Elderly Driver Accidents in Macon: What to Do

Macon, Georgia, like many communities across the United States, faces a growing population of senior citizens. While this demographic shift brings undeniable benefits, it also raises important concerns about traffic safety and elderly driver accidents.

This blog examines the legal issues surrounding senior driver crashes, offering guidance and useful tips from our experienced Macon, Georgia car accident attorneys.

Understanding Georgia’s Legal Framework

Georgia law recognizes that age alone is not a determining factor in driver competency. However, it does acknowledge the potential physical and cognitive changes associated with aging that may impact driving ability.

The Georgia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) requires drivers aged 64 and above to undergo a vision test and potentially, a written knowledge exam when renewing their driver’s license.

Determining Liability in Elderly Driver Accidents

Georgia law, like most states, operates under the principle of duty of care. This means every driver on the road has a legal obligation to act with reasonable caution and prudence to avoid causing harm to others. A breach of this duty, resulting in an accident, forms the basis for a claim of negligence.

Proving Negligence in Senior Driver Crashes

Establishing negligence in an elderly driver accident requires demonstrating four key elements:

  1. Duty of care: The elderly driver had a duty to operate their vehicle safely and in accordance with traffic laws. (O.C.G.A. § 40-6-2).
  2. Breach of duty: The elderly driver deviated from the standard of care expected of a reasonable driver, such as speeding, failing to yield, or driving under the influence.
  3. Causation: The elderly driver’s breach of duty directly caused the accident and resulting injuries or damages.
  4. Damages: The accident resulted in tangible harm to the victim, such as medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, or property damage.

Age as a Factor

It’s crucial to understand that age alone is not a legal basis for establishing negligence. Georgia law prohibits discrimination based on age, including in the context of driving. An elderly driver can only be held liable if their specific actions or capacity demonstrably deviated from the expected standard of care.

However, age can become a relevant factor in certain situations, particularly when there are:

  • Physical or cognitive limitations: Medical records or evidence can be presented to demonstrate if the elderly driver’s physical or cognitive limitations, such as poor vision, diminished reflexes, or cognitive decline, contributed to the accident.
  • Medical prescriptions: If the elderly driver was taking medications known to affect driving ability, such as certain sedatives or pain relievers, this information can be used to support a claim of negligence.
  • Driver evaluation findings: Georgia law empowers law enforcement officers to initiate a medical evaluation for drivers suspected of posing a safety risk due to medical conditions. The findings of such evaluations can be considered in determining liability.

senior drivers are at a higher risk of causing an accident

Comparative Negligence

Georgia also follows the principle of comparative negligence. This means if both the elderly driver and the other party involved in the accident contributed to the crash through their own negligence, the damages will be apportioned based on their respective percentages of fault.

For example, if the elderly driver is found 70% at fault and the other driver 30% at fault, the elderly driver would be responsible for 70% of the damages.

Legal Avenues for Victims of Elderly Driver Accidents

If you have been injured in an accident involving an elderly driver, you may have legal recourse. Options include:

  • Filing a personal injury lawsuit: This allows you to seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages resulting from the accident.
  • Filing a property damage claim: If your property was damaged in the accident, you can file a claim with your insurance company or directly with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
  • Seeking assistance from a lawyer: An experienced Macon, GA personal injury attorney can guide you through the legal process, negotiate a fair settlement, and represent you in court if necessary.

Navigating the Aftermath for Elderly Drivers

If you are an elderly driver involved in an accident, it is crucial to take the following steps:

  • Seek immediate medical attention: Even if you feel unharmed, it is vital to get checked out by a doctor to rule out any potential internal injuries.
  • Do not admit fault: While cooperating with law enforcement, avoid making statements or admitting guilt, as this could be used against you later.
  • Contact your insurance company: Inform your insurance company about the accident as soon as possible.
  • Consult with an attorney: Seeking legal counsel can help you understand your rights and protect your interests throughout the legal process.

Contact a Macon, Georgia Car Accident Attorney Right Away

Elderly driver accidents are a complex issue with significant legal implications. While navigating the aftermath of such an accident can be challenging, understanding the legal framework in Georgia and taking proactive steps can help ensure the safety of all drivers on the road.

If you’ve been involved in a senior driver crash, seek immediate help from a Macon, Georgia car accident lawyer by contacting Bethune Law Firm at 1-800-INJURED.