Legal Liability for a Crash Caused by an Elderly Parent

elderly driver behind the wheelAs parents get older, adult children often have many concerns and difficult decisions to make. One concern is discussing when it may be time for an elderly parent to stop driving.

Having a driver’s license is a way for the elderly to maintain their freedom. However, with age comes medical conditions that can make them unsafe drivers.

What if your elderly parent causes a crash? Could you be held liable for damages?

Sigman Janssen discusses legal liability in these cases. We know how tough it can be to take away an elderly parent’s driving privileges. Many elderly parents want to keep driving for as long as possible. Still, it may be necessary to help keep them and everyone else safe on the road.

If you need legal help after a crash, our attorneys are here to help. We have recovered millions in compensation for our clients, including $2 million for a car crash victim who sustained multiple orthopedic injuries. The initial consultation is free of charge and comes with no obligation to hire us.

Call Us Today at (877) 888-5201.

Do Elderly Drivers Cause More Car Crashes?

Overall, elderly drivers tend to be safer drivers. They are involved in fewer car crashes than younger drivers. This is because elderly drivers have more experience behind the wheel, are usually more cautious on the road, and are willing to abide by speed limits and other traffic laws. However, it is an unavoidable fact that aging causes a gradual decline in both vision and physical reaction times.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the risk of sustaining serious or fatal injuries in a car crash increases among drivers aged 70 or older per mile driven. The reason for this increased risk is because of many medical conditions that affect the elderly and their ability to drive:

  • Cataracts
  • Arthritis
  • Muscle weakness
  • Dementia
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Diabetes complications
  • Heart conditions
  • Hearing loss

For instance, an elderly driver with early on-set dementia may get confused and drive the wrong way on the road. An elderly driver with declining vision, especially traveling at night, may misjudge distances, make improper turns, or fail to yield at intersections and can potentially cause a catastrophic car crash.

Can I Be Held Liable If My Elderly Parent Causes a Crash?

In most cases, adults are responsible for their own actions behind the wheel. If your elderly parent is of sound mind and capable of making decisions for himself or herself, you generally may not be held liable if he or she causes a car crash. Being responsible for an elderly parent from a legal standpoint does not automatically create liability. However, there are some important exceptions.

For instance, if you knowingly allowed an elderly parent to get behind the wheel with some form of dementia, you may be assessed with fault for a crash. This includes loaning your car to an elderly parent you know is unfit to drive. This is known as “negligent entrustment”.

Every case is unique, which is why we recommend speaking with a licensed Appleton car crash attorney sooner rather than later to learn more about your legal responsibilities in a free case review.

Does Wisconsin Have Laws About Being Too Old to Drive?

Wisconsin has no laws about this. However, there are laws for license renewals once drivers turn 65. Maintaining a valid license does depend on one’s ability to drive safely. Drivers under age 65 may renew their license online but after age 65, drivers must go to the DMV for license renewals every eight years.

During the renewal process, the DMV will determine if the functional capabilities of a driver may interfere with his or her ability to exercise ordinary and reasonable operation of a motor vehicle.

Drivers may be required to pass a vision, written and/or road test under certain circumstances. Should there be any concerns, the DMV may ask for additional testing or a copy of the driver’s medical report.

Discussing Unsafe Driving With Your Elderly Parent

Having an elderly parent give up driving is no easy task. Most adult children have a hard time raising concerns when they suspect an elderly parent should no longer be able to drive.

However, it is important to communicate your concerns. Some ways that may help an elderly parent come to terms with the decision to stop driving include just being open and honest. Be sure to approach the situation in a sensitive manner without causing him or her embarrassment.

Schedule a time that is convenient for him or her and talk about driving and safety without being pushy, demanding or confrontational. It may take some time for an elderly parent to agree with you that it is unsafe to drive. He or she may also have concerns or fears to talk to you about.

Community resources may also be available to help you develop a plan of action. The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration offers a variety of resources for elderly drivers and their loved ones.

Reach Out to Our Firm for Trusted Legal Help

At Sigman Janssen, we have many years of experience fighting for the rights of victims injured in preventable crashes. We are ready to review your situation and answer any legal questions you may have during a risk-free, zero-obligation consultation. There are no upfront costs to hire our firm.

Available 24/7 to Take Your Call: (877) 888-5201