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Mother of accident victim advocates safety for elderly drivers

The car accidents that get the most media attention in Maryland tend to be the ones where one driver was clearly at fault. When a drunk driver, for example, injures or kills someone, it's easy for the public to understand that the driver did something wrong.

Finding fault is not so easy in many cases involving car accident injuries. And in some cases, even when it's not hard to see who was at fault, few people feel any satisfaction in condemning the driver.

Four years ago in Baltimore, a 20-year-old college student was struck by a car while riding his bicycle near campus. He suffered severe brain damage, fell into a coma and died six months later. The accident was caused by an 83-year-old woman who hit the student with her car. The driver's age may have contributed to the accident.

The mother of the student has since become an advocate for teaching older drivers about their physical and mental limitations that could impact their abilities to safely operate vehicles on the road. In a recent newspaper interview, the woman said that older drivers may not know when their abilities have decreased to the point that they should no longer drive. Indeed, age is not as much of a factor as the person's abilities.

While there can be different reasons why an older driver causes an accident, such as decreased ability or simply making a mistake like any other driver, these reasons do not necessarily change the legal analysis of negligence and liability.

Injured parties will want to know if the motorist who struck them should not have been driving at the time of the accident because of decreased ability. This evidence could become important in the case to show that driver did not follow his or her duty of care, which leads to a finding of negligence.

Source: Baltimore Sun, "Mother of bicyclist killed in car accident helps education elderly drivers," Lorraine Mirabella, Aug. 9, 2015

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