Senior driving presents a complex issue for lawmakers and administrative bodies trying to figure out how to prevent accidents. The elderly drive less than younger individuals, but they also have more car accidents per mile.
Healthy older drivers are not necessarily more dangerous drivers than younger ones, but older drivers do tend to suffer from health problems that can affect their ability to drive safely. Among these issues are arthritis, dementia, and the need to use multiple medications that together may cause drowsiness or other side effects that can adversely affect driving.
Different states follow different licensing rules with regard to elderly drivers. No state revokes a driver's license based solely on age, but more than 30 states have additional requirements associated with aging drivers. This includes increased vision testing and making elderly drivers renew their licenses more frequently than their younger counterparts. These more stringent requirements kick in at different ages. In at least one state, a special requirement kicks in at 40.
Wrongful Death and the Elderly Driver
If you are an elderly person who has caused a fatal crash or you are the family member of an elderly person who was killed by a negligent driver, you may be wondering who can bring a wrongful death lawsuit. States have different laws about who is permitted to sue for compensatory damages when a person is killed in a fatal crash and the order of priority to bring the lawsuit. Generally, close family members such as spouses, children, and parents can bring a suit.
The spouses or children of elderly drivers killed in a car crash caused by a negligent driver may be able to bring a wrongful death lawsuit to recover compensatory damages. These may include medical expenses, funeral expenses, out-of-pocket expenses, loss of companionship, and pain and suffering. However, an elderly person's remaining life expectancy is shorter, and this does get factored into testimony presented by economists about the appropriate amount of damages.
The death of an elderly person may involve limited damages. It is often assumed that anyone over retirement age no long has earning potential. Furthermore, most of the time, the children of the elderly are adults who may not need guidance or support of the same degree needed by minors whose parents die.
Adults who know their aging parent is no longer a safe driver should take action. For example, it is important not to loan your vehicle to an elderly relative who no longer drives safely or who has serious health problems like dementia or vision loss. In most states, the owner of a vehicle can be held liable for negligent entrustment if he or she loans or gives a vehicle to an elderly person who causes an accident.
Furthermore, if you know that your loved one is not a safe elderly driver, most state's licensing bodies have an office that allows family members or doctors to register their concerns about an unsafe elderly driver. The office can investigate, and the elderly driver may be asked to take a road test.