Elderly Driver Accidents
Across the country, there are millions of licensed drivers who are over the age of 65. While elderly people may wish to remain mobile and self-sufficient, the risk of serious injury or death in a car accident does increase with advanced age. Generally, drivers who are 75 or older have a higher accident rate than middle-aged drivers. This doesn’t mean that an elderly driver is always at fault for a crash, however. Every situation is different. In some cases, an elderly driver may crash into others on the road by not responding quick enough to road conditions. In other situations, elderly drivers may be seriously injured by a younger driver’s negligence or recklessness. If you were injured or loved one was killed in an elderly driver accident, you should talk to the Syracuse car accident attorneys of DeFrancisco and Falgiatano about whether you have grounds to sue for damages.Elderly Driver Accidents
Elderly drivers can experience diminished driving abilities due to age-related decline in night vision and cognitive functioning, along with physical changes. In addition, they face a higher risk of death in an accident because they are more vulnerable to serious injuries and complications due to age. New York is a no-fault state, which means an accident victim must turn first to her own personal injury protection insurance. The injured person can only sue another driver if she meets the threshold of "serious injuries.”
Assuming you meet the threshold to sue, you will need to prove negligence to establish liability in an elderly driver accident. Negligence requires proof of four elements: (1) the defendant owed a duty of care, (2) this was breached, (3) the breach caused injuries, (4) and actual damages. The duty of care while driving can be breached by tailgating, failure to adjust to weather conditions, speeding, driving under the influence of certain medications, road rage, and failing to obey signs and signals. For example, if you are an elderly driver and another driver becomes enraged with you for driving the speed limit, and he steers into your car, you may be able to recover damages for your serious injuries. Similarly, if an elderly driver under the influence of medication drifts into your lane causing a crash, you may be able to recover damages from the elderly driver.Comparative Negligence
Your damages in elderly driver accidents can be reduced by your percentage of fault under the doctrine of comparative negligence. The jury will review the evidence and assign percentages of fault to each party. Damages will be determined, but the amount you are owed will be reduced in proportion to your fault. For example, if you were paralyzed in a car accident and suffered damages of $800,000, if you are 20% responsible, you will only be able to recover $640,000. An experienced lawyer can evaluate your case and determine whether your personal injury award may be reduced by comparative negligence.Damages
If you can establish liability in a car accident, you may be able to recover compensatory damages, which includes both economic and noneconomic losses. Economic losses could include medical bills, lost wages, and out-of-pocket costs. Noneconomic losses include pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, and loss of consortium.
Often, elderly people sustain more harm and take longer to recover than younger people do. They do not heal quickly, so the medical treatment they need as a result of an accident may be more extensive. Under the eggshell plaintiff rule, plaintiffs are taken as they are found. In other words, a defendant can be liable for all your injuries, even if yours are greater than they would have been, had you been younger or healthier. For instance, when a fracture sustained by a young adult typically heals in a few months with little intervention, but your injury requires surgery and takes a year to heal because you are elderly, you can recover those increased damages.Consult an Experienced Syracuse Attorney
If you are the victim of an elderly driver accident, you should discuss whether you have a viable claim with our seasoned lawyers. We represent accident victims across upstate New York in Syracuse, Rochester, Watertown, Lowville, Oswego, Auburn, Canandaigua, Wampsville, Ithaca, Lyons, Oneida, Cooperstown, Utica, Elmira, Herkimer, and Binghamton. Complete DeFrancisco & Falgiatano’s online form or call us at 315-479-9000.