At-fault parties have to take a victim as they find them. It’s called the eggshell skull rule (based on a previous court case). They can’t argue they shouldn’t be liable for certain damages because a person was more vulnerable to injury.
There’s a vast amount of information online about what accident victims or their surviving family members can and should do. There’s guidance on steps to take after an accident, how to file a personal injury lawsuit, and who can file a wrongful death suit.
All of this legal information is important, but it all has an issue in common. Many law firms gear it toward previously non-disabled individuals. The content focuses on victims who had full physical capabilities at the time of the accident and now suffer from a temporary injury or permanent condition.
But car crashes, slip and falls, and other accidents don’t impact young or middle-aged non-disabled individuals only. People with disabilities and who are over the age of 65 with limited mobility or other medical conditions experience serious accidents, too. How they and their families address pursuing compensation, though, differs from the process for a previously non-disabled person.
Vulnerable Populations in the U.S.
There are about 73 million baby boomers in the U.S., according to the U.S. Census Bureau. About 10,000 boomers turn 65 years old every day, and by 2030, every boomer will be at least 65 years old.
Taking the boomer generation’s age into account is important. The American population will have a much larger percentage of seniors than ever before. People over 65 years old made up 12.4% of the population in 2000 and 16% by 2018. In the coming years, they’ll hold an even greater share. As a consequence, more seniors might be involved in serious accidents.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 61 million adults, about 26%, have a disability. More than 1.3 million individuals between the ages of 16 and 20 years have a disability in the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Tens of millions of individuals with disabilities go to school, work, travel, and live full lives in the U.S. and also experience devastating accidents.
Seniors Face a Higher Risk of Injury and Death in Crashes
Owning a car and being able to drive are key factors in being independent in the U.S. In most areas of the country, public transportation is sorely lacking. If people want to run errands and visit friends and family, they need transportation.
Seniors, in particular, want to remain mobile and independent. They don’t want to rely too heavily on their children, friends, or ride services. But seniors and their families have to consider the consequences of being behind the wheel. Though older drivers aren’t more likely to be in a crash, they’re more likely to be injured or killed if involved in a collision.
In 2017, about 7,700 adults aged 65 and older died in motor vehicle crashes. More than 257,000 were treated in the ER for injuries, according to the CDC. Every day, collisions cause injuries to more than 700 seniors.
Researchers at the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) also found a higher risk of death to the elderly. They reviewed police-reported crashes between 1990 and 1995. Driver crash involvement rates per capita decreased with age. However, fatal involvement rates per capita increased with age after 70.
The IIHS researchers calculated that crash involvement for older drivers could increase by 178% by 2030 and would account for about 40% of the anticipated increase in all crashes. Fatal involvement for older drivers could increase by 155% by 2030, and drivers 65 years and older would account for more than half of the total increase in deadly crashes.
Seniors Face a Higher Risk of Fall Injuries
The factors that make seniors more vulnerable to injuries and death in car crashes exist in all other types of incidents as well. Consider slip and falls. Seniors might suffer a fall in another person’s home, at a business, on public property, or at a care facility.
Falls are a leading cause of injuries and deaths in U.S. seniors. Every year, 3 million seniors are treated in ERs for fall-related injuries, and over 800,000 of them are hospitalized, according to the CDC. The most common reasons for hospitalization are hip fractures and head injuries.
Between 2007 and 2016, fall death rates climbed 30% for older adults, according to the CDC. If the fatal falls continued to increase at the same rate, the CDC anticipates seven fall deaths each hour by 2030.