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Elderly Drivers and Car Accidents: Fighting for a Fair Settlement

elderly woman with glasses and hat

According to the CDC, there were 44 million people aged 65 and over who held a valid driver’s license in 2017. Many older people just like you struggle to maintain their independence, and driving is one important way to maintain control of one’s life.

As a senior citizen, you have the rights to drive and be on the road. Some seniors have health conditions that can get in the way of their ability to drive. But if you are able to safely drive, there is no reason that you can’t or shouldn’t.

Unfortunately, statistics show that people over the age of 75 have higher rates of traffic accidents. As such, they have higher insurance premiums and are required to renew their driver’s license earlier than other drivers. Senior drivers must renew their licenses at these intervals:

  • Six years for people aged 74 years and younger
  • Three years for people between the ages of 75-84 years
  • Two years for people aged 85 and older

Age-related illnesses such as cataracts and arthritis may make it difficult to drive, which is why drivers must renew their licenses more frequently as they age.

If you are in a car accident, insurance companies may use your age and any age-related health conditions to offer you a low settlement. But if you weren’t at fault, you can still fight for compensation, regardless of what the other party says.

Age should not affect fault

old classic car

Keep in mind that rarely is one driver 100 percent at fault for a car accident. In Indiana, fault can be shared between the involved parties. The percentage of fault determines what percentage of damages you are able to recover: if you are 50 percent or more at fault, you may not be able to recover anything.

It is unwise to drive if you have poor eyesight, if you have not renewed your license, or if your insurance has lapsed. But these should not keep you from recovering damages if you were not at fault. Be aware of Indiana’s No Pay No Play law if you are uninsured.

For example, imagine that you are rear ended while sitting at a stop sign. The police report shows that the person who hit you was texting and not paying attention. You did nothing wrong in this situation. It doesn’t matter if your license expired or if you unwisely chose not to wear your glasses to drive: regardless, you are not at fault.

The at-fault insurance may try to use this information against you to get out of paying full damages. They argue that you were driving against doctor’s advice or under the influence of certain medications. Even if all of this was true, it has no bearing on the amount of fault you have for the accident. An Indiana car accident attorney can explain your rights as a car accident victim.

Insurance is critical for older drivers

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COVID-19 has put everyone in a bit of financial bind. Many are making the tough decision to go without things like car insurance in order to save money.

While we understand that money is tight for many Americans, driving without car insurance is never a good idea. Car insurance is required for Indiana drivers so it is legally necessary even if you are driving less during this time. But while you may save money now, the financial consequences of lapsed insurance will far outweigh the benefits if you are in a collision.

Car insurance can pay for your losses if you are at fault for the car accident. It also protects you if the driver who caused the accident doesn’t have enough insurance to pay for your losses. Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and medical payments coverage pay for property damage and medical bills if the other driver can’t afford to pay. Without coverage, you will have to pay for everything out of your own pocket.

Unfortunately, the insurance company knows that it will be harder for an uninsured driver to get someone to fight for money on their behalf. Without the threat of another insurance company pressuring them to pay, the at-fault insurance provider may outright deny your claim. We have seen this happen in property-damage only collisions. The victim’s claim with the at-fault insurance company was denied and because the victim did not have car insurance, they were not able to pursue a fair settlement and had to pay for everything on their own.

Elderly drivers are more at risk for injury than younger drivers, and have more risk for car accidents over all. Because their losses are likely to be more severe, it is incredibly important for senior drivers to have insurance coverage.

Defensive driving tactics for older drivers

arrow on asphalt

It’s important that you listen to medical advice and take every safety precaution possible while you are driving. Defensive driving techniques can minimize your chances of sharing fault for a car accident.

Some of these precautionary measures include:

  • Requiring everyone in the car to wear a seatbelt
  • Avoiding driving during poor weather conditions or at night
  • Avoiding distracted driving such as texting or talking on the phone
  • Always driving while sober and clear-minded

Following medical advice also makes a difference. For example, if you need to wear glasses while driving, always make sure you have them available while on the road.

Some prescription medications make driving dangerous. As a senior, you may be at an elevated risk for side effects including confusion and drowsiness. Drowsiness and driving do not mix. Protect yourself and others by staying off the road while using these types of medication.

Help from an Indianapolis car accident attorney

Senior citizens deserve access to freedoms like driving if they can do so safely. As a senior driver, if you are in an accident it’s always a smart idea to get in touch with an Indiana personal injury attorney. It’s tempting to handle the situation on your own, but insurance companies are difficult to deal with when they want to be. Consult with an experienced Indiana attorney to learn more about recovering damages for your accident.

Dealing with the aftermath of a car accident can be an emotionally taxing time, but you don’t need to go through it alone. If you are a senior citizen who was recently injured in a car accident, please reach out to the personal injury attorneys at Hensley Legal Group. Contact us today for a completely free consultation about your case.