07 Oct Elderly Driver, Amendments, Cardinals
Welcome to the Newsletter
Rana Law Group Newsletter
In this issue:
- Potential Liability Involving Elderly Drivers
- Missouri Amendments on the November 3rd Ballot
- Cardinals Season – Final Thoughts
Potential Liability Involving Elderly Drivers
There was a recent news story about an elderly man who drove into a Starbucks when his foot slipped off the brake onto the accelerator, killing one woman and injuring two others. This was a terrible tragedy and our thoughts are with the family of the woman who died. Since many of us know elderly drivers (including me, I have a 79-year-old father), this story can hit particularly close to home so I wanted to address the potential legal liability which may arise in this type of situation.
Here, this may well have been an accident and this man’s foot slipped off the brake and onto the accelerator. In that situation, this man’s automobile insurance coverage will cover a portion of the damages and it is unlikely any criminal charges would be brought absent more information. I say “a portion” because it is unlikely this man’s auto insurance will have enough insurance coverage to properly cover the damages for the woman’s estate, however, insurance will cover the crash and, in most cases, that will be the end of it.
Where things can get more involved is if the injured party’s family wants something more, whether it be to remove a potentially unsafe driver from the roads or feels that the money obtained was insufficient to cover all their losses. After all, not only is this a loss of a loved one, but it could have been the loss of a means of financial support (think minor children who survive when the parents do not).
Here, other factors will be reviewed and the question of whether the elderly person should have been driving in the first place will be explored. With some elderly drivers, age related decline (cognitive, as well as changes in hearing, vision, reflexes and reaction time) may make them more prone to automobile crashes and, if this is a situation where the elderly driver should not have been driving, there may be other potential legally liable parties. For instance, if the person lives with someone else and was borrowing that person’s vehicle (whether it be a child, a neighbor or friend), that person could potentially be liable for negligently entrusting the vehicle to the man, especially if that person knew the man was not fit to drive by way of cognitive decline or because of medications with potential side effects that impair driving. Another example is if there is a fiduciary relationship (such as a power of attorney) which can impart liability. If the person knew but still allowed that person to continue driving without acting appropriately, that person could be responsible. Lastly, was the elderly person driving for an employer? If this was an Uber or delivery situation, the employer would likely also be involved.
Oftentimes, it is tough to take away the car keys from elderly relatives, both because the relative wants to keep their independence and because the burden on the caretaking relative can increase substantially with the need to transport the relative. However, it is important to ensure the elderly relative remains fit to drive to minimize injuries and potential exposure for liability. Methods include making sure the elderly relative has their own auto insurance and own vehicle, is current on vision prescriptions and by reviewing all medications to see if they impact driving. Power of attorney documents should also be carefully drafted to minimize potential exposure for the acts of the elderly person. For other tips and advice on dealing with this sensitive topic, please reach out to us directly.
This year, Missourians will have two constitutional amendments on the ballot for the November 3, 2020 election. I breakdown the good and bad below. Happy voting!
- Voting yes will change the Missouri Constitution to eliminate the nonpartisan state demographer and replace it with a governor appointed bipartisan commission. It will also change the criteria for drawing district maps and change the lobbying gifts and lower the state campaign contribution limits.
- Voting no will maintain the current legislation, voted in place by Missourians in 2018, which dictates the use of a nonpartisan state demographer for legislative redistricting and keeps the current criteria for legislative districts and current campaign finance and lobbying limits.
On first blush, this amendment seems great – ban gifts from lobbyists and reduce legislative campaign contributions. When digging in further, however, several red flags appear. The lobbyist gifts only get reduced by $5 – from $5 to $0 and the campaign contribution limits only get reduced by $100, from $2,500 to $2,400. So, no real substantive changes. What do we give up in exchange for these modest decreases? It turns out, quite a lot. Missouri voters overwhelmingly approved the nonpartisan redistricting plan back in 2018. The legislators did not like what we chose and are trying a different and misleading attempt to overturn the will of the voters. This can have very dangerous consequences. We vote in our elected officials to represent us and, when we speak, we certainly expect our elected officials to listen to their constituents. The proponents for this Amendment can be found here. There are many opponents of this Amendment who say (correctly) this is just gerrymandering. You do not go from nonpartisan to bipartisan without leaving room for partisanship. The summary language was taken to court because of its extremely misleading nature. The trial court judge agreed it was misleading, but an appellate court allowed it to stand.
This has to do with whether to put term limits to other executive offices in Missouri. Currently, the Governor and Treasurer are limited to two terms. This would extend to the Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, Auditor and the Attorney General. There does not appear to be strong support or opposition one way or the other on this issue, other than the senator who proposed the amendment and another senator in opposition. Personally, I like term limits for politicians because it infuses fresh ideas and avoids someone staying in office too long as a career politician (see generally the dysfunction in Washington, D.C.).
Full text: Do you want to amend the Missouri Constitution to extend the two term restriction that currently applies to the Governor and Treasurer to the Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, Auditor and the Attorney General? State and local governmental entities estimate no costs or savings from this proposal.
Voting Information Generally
Cardinals Season – Final Thoughts
This weekend, the Cardinals were officially eliminated from the playoffs. In this tumultuous 2020 year, how did it hit me? Many of you may be surprised to find that I spent very little time watching baseball this year, including in the playoffs. In years past, I would have been obsessively tracking everything Cardinals related and watching every playoff game on the edge of my seat. Between everything going on in 2020, as well as the shortened baseball season, I just could not get into it. The passing of Bob Gibson and Lou Brock further put a damper on the season. Like many others, I am ready to turn the page on not only the 2020 baseball season but 2020 in general. I hope everyone stays safe as we ride out the last few months of his crazy year.