
To learn who may be liable for your elderly parent's crash, we strongly recommend seeking counsel from a qualified attorney He or she can review your situation and determine whether negligent entrustment or other legal exceptions may apply.
Are Elderly Parents More Likely to Cause a Crash?
Teen drivers, between 16-19 still have the highest crash risk of any age group. Additionally, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drivers aged 65 and older are more likely to drive responsibly.
However, when older drivers are involved in a crash, they are more likely to suffer serious or fatal injuries due to their physical vulnerability.
Also common among aging drivers is the onset of physical challenges such as hearing or vision loss and various degrees of arthritis. Even when a medical condition is not enough to fully keep someone from driving, certain medical restrictions may become necessary.
What Laws Apply to Senior Drivers in Maryland?
From age 40 and older, drivers must renew their license every five years, and pass a vision test. The Maryland Motor Vehicle Association (MVA) can conduct vision tests for free, or drivers can opt to get them done by an approved outside provider. However, the vision certification must be completed within 24 months of renewing your license.
Reporting Medical Conditions
Elderly drivers must report to the MVA any medical conditions that may make it unsafe for them to operate a vehicle. This information remains confidential and is only used by the MVA to determine a driver’s ability to continue to operate a vehicle safely.
To report any medical conditions that may affect your ability to operate a vehicle, drivers must obtain and submit a doctor’s certificate. This document must detail the onset of a driver’s condition, diagnosis and any medications prescribed.
Common medical conditions that must be reported to the MVA include heart conditions, strokes, diabetes, dementia, Alzheimer’s and more.
Medical Restrictions That May Be Applied
If the MVA determines a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely has diminished, it may impose restrictions on the driver.
Requirements imposed on elderly drivers could include:
- Being barred from driving on the freeway
- Not being permitted to drive at night
- Avoiding certain geographic areas
- Not driving at certain times of day, such as during rush hour
- Wearing special bioptic telescopic lenses while driving
- Installing an additional right-side mirror on the vehicle
How Do You Discuss Giving Up Driving With an Aging Parent?
Stay in close communication with your elderly parent. Watch and listens for signs they may be feeling less comfortable behind the wheel.
Early warning signs may include a parent who is always nervous about driving. Other concerns include if your parent easily gets lost, cannot see road signs, or has difficulty changing lanes or driving through intersections.
If your parent has become an unsafe driver, it may be necessary to discuss when and how they should give up driving. However, it is important to be sensitive with them and remember they have not done anything wrong. Some helpful tips for discussing this difficult topic include:
- Speaking to them in private, not public
- Pick a time when they are calm and well-rested
- Do not catch them off guard - try to prepare them
- Give them time to digest the reality
- Get them involved in assessing their driving abilities
- Help them discover other methods of transportation
Contact Our Law Firm for Legal Help After a Crash
Goldberg Finnegan has been helping injury victims for decades. We are dedicated to seeking full and fair compensation for damages caused by the negligence of others.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a crash you did not cause, we are ready to help. Even if you are unsure of your legal options, it may benefit you to speak with a qualified attorney. Your initial consultation at our firm is completely free. If you choose to hire our services, there are no upfront costs and no fees while we handle your case.
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