An active aging population means more people over 70 are driving on Philadelphia streets. It also means there’s a greater risk of accidents, as studies from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety indicate older drivers might have difficulties with cognitive, physical, and visual impairment.
However, even if an older person is clearly responsible for a wreck, the case might not be that simple. With the help of an attorney, you still need to prove liability to protect your legal right to recover compensation.
Common Causes of Car Accidents Involving Older Drivers
Many of the standard reasons for vehicle collisions don’t change as we age. We’re all capable of ignoring bad driving habits cultivated over time, such as changing lanes without signaling, cutting people off, running red lights, and so on.
Regrettably, older drivers may be hesitant to acknowledge or address additional risk factors that compromise their independence. Obviously, not every person over a specific age deals with all these issues, but generally, people 70 and older are more likely to:
- Experience vision problems
- Deal with poor coordination
- Have reduced reaction time
- Struggle with decreased arm strength
- Suffer from chronic pain that makes it difficult to check blind spots or turn to look out the back windshield
- Take medications that can cause drowsiness or otherwise interfere with driving ability
Of course, it’s important to understand that the other driver isn’t automatically at-fault for the crash and liable for your damages just because they’re an older person. You still need to prove the other driver ignored their basic duty of care and engaged in negligent driving behavior. Depending on the circumstances, acts of negligence include driving under the influence, tailgating, or something else.
The good news is that an experienced attorney can handle that process by thoroughly investigating the accident. A lawyer can use eyewitness testimony, medical records, video footage, and other sources to discover exactly who is liable—which may not always be the other driver—and then determine the best route toward financial recovery.
If the investigation indicates another party is at fault, your legal team works to protect your legal rights. This may mean negotiating with an insurance provider for the full amount you deserve, or instead presenting the facts of the case to a jury in a personal injury lawsuit.
What to Do After a Crash With an Older Driver
Older people, whether as drivers or passengers, are more likely to sustain catastrophic injuries in a vehicle collision. They’re more susceptible to broken bones and other wounds that are likely to involve a lengthy recovery. This means your first course of action should always be to check the health of everyone involved in the accident. When that issue is handled, you should then:
- Avoid interacting with anyone unless they obviously require immediate medical assistance. Further, don’t admit fault in any way at the scene, even by apologizing to try to make the other drivers and passengers calm down.
- Gather all contact information for eyewitnesses.
- Call 911. Unless you need to immediately head to the emergency room, wait for officers to arrive on the scene, and then provide a statement about what happened.
- Seek medical attention as soon as you can after departing the accident scene. This step is crucial for documenting exactly when you were injured and how badly. Additionally, a prompt medical exam provides insight into potentially extremely serious injuries you may not feel yet due to the adrenaline released during the accident. If you’re suffering from internal bleeding or a traumatic brain injury, it's critical to find out right away.
- Consult a Pennsylvania car accident attorney with experience in these types of cases.