No one likes to give up the privilege of driving. It is one of our first rites of passage
into adulthood and it is an expression of our freedom to go wherever we choose
whenever we choose. Many of us have been driving for decades without a single
accident. Why should a person’s age alone become a measure of whether they can
drive or not?
As people age though, physical changes often occur. Vision changes, for example.
Hearing changes. Reaction times slow down. Neuropathy affects the ability to feel
one’s foot on the pedal. Medications can affect a person’s reflexes. Have you ever
watched an older person scramble to answer their cellphone? They are still working
under the mindset that every phone call should be answered and if a phone is in a
purse while your loved one is driving, who knows whether it can be answered
without being a major distraction?
When you have the time, take a look at your parent’s car insurance policy, at the
details of the policy. EVERY POLICY HAS A LIMIT OF LIABILITY. This means that if the
driver has an accident that exceeds this limit of liability, the insurance company is
off the hook. Their contract for coverage is up to that limit, period. Who is
responsible for damages over that limit? The driver is responsible!
Many policies have limits of $250,000 or even less. When the typical pickup truck
costs $75,000 and many cars are worth over $100,000 and there is no shortage of
billboard lawyers willing to take a case and sue for $1 million in damages, is a policy
limit of $250,000 really sufficient?
Some seniors will argue that they rarely drive far from home, so they are fine. Back
in 2001, Progressive insurance conducted research with over 11,000 people &
found that over 52% of reported crashes occurred within five miles from home and
77% of accidents occurred within a 15-mile distance. Two decades later, the latest
accident statistics from the NHTSA paints a pretty similar picture. People are
actually less attentive when they are driving in their own neighborhoods!
Can your parents withstand a lawsuit of $1 million (or more)? If they lose, where
will the money come from? Their home, their investments, their bank accounts are
all fair game. They may not fully understand the consequences of continuing to
drive, but now you do.
Another issue to consider is this: If your parent’s driving is deteriorating, what else
is going on? Will they be able to make financial and legal decisions much longer?
Are they already making mistakes managing their money? Are the bills getting
paid? How easy or difficult will it be for you to step in, when needed, to help them?
Are their essential legal plans already in place and are they up to date?
These are issues that Elder Law attorneys deal with every day. If we can help you
chart a course through the minefield of being the responsible adult child, give us a
The Alabama Elder Care Law Firm, LLC
200 Office Park Drive, Suite 303
Mountain Brook, AL 35223