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As to the question of liability of a family member or guardian for auto accidents of an elder, the family or guardian cannot be held liable if the elder is driving a car registered in their own name. Can the elders estate be affected? Yes.

Courts assign non family members as guardians commonly. These people do not get sued when the elder has a wreck and causes death or damage. The same statues apply to family members who are poa and guardians.

If a family POA were to give the keys to his car to great grandad who goes out and t bones a school bus, the car and insurance are in the POAs name, this POA individual could be in trouble.

Having said all that, I'm not a lawyer but I spoke to an elder law attorney about this question as I was having my POA reviewed and this was her opinion.

But remember, anyone can get sued for anything. Doesn't mean it will succeed. But I would think that if the kids of demented drivers were losing their life savings in lawsuits every time granny has a wreck we would be hearing lots about it.
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I wish there was a good answer to this. My Grandfather did the exact same thing about 4 months ago and never told us that he had a court summons or ticket from the accident. So we got information about this by accident (mind the pun), that he had a bill from a court in VA for about $225. The major issue here is that older people don't fully understand their own limitations and what someone said earlier, the burden of proof is that the plaintiff would have to prove that everything about the elderly person's condition was known.
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Rovana, this just occurred to me....there may be a clause in your father's auto policy requiring him to disclose any factors which might affect his driving. Sometimes these policies are so complex that it's easy to sneak in something like that that covers a spectrum of conditions and puts the burden on the policy holder to disclose potential risk factors.

Reading an insurance policy is worse than reading IRS instructions, so it's easy for someone to miss one of these broad liability clauses. I doubt if very may people read their insurance policies anyway.
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Rovana, there are some issues of proof relating to someone suing your family for your father's negligence.

First, an attorney would have to prove that your family "knew or should have known" that your father was a driving risk How they would prove that would probably depend on case law, if there are similar suits. Someone would generally need access to the Lexis/Nexis software to check suits in which a similar decision had been made.

An attorney would probably subpoena your father's medical records to see if a dementia diagnosis had been made, and/or if any reference to cessation of driving had also been made.

Second, there might be a stronger case if as you query there was obvious dementia, diagnosed, not just observed, as an observation by nonmedical professionals might not meet the standard for proving dementia

Third, the query on whether the insurance company could refuse coverage is an interesting one. I don't know the answer to that but I believe that case law also might be helpful to determine if coverage had been rejected. The best way to find out is to ask your insurance carrier, but that puts you in a position of inferring that you know there are issues. That's not a call I would want to make.

Fourth, in order to lien your father's assets a judgment would have to exceed policy limits. Some generally would have to be catastrophically injured, or killed.

Fifth, judges can be oriented toward plaintiff or defense - they aren't always as impartial as they could be. They are human, and do have their own preferences. In addition, courts in different counties have reputations for being plaintiff or defense oriented.

For example, counties in which the population is primarily educated and wealthy, such as some in Connecticut, would likely be defense oriented. Counties of working class people would more likely be plaintiff oriented.

So it, varies.

Sixth, venue is another issue. I haven't checked court rules on this issue in years but in Michigan it used to be that an injured party could sue in the county where an accident occurred, in the county in which he or she resided, or in the county in the defendant resided. If any of these counties are working class counties, that would likely be the choice for any lawsuit.

Seventh, litigators have for years been using jury consultants, who can sit with the attorneys during voir dire when potential jurors are queried and offer advice on which ones would be more sympathetic to the attorney's client. Some of this is guesswork, some is psychology based on a person's education and profession.

Big cases with a lot at stake are more likely to have jury consultants.

So there are a lot of considerations to be factored into account.
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Freqflyer, is there a possibility that an aggressive plaintiff's attorney could come after a family member who knew Dad was unsafe and did nothing about it? I'm talking about obvious dementia or other unfitness, such as spells of unconsciousness, etc. Could the insurance company refuse to cover on the grounds that if they had known the true facts they would have cancelled the policy? At any rate, I'm sure that once the insurance payout was used up, they could still go after Dad's personal assets.
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JjfBcaregiver, and no, the insurance companies won't come after you, unless you gave Dad the keys to your own car knowing he was a risk behind the wheel.
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Liability could be much more than what his insurance covers. A good personal injury attorney would take everything he owns. Juries are very sympathetic to the innocent victim. Now that you have publicly acknowledged his risk, they could even sue you for negligence. Get him off the road.
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Plus, it's not just about the money. There are innocent people, including your dad and the public, who could be killed or severely injured as a result. No money can compensate for that. It's just cruel to not protect them. The dementia prevents them from thinking clearly. If they were using good judgment, they wouldn't keep driving.
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It can be huge. If he's at fault lawsuits could clean out his estate. If your asking this question I have to assume your worried about his driving. Search this site for info on elders and driving. It can be tough to take away the keys but if he's a danger to himself and others this can't be ignored.
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Any accident in which your dad is found to be at fault would be covered first by his automobile insurance policy, next by an umbrella policy if he had one SNF, finally, if an award exceeded the limits on both of those policies, from your dad's personal assets.
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