In 2016, the Federal Highway Administration and Department of Transportation conducted a study on the ages of drivers in the United States. The study showed that there were 42 million licensed drivers that were age 65 or older. This represented a 56 percent increase over their last study conducted in 1999.
As more Baby Boomers approach their golden years, the number of elderly drivers will continue to increase. With this increase comes some risk for other road users.
As we age, our reflexes become slower, and our vision and hearing may not be as sharp as it was in the past. These changes are age-related and obviously, no one is at fault, but they can and do impact the ability to drive safely. A report released by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) shows that in 2016 over 290,000 people age 65 or older were treated in an emergency room for injuries sustained in a car crash. That same report reflected that 7,400 people lost their lives in this age bracket due to vehicular accidents. This averages out to 814 people being injured or killed in a car accident every day who are aged 65 and above.
North Carolina Is A Contributory Negligence State
When involved in a car crash with an elderly person, it is not uncommon to want to claim some share of the responsibility for the accident. Placing the blame entirely on someone that looks like your own grandmother is almost impossible. Then you add in the thought that they are elderly and may lose their driving privileges so, when the police arrive, you play down their role in the accident.
As much as this may make you feel at peace with yourself, sharing the responsibility will prevent you from making a claim for compensation for all of your losses. North Carolina is one of the few states that still have a contributory negligence law in effect. This law states that if you are injured in an accident of any kind and you are even partially responsible for the event, you are not entitled to seek any type of compensation for your injuries or losses.
Medical bills can skyrocket in a very short period of time. Lost income from not being able to go to work can impact your entire life. The losses add up quickly, and by sharing the responsibility, you cannot make a claim.
It is in your best interest not to lay blame anywhere when an accident happens. If the cause is apparent, say the person ran a red light and smashed into your car at an intersection, then it is okay to make a statement. But, if there is any question whatsoever on how the accident happened, simply answer any questions posed to you at the scene of the accident with “I don’t know.” This is the best way to protect your rights as an accident victim.
Contact A North Carolina Car Accident Attorney
Once you have received treatment for your injuries and your health is stabilized, contact a car accident attorney to review the details of your accident. Your attorney will step in immediately to represent you and your case and instruct you and what and what not to say, moving forward. Your local North Carolina based attorney will examine the police reports and evidence to determine the fault of the accident. They may even bring in an accident reconstruction service to prove that you were not responsible for the event. Your local attorney will also begin handling all of the communicating between you and the insurance company. Allowing your attorney to speak on your behalf means that nothing that is said can be interpreted as accepting fault for any part of the accident.
No one wants to place the blame for an automobile accident on an elderly driver. However, no one wants to be overwhelmed with medical expenses and lost wages due to no fault of their own. If you have been involved in any type of accident, speak with a car accident attorney area about your case so that you can protect your rights and seek compensation for your damages.