Elderly Floridians And Personal Injury
U.S. Census data estimates that approximately 20 percent of all Floridians are over the age of 65, while only 16.5 percent of the United States in general have reached that mark. However, the share of personal injury cases that affects elderly people is routinely higher – elderly people are often more frail than those of younger age, and an injury that might only inconvenience a younger person can cause lasting damage to those over 65. There are certain unique issues that face many elderly plaintiffs if they are injured due to another person’s negligence, and it is crucial to find a personal injury attorney who understands those factors.
More Likely To Be Seriously Injured
Personal injury or tort law is the area of law for civil lawsuits based on someone’s alleged negligence. Cases involving auto accidents, medical malpractice, or wrongful death are among the most common types. Personal injury cases can be fairly straightforward – one must establish that the defendant breached the duty of reasonable care that they owed to the injured plaintiff, and that no other cause for the plaintiff’s injuries played a role – but they can also be quite complex, especially for injured plaintiffs over the age of 65.
While auto accident cases are the most common type of personal injury lawsuits, elderly plaintiffs are overrepresented in fall cases – falls are the leading cause of death and nonfatal injury in those over age 65. This is primarily due to the fact that as humans age, our bodies become more brittle and our reflexes slow. A fall is one of the most potentially traumatic accidents that a person can suffer, and a person whose reflexes might be more dull and bones might be more brittle may sustain more serious injuries than a person who may be able to avoid such a fate.
Issues Specific To Senior Plaintiffs
When a senior has been injured due to the negligence or recklessness of another person, they will seek to file suit in the same manner as anyone else. However, there are two factors that must be considered before going forward. One is what is known as the eggshell skull doctrine; this is a common-law theory that states that a defendant takes their plaintiff ‘as they find them’ – in other words, if a plaintiff is injured more severely than the average person would be, the defendant cannot claim that the victim’s frailty is some kind of defense; they may be held liable for the full extent of the plaintiff’s damages.
Another major factor that occurs disproportionately in cases involving those over the age of 65 is the issue of means-tested benefits. Many seniors, especially retired seniors, receive benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), housing assistance, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps), among others – these are means-tested, meaning that a recipient cannot have more than a certain amount of assets or they face financial penalties. There are options, but it is important to find an experienced attorney who understands that this issue must be addressed at some point during the legal process.
Call A Tampa Personal Injury Attorney
Elderly people who are injured due to another person’s negligence may face longer recovery periods than younger plaintiffs, but may also have unique issues that can prove problematic in seeking compensation for what they have been through. The Tampa personal injury attorneys at the Rinaldo Law Group are ready to assist plaintiffs over the age of 65 in navigating the legal process. Contact our offices today for a free consultation.