Q: Should an older person receive less money in a car accident settlement?
It’s positively amazing that this question needs to be asked in this day and age. How is it even possible that insurance companies actually believe that irrelevant factors such as age should have any bearing on a person’s rights after suffering a catastrophic injury?
Unfortunately, this type of biased thinking is a staple in the insurance handbook. After all, adjusters will use any underhanded tactic to preserve their bottom line.
Two of the most popular justifications insurance companies use to reduce payouts to elderly car crash victims are:
- Decreased income eligibility. Older accident victims lack strong ties to the labor force, and many may be retired already. As a result, they don’t need the same amount of income compensation as a younger accident victim.
- Decreased life’s worth. Senior victims are already nearing the end of their lives—and the time they do have left does not hold the same value as a younger victim’s quality of life, due to the infirmity and pains of old age. Consequently, a traffic collision that shortens or ends THIS life early isn’t worth a huge settlement.
Our response to these insulting and ridiculous arguments? Raising these issues is not only offensive but also unjust.
Your Rights Are Constant, Regardless of Your Age
All victims of car accidents have a right to compensation based on the amount of liability they share for the accident. In Texas, car accident liability and compensation is based on comparative negligence laws. Therefore, elderly drivers, as long as they can prove that they were less than 51% at fault for the accident, are guaranteed the right to file an injury claim and receive compensation from other liable parties—no matter their age, financial status, or expected quality of life.
At all ages, drivers must be aware of their medical limitations and acknowledge when their abilities are no longer strong enough to continue driving. However, this doesn’t mean they deserve any less respect, less sympathy, or fewer rights than drivers who are younger and healthier. In fact, it can be argued that regardless of fault, older drivers should deserve more sympathy as injuries sustained by the elderly can be much more serious than those sustained by younger drivers.
Increased Injury Risk and Increased Sympathy
In addition to an increase in injury susceptibility, elderly victims are also much slower to recover from their injuries and more likely to experience permanent damage. As a result, the treatment and recovery expenses for older accident patients are disproportionately higher than younger victims—who tend to recover faster.
In addition to increased medical expenses, older drivers whose health insurance is provided by Medicare often find that Medicare expects to collect a portion (sometimes a large one) from any injury award or settlement. Therefore, these victims are at a financial disadvantage before even discussing a settlement amount, since they must automatically subtract Medicare costs off the top.
Now that you know the horrors and obstacles that older accident victims must endure, do you think insurance companies are justified in urging that age should determine a settlement amount?
Beating Insurance Companies at Their Own Game
Ignoring the fact that you faithfully pay your insurance premiums every month and that you should be able to trust your insurance to work for you, the long and short of it is that insurance companies are out to make money, not friends. Consequently, adjusters are trained to manipulate clients and create loopholes in claims. In fact, these same people you pay to take care of you are encouraged by their employers to take advantage of you by offering the lowest possible settlements for your injuries. At the law firm of Steve Lee, P.C., we believe you often deserve better than what your insurance is willing to give.
Even though insurance companies have spent years perfecting their game, with the help of an experienced injury attorney, you can fight back. Contact our office today to schedule a FREE consultation to discuss your accident, your claim, and your options. Remember, no matter how much you need them to sympathetic, insurance companies do not like to pay claims. For help getting the proper treatment you and your injuries need, call Steve Lee.