Loretta2 Asked September 2011

How do we deal with being the family responsible for an elderly driver involved in a car accident?

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Family responsibility for elderly driver involved in accident

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EXPERT Carol Bradley Bursack Sep 2011
If you are worried about your responsibility, I'd check with an attorney. This is likely a local matter. Trying to get an elder to stop driving is a caregiver's nightmare - and even a good doctor hates that question. Yet, it's a reality many face. Probably this won't be your responsibility, but if you have anyone suggest it is, please look into legal help right away.
Good luck,
Carol
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rko Sep 2011
If the elderly driver owns the vehicle, has insurance in their name and is physically and mentally able to operate a motor vehicle, I wouldn't imagine the family has any legal responsibility. However, I'd would question their legal obligation if it was known and acknowledged by the family that the driver had some physical or mental deficieny that would put them or the public at risk and did nothing to stop them from driving. My state administers nothing more than an eye test at the time a license is being renewed. Agility or mental awareness is rarely if ever tested. This sounds like a question for a good lawyer to answer.
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crystal1224 Jan 2013
This is also a grave concern for me as well as my father tried to drive two weeks ago and I was adamant that he not drive. Well the doctors will not tell him he can not drive so where does that leave the family? I told him the doctor says no to driving but will they pull his license? I think I need to address this again as I have told Hospice and the VA about it but it does no good. The doctor needs to tell him not me everytime he thinks he can drive. I know better! I feel like taking the keys and throwing them away. He did not get in his car and went back in the bed and did not talk to me the rest of the day. For the most part I think he KNOWS that he can not get behind the wheel anymore. It is too much stress for him for me and God forbid he hurts himself or someone else. He has not driven in three months and that is fine if he never drives again with me. As long as he lives in my home I will see to it and take him where he needs to go. The big thing is nothing will stop him if he gets insistent upon driving. I told him already several times he can not put me in that stress mood again with it. It is time to give up your driving when you are on meds and too weak to focus. End of story.
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NancyH Sep 2011
The asst living place where my mother-in-law has a gal at the front desk that I talk to all the time. As part of her keeping healthy after having heart issues, she's been walking her neighborhood. As she was passing by the driveway of the apartments near her, she saw an old lady at the wheel of a car. The driver seemed to see her walking because she hesitated but then suddenly sped up and ran her over. Whether the old lady really 'saw' the pedestrian or 'forgot' she saw her we don't know. But the long and short of it was, this gal survived but had almost a year of rehab with broken bones etc. The family of the old lady yanked her license and put her into asst living after that. Point is, since the family reacted the way they did, that tells me they probably already knew she needed to stop driving and not live alone anymore. So I'd say not to wait till someone gets hurt or killed. If you think your senior citizen COULD hurt themselves or someone else, then act not. Like Nike says, 'just do it'.
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palmtrees1 Oct 2011
I live in Florida. Enough said. The stories are unbelievable. Once my oldest daughter was working a summer job while in high school and on her way to work an elderly lady was driving the wrong way. Everyone honking, just kept on going. One ran into a doctor's office, through the windows into the waiting room. My husband's grandfather wouldn't give up his license, ran over a kid on a bike (kid was ok). I have seen people who can barely walk driving around by themselves. I one time had a lady ask me to read something to her since she couldn't see and then turn around, get in a car and drive off. There are stories of people getting on I-95 and just driving north until someone finds them and calls a son or daughter. I just hope I have enough sense to be able to admit I can no longer drive, not for me but for the people I could kill. My Mom is 81, drives everywhere, but is still good as far as I can tell. My brother pays her no attention, so someday I wouldn't be surprised if I get the call, "Mom has had an accident." I just hope no one else is hurt. Geez.
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exhausted1 Oct 2011
My heart goes out to you. This is a difficult subject at best.
We had to fight my husbands family to stop my mother-in-law from driving when she was obviously no longer competent. In fact, the sibling who fought hardest was almost in a head on collision while driving with mom who was driving in the on coming traffic lane! The DMV "tested" her by asking her questions, such as the names and ages of her children, etc., without knowing the answers! She "passed", although, at the time we know she wouldn't have been able to recall that information, and after being referred by her neurologist for the diagnosis of Alzheimer's! How's that for keeping the rest of us safe on the roads?
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Exhausted1, I totally sympathize with you. I am just now going thru the same thing myself with my soon to be 86 year old Mother. She was told by her neurologist that she was no longer able to drive, Parkinsons Dementia diagnosed 8 mos ago. The 1st 4 months she didn't drive. Then she decided one day to go to the store, and was sneaking off and driving when the mood hit. I live with her 5 days a week and do all the driving when I am there. The other 2 days a week my other sibliings are there (not 24/7). A couple months ago she decided she was able to drive and NOTHING was going to stop her. I called her Dr. and he said that if she was insistant on driving, she had to be tested and evaluated, which she did. She paid the $250.00 that it cost for the evaluation. Money she doesn't have.. And guess what?? They told her she passed! I told the instructor that she had problems but that didn't matter. He said from what he saw she was able to drive. And that if she was having a bad day he hoped that she would make the decision not to drive that day. I just looked at him and said "that is the problem, she NEVER thinks she is having a bad day" She thinks she is fine! Now we get to go back to the Neurologist . And to make things better ,we have changed doctors and will not be going back to the one who initally told her ABSOLUTELY NO DRIVING.
SO, I have an 86 yr old mother that SHOULDN"T be driving, who has been told she is able to drive and going to a Dr that MAY tell her that since she passed the drivers test it is ok for her to drive. And I KNOW it is just a matter of time before she kills someone, herself, my Father or an unknown. Good luck to all in the similar situation.
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Labs4me Jan 2013
Some states make it almost impossible to report an elderly for bad driving. My state is a self reporting state. Doctors are not required to report patients who should not be driving. My state cannot guarantee anonyminity when reporting elderly unsafe drivers. Now with online license renewals, dangerous drivers remain on the road longer. My state does mandate age 75 and over to renew at the Registry of Motor vehicles, but only for a vision test. What do you do when the law is more on the side of a senior's right to drive than family members who know better?
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hart Oct 2011
Please see your attorney. We just met with ours and he recommended that we make changes to my dad's auto insurance policy and to his trust. Our attorney emphasized over and over again with my father the importance of having these measures in place before the accident rather than after. It will cost a lot more after.
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cdeh61 Oct 2011
My husband's aunt was driving without a license & insurance and nothing we would say would stop her. Evidently, he started "modifying" her car, pulling the hand brake on so hard she had to have someone else loosen it and a finally pulling fuses so it wouldn't start. It became to hard to even get the car going and she finally hired a grocery shopping service. btw, she wouldn't let ME shop for her or do an errands!
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