Elderly Car Accidents – Is age really a factor?

Driving can be a dangerous activity. While many motor vehicle trips occur every year without problem, in 2009, there were 372 traffic fatalities in Iowa alone, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

One group of people that often receives a lot of attention concerning their ability to drive is the elderly. Many people believe that the elderly lack the reaction time and fluid decision-making skills to drive and thus are at greater risk of causing accidents. For some insight regarding elderly car accidents, take a look at the following statistics.

Car Accident Fatalities in Iowa from 2007-2010

The state of Iowa had a total of 1,619 traffic fatality deaths between the years of 2007 and 2010, according to a report published by the Iowa Department of Public Health.

These traffic fatalities included accidents involving all manner of vehicles.

  • cars.
  • pick-up trucks.
  • motorcycles.
  • and, heavy-transport.

Those least likely to be involved in a fatal car accident were the age groups of females ages 25 through 44 and 45 through 64, each with a death rate of 5.2 per 100,000 population. Females 75 and above were more than twice as likely to be involved in a fatal car accident compared to these two age groups.

Males 75 and above had an even higher death rate than their female counterparts at 12.5 per 100,000. However, the group with the highest death rate was males ages 15 through 24 at 15 per 100,000.

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that every day, an average of 500 adults ages 65 and older are injured in a crash nationwide.

These statistics don’t reveal who caused the accidents. The high death rates among elderly drivers may be related to poor driving ability and/or susceptibility to serious injuries in accidents. Still, older drivers may have health conditions that may interfere with driving ability, including poor hearing or vision. Cognitive decline may affect some elderly drivers as well, and may contribute to elderly car accidents.

If you’re an elderly driver, the following tips may improve your chances of surviving an automobile accident.

  • wearing your seat belt.
  • exercising regularly to improve your immune system, strength, and flexibility.
  • driving only during good weather.
  • having your vision checked.
  • and, planning your route prior to driving.

When the time comes that driving becomes too dangerous, elderly drivers should explore alternative transportation options. Elderly drivers in Des Moines can refer to Polk County’s guide A Way to Go: Transportation Resources for Seniors of Polk County for helpful resources.

Is age a defense to liability for an elderly car accident?

No, age is not a valid defense that an elderly driver may use to deflect liability for the accident. A driver with poor vision or hearing or declining cognitive ability may be more prone to make mistakes on the road, and such health conditions do not excuse them from liability if they cause an accident.

That said, other drivers may not argue an elderly driver is liable simply because he or she is elderly. Evidence must demonstrate which party acted negligently and caused the collision.

If an elderly driver caused a car accident in which you were injured, that driver’s liability insurance is responsible for your damages. Iowa requires all drivers demonstrate financial responsibility for personal injury and damages they cause. Many do so by purchasing bodily injury and property damage liability.

Seek Legal Help if Involved in an Elderly Car Accident

If you’ve been injured in an elderly car accident that resulted in serious injury, then seek the assistance of a personal injury attorney. At Walker, Billingsley & Bair, our attorneys are ready to take on your case and can explore liability for the accident to demonstrate the other driver’s fault.

For more information about your rights as an accident victim in Des Moines, or to begin filing your case, call us today at 888-435-9886. 

Corey Walker
With 19 years legal experience, Corey has been recognized for his work as an injury attorney.