How Are the Elderly Affected By Car Accidents?

Updated on September 15, 2023
Girl helping senior woman on wheelchair getting into a car, horizontal

Car accidents can be devastating for anyone involved regardless of age, but senior citizens tend to be impacted the worst by crashes. 

Unfortunately, older folks tend to have weaker bodies as a result of aging. This makes them more susceptible to injuries and serious harm, but it also affects how they are perceived in car accidents. 

This can be extremely frustrating because it will result in situations where an innocent senior is unable to get the compensation they deserve after a crash. This will lead to a dispute about the value of your claim, which is exhausting and time-consuming. 

If you are an older citizen, it can be difficult to accept that your body is wearing down and driving may not be the safest activity for you. Understanding how a car accident will affect your life can help you appreciate this.

To help you stay safe, we’ll outline how the elderly are affected by car accidents below. 

Assumption of Fault

One of the most insulting outcomes of an accident is the assumption of fault

Many other drivers assume that older drivers are bad at driving. This is not always true, but there is a correlation between age and decreased eyesight. 

As you age, it is natural for your eyesight to gradually worsen. This is why many seniors wear glasses. Unfortunately, this weakened eyesight makes it difficult to pay attention during crucial activities like driving.

With this in mind, older drivers can be worse drivers as a result of their eyesight, but the blanket statement that the elderly are bad at driving is false. Despite this, you are often blamed when you are involved in road accidents simply because you are older. 

Because of this, you’ll likely need to work harder to prove fault in a lawsuit. Without convincing evidence either way, it’s easy for others to draw inaccurate conclusions about who caused the crash. 

Harsher Injuries

Making matters worse, the injuries you sustain are often far harsher than a younger person would experience in a crash.

Another product of aging is a weaker body. You lose muscle and your bones aren’t as strong as they once were. Because of this, you feel impacts more

The problem here is that your bones and muscles are essential for protecting you. When they are weakened, you are vulnerable to serious accidents that can easily bypass the few defenses your body has left. 

This means that seniors are more likely to experience injuries from a crash. They’re also more likely to be serious or deadly. Furthermore, older citizens spend longer in the hospital to recover from their wounds.

Considering the high risk of serious injury, seniors must only drive if they can safely do so.  

Reduced Damages

When you go to file a claim, you will inevitably receive reduced damages

This happens for two connected reasons.

First, you are deemed to have a lower earning potential. Part of what goes into your compensation offer is how your income-earning ability is affected. Because seniors are often retired and make little income, this results in a lower calculation of lost income. 

The other part of this is that the elderly generally have fewer people relying on them if any. Should you be unable to provide, it is assumed to affect fewer people and therefore reduces what your settlement is valued at by insurance companies.  

For these reasons, insurance companies tend to think that the financial impact of a car accident is lesser for seniors. While you may make less, you still deserve fair compensation that typically isn’t represented in an offer you’ll get. 

Realization of Limitations

One final result of an accident is the realization of your limitations

After living a long life, it’s not easy to embrace a changing body. You may miss things you once had or were able to do, but it’s just a natural part of getting older.

While you may not be a bad driver, you will always be at a higher risk on the road if you have decreased eyesight. Driving is particularly difficult to give up or cut back on because it symbolizes your freedom and autonomy. 

An accident can quickly change that. If you’re in a crash that you caused, then this is one of the most sobering moments possible. Realizing the consequences of your decision to drive unsafely should be enough to convince you to rethink things. 

You may not need to give up driving all the time, but meet with your doctor and listen to their honest advice. Your safety and the wellbeing of other drivers are far more important than the ability to drive and an accident will make you realize this after it’s too late. 

Closing Thoughts

Senior citizens tend to have it particularly rough in car accidents. They are not treated similarly by insurance companies, nor is the physical impact on their bodies the same.

In particular, elderly drivers are affected in a few specific areas. This includes an assumption of fault for the crash, harsher injuries, reduced damages, and a realization of their limitations. 

If you or a loved one has had any concerns about your driving or eyesight recently, don’t overlook it! You certainly don’t want to hurt anyone else and you can easily prevent this by accepting what you can and can’t safely do.


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