With the large number of elderly people in the United States, chances are, you have probably read a story or two – most likely more – about a tragic car wreck involving an older person behind the wheel of a car. Oftentimes, these stories are not only about severe injuries but fatalities. The risk of fatality for a person over 80 increases dramatically.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes, “the risk of being injured or killed in a motor vehicle crash increases as you age. An average of 500 older adults are injured every day in crashes.” In fact, in 2008 over 5,500 were killed in motor vehicle crashes. As the population continues to age, these statistics will only worsen, and the fatalities of older Americans will – sadly – increase. Most elderly people who drive live at home and are not yet in health care facilities.
That said, even if these elderly drivers are at home, if they health care professionals in the home, those individuals, who oversee their care, are fully responsible for their health and well-being. That means they must ensure that the senior is able to operate a car safely. If this is not done appropriately, negligence occurs if this duty is not covered. It is also considered a form of elderly neglect, as the health care professional is responsible for determining whether or not the senior’s behavior is such that enables him or her to drive a vehicle.
The CDC also offers guidelines for senior citizens to stay safe on the roads. Those are the following:
1) Stick to a regular exercise schedule 2) Talk to your doctor and pharmacist about the medications you have been prescribed – make sure to ask about the possibility of these medications having negative side-effects on your ability to operate and drive a vehicle 3) Try to avoid bad weather and also drive during the day and not at nighttime 4) Try to remain focused on the road – avoid distractions such as listening to the radio, talking on the telephone, eating food, or texting 5) Carefully plan your route on trips to places that are unfamiliar to you 6) Get your eyes checked on a regular basis 7) If you are feeling nervous about the trip, ask a friend or family member to drive you to your destination or opt for public transportation
While those are the things an individual can tend to in order to be safer on the road, a health care professional’s job requires them to take the extra step to make sure that the person under their care is – as already mentioned – fully competent and able to drive. Unfortunately, there are too many instances in which this is not the case, and the results are absolutely devastating. When tragedy does strike, that is when a bereaved family needs superb counsel to seek damages for their loss. Such tragedy is oftentimes the result of severe and even willful negligence, something a grieving family should not ignore.