An auto mechanic working under a vehicle on a car lift suffered life-threatening injuries when a confused elderly driver crashed into him. The accident at the Newport News, Virginia (VA), Firestone in the Hidenwood Shopping Center occurred on the afternoon of September 11, 2016.
A police report released to reporters indicates that the 80-year-old driver who struck the mechanic mistook her car's gas pedal for the brake. That error propelled her car into the service bay where the injured victim was working. Ruling the incident an accident, police do not intend to file charges.
Becoming confused and temporarily losing control of one's car is not always a ticketable offense. Still, any driver who negligently causes a crash and inflicts injuries can be held liable for settling insurance claims and paying other kinds of damages to victims. Even when a driver experiences a medical emergency, he or she can be found negligent for driving while incapacitated and made to pay compensation.
This Newport News wreck also raises the uncomfortable, but essential, question of when driving becomes unsafe for older people. While age itself does not automatically make operating a car dangerous, vision, reaction time and decision making ability can all decline as people grow older. Recognizing this, Virginia requires residents who are 75 or older to renew their driver's license in person at a DMV office. Submitting medical reports and passing road tests can also be required for older drivers in Virginia.
Evidence that the woman who injured the Firestone employee bypassed such safety checks could show her negligence or recklessness. Consulting with an experienced Virginia personal injury lawyer would help the victim uncover such facts.