According to the Tampa Bay Times (April 12, 2013), an 84-year-old St. Petersburg woman was taken to a hospital Friday morning after her car overturned in an accident:

“Helen Bohman was driving east on Fifth Avenue N when her Toyota and a Jeep Cherokee collided, St. Petersburg police spokesman Mike Puetz said. The Jeep was going north near the Interstate 275 overpass just before 8 a.m. The driver, Glenda Rice, a 54-year-old Treasure Island resident, declined to be taken to the hospital by emergency officials. Bohman was taken to Bayfront Medical Center with possible injuries, Puetz said.”

Elder clients, like the 84-year old woman, in the St. Petersburg accident, add additional concerns and issues to any personal injury claims. The first set of concerns goes to how elder claimants or defendants affect liability issues. The second set of concerns goes to what types of damage issues there are. A third set goes to additional issues.

Liability issues

  • Ability of the elder person to testify. A real concern with elder patients is that they may die before the case gets to trial. Another concern, in an era when many elderly are suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s, is the ability of the elder party to cognitively understand the issues. One remedy that many lawyers use is to take a video deposition of the claimant as early as possible. Florida and many states allow video depositions to be used in court when the claimant has passed away or is no longer competent.
  • Tougher to prove liability. Many elder claimants were receiving medical care and are on medications prior to the accident. Separating the wheat (the part of the claim that relates to the accident) from the chaff (medical conditions that pre-dated the accident or weren’t caused by the accident) becomes difficult. It often requires working closely with the medical experts.

Damage Issues

Reasons why the damages, for elder patients, may be lower:

  • They have a shorter life expectancy.
  • There’s no loss of earnings because they’re retired.
  • The spouse of the elder claimant may already be deceased so there is no claim for loss of consortium/companionship by the spouse.

Reasons why the damages, for elder patients, may be higher:

  • More medical care is needed because elder patients need more time to recover.
  • Minor medical problems may have severe consequences requiring more medical care.
  • Many elder spouses help each other emotionally and physically. The spouse of the elder may have a higher loss of consortium claim because he/she can’t rely on the elder victim any more.
  • Family and friends may be deceased or may have moved requiring the elder victim to pay for more help
  • Injuries to elder claimants can directly impact their independence. For elder claimants medical problems (fractures, cardiac problems, diabetes) can rob the elder person of her/his independence (driving, vacationing, enjoying retirement, living alone). This loss of independence and of dignity is part of the damage claim.

Additional issues

  • There may be Medicare Liens that have to be paid before the elder claimant gets her/his share.
  • Taking care of an elder claimant may require the elder claimant to change his/her will because the claimant has less money because of increased medical bills.
  • Taking care of an elder claimant may require the spouse of the elder claimant to change his/her will – in order to make sure the elder claimant’s medical needs are met.
  • Nursing home cases. Florida has laws which regulate the care of the elderly in nursing homes. Any case involving an elderly claimant who was injured because of poor nursing home care requires a full understanding of these nursing home laws.

How our law firm can help?

If anyone you know is a victim of an accident involving an elder claimant please let our law firm help you get the recovery you deserve. During this difficult time we will help you receive the maximum compensation allowed by law and we will assist you through every step of the case. Our team of lawyers works with medical professionals, valuation experts, technical experts and other lawyers. If you or a loved one suffered an injury or a death please call us at 1-888-WE-MEAN-IT (1-888-936-3264) or email us at: [email protected].

Steve was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. As was the practice for new doctors his father worked day and night during his medical residency at Charity Hospital there. Steve comes from a long line of doctors. His father, his grandfather, his great grandfather, even two uncles were all specialists and/or surgeons in their chosen medical specialties, including internal medicine specialist, obstetrics / gynecology, neurosurgery and general practice / surgery. His great-great grandfather was the Surgeon General of Ohio during the Civil War.