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Elderly woman involved in fatal crash, doctor is sued

A fatal California car crash that occurred in 2010 involved an 85-year old driver with dementia that accidentally steered her car into oncoming traffic and killed another individual. However, the court case taking place in Santa Ana does not involve the 85-year old woman. Instead, the defendant in the courtroom is the woman's physician.

Relatives of the deceased man killed in the crash are suing the doctor for wrongful death in not initiating a process to have the elderly woman's driver's license removed. It is asserted that the doctor, having treated the woman for two years, understood her medical condition, but this doctor failed to take any action to prevent her from continuing to drive and injuring others.

This will likely be a continuing problem in the coming years with a greater percentage of the population being over the age of 65. Though we wish to avoid taking steps that will limit the mobility of elderly individuals, there does come a time when it simply is unsafe for older individuals to continue operating motor vehicles. Probably more than anyone, doctors would be the individuals that can make a determination whether it is safe for such people to continue to drive.

We have seen in recent years how lawsuits have become continually unique. Lawyers are coming up with more novel legal theories because modern circumstances are becoming more complex. This will require better and more experienced attorneys to handle such suits.

A case like the one mentioned above is hardly frivolous. It deals with circumstances that will likely reoccur involving other elderly people unless some form of action is taken.

Source: Morris Daily Herald, "Doctor sued over fatal crash by patient with dementia," by Jessica Garrison and Alan Zarembo, September 6, 2012

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