In a recent post, we asked whether adult children can be held liable for accidents caused by an aging parent who refuses to quit driving. The concern is one that many people have to deal with at some point. Giving up the ability to drive as an elderly person is a big change, and one that many are not keen to make.
Car accident litigation is typically based on premise that that the driver failed to uphold an established duty and that such negligence caused the plaintiff’s harm. For drivers, there is a general duty to always exercise reasonable care in the operation of a motor vehicle, and this implies following all traffic regulations. For a plaintiff, successfully pursuing litigation requires identifying parties whose failure to exercise an established duty caused or contributed to their harm.
In order for a car accident plaintiff to hold an adult child responsible for an accident caused by an elderly parent, it would have to be shown that there is some recognized legal duty the adult child had to prevent the parent from causing harm to others, either in general or specifically while driving.
Such legal duty is generally not currently recognized, though adult children—particularly those who have power of attorney—should consider that they have a moral obligation to do what they can to prevent an aging parent from getting behind the wheel when it becomes dangerous for them to do so. In some states, physicians do have a duty to report elderly drivers they feel should not be getting behind the wheel.
For those who have been harmed by an elderly driver, it is important to work with an experienced personal injury attorney to ensure they explore all their avenues for pursuing liability.