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The cognitively impaired person is responsible for damages or the person who is their POA or conservator. The damages get paid from whatever income, asstes, or insurance the congitively impaired person has.
A person with dementia isn't let off the hook if they cause a car wreck. So if you're in charge of a cognitively impaired person (aka dementia) then you best take those keys away or disable the car they drive if you have to.
This is a serious matter and I will tell you something as a friend. Sometimes what the insurance offers an injured party isn't enough and they can go after assets like bank accounts, real estate, inheritances, have wages garnished, etc...
Believe me, it would make no difference to me whether the person that hit me was drunk, high, underage, or has dementia. If the insurance payment was not satisfactory to me as an injured party I would pursue you personally for damages.
Take her car keys away. It would be in everyone's best interests for you to.
Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to BurntCaregiver
NeedHelpWithMom Mar 20, 2023
So true! It’s not their fault for having dementia but it’s not your fault either and you should not have to pay out of your pocket for repairs! They should be held responsible if they caused any property damage.
Why do you care who is responsible for damages as they should never be in a position to have any damages in the first place! Your concern should be how do you avoid all damages. If you know that someone is impaired, and you aren't, take the appropriate action. No one should ever say that they are afraid to take action when they know someone is impaired because they are worried about the impact on the other persons feelings, freedom or any other nonsense. You would never say this to a drunk person so why does anyone accept it from someone who is suffering from age related decline?

Get them the help they need; it is not acceptable to put them and others at risk. If you ever have a question about liability, ask yourself, could you live knowing that you (or someone else) injured someone because you wanted to avoid any conflict?
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Reply to Mountaingyrl
OlieHanson Mar 21, 2023
Mountaingyrl, your thoughts are meaningful and passionate, but despite taking every precaution accidents do happen. You can take away the keys, remove dangerous things, and make every effort to create a safe and comfortable environment but that doesn't guarantee your loved one won't find or remember a second or third set of keys, or even a more dangerous item hidden away.

It's simply prudent to understand the extent of your liability as a caregiver and have a plan of action in case you get sued or arrested for the action of the person you're liable for. And it's best to make such plans when you're not under duress. Having such thoughts doesn't mean a person cares any less. Perhaps it means they care more.
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Wow guys. Some not very kind answers here.

I am am looking back on my dad’s situation with my own mother as she began to slip. He did not know what to do. He was a strong, old-school man. His kids—me included—did not understand what was happening to my mom, and our off-the-cuff attempts at “help” were, I understand now, pretty worthless. He was scared, trying to protect my mom and her dignity, and the help he did accept from doctors and home therapists went south fast (wrong diagnoses, theft, and generally making things worse than they already were).

If my dad had reached out to a forum like this and gotten the answers I am reading here he would have been gone in a heartbeat.

The tone of, “well if she is causing damage, you must be doing a bad job” is pretty out of touch and unrealistic. Guess what? Problems will happen with a spouse with dementia. When they do, we evaluate, make changes, and try again.

OP, I wish you well with your wife. Try to ignore the harsh posts—I just skip them—and listen to the many kind and wise voices here who have already walked the path you are on. Those are the ones with compassion. They have been an incalculable help to me.
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Reply to WearyJanie
JoAnn29 Mar 21, 2023
I do agree some posts maybe harsh, but the OP has not come back and explained what he is talking about so we then assume.
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I assume your are talking about your wife and she is still driving? Its up to you to make sure she isn't. If you have 2 cars and one is hers, get rid of it or hide it somewhere. Out of sight out of mind. You make sure the keys are not where she can get them. If she still has a licence you ask her doctor to contact the DMV and have it revoked, or you contact them, or have her retested.

If she somehow gets in an accident, ALZ or not she is liable for any damages. If the car is in ur name, you are liable.

I think caring for your wife is getting too much for you. May be time to place her. See an elder lawyer to see how your assets can be split. Her split going for her care and when almost gone, u apply for Medicaid.
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Reply to JoAnn29

"...if you own the car your parent was driving during the accident and it is registered in your name, it can get more complicated. Things get even trickier if you were aware of your parent’s driving abilities (or lack thereof) at the time the accident happened. The laws outlining a person’s liability in this situation vary by state, but most will hold you accountable to some level."


"Is a power of attorney responsible for car accident injuries? If you hold a valid power of attorney or have been appointed the legal guardian for a senior, you may have additional responsibilities as outlined in the document.

Being named agent under a power of attorney does not automatically create liability, but once you accept the responsibilities and begin acting as your elderly parent’s agent, you may assume certain liabilities if you are not careful."


It all differs by state and a PoA or guardian should consult with a certified elder law attorney for the state in which the PoA is active to get a better answer to this question.
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Reply to Geaton777
BurntCaregiver Mar 21, 2023
You are correct, Geaton. Having POA does not making the person with POA financially responsible to pay out any damages from their own income. They would be responsible for paying the damages out of the funds they manage for the person they are POA to.
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If this is your wife you are talking about, I would not take any chances. If the car is in your name you can be held liable. If she kills or badly injures someone, all bets are off - the injured party can always sue and whether or not you are found responsible, it will be an awful situation. Would you not feel guilty, even if you should win the court case? You know she is impaired; do NOT let her drive.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to iameli
BurntCaregiver Mar 20, 2023

You speak the truth, my friend. Dementia does not cancel out liability.
We had a Police Officer in town whose Mom had Dementia. He knew she should not be driving but could not get her declared incompetent at that time. He was told that she had to have an accident and cause of it be her Dementia before her license could be taken away.

If the doctors, who are mandated reporters, don't inform the *DMV and the DMV tests them saying they are OK, what can you do. You knowing that this person is not safe driving need to take action. Disable the car. Have it towed away and stored someplace. You just keep telling the person its in for repairs, repairs taking longer than usual, you called and left a message. You hide the keys.

*People in the early stages of Dementia can "showtime". Meaning they can fake it for a period of time. Anytime you want a Dementia person test, you take them as late as possible when "sundowning" is most likely to occur. Can't fake it then.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to JoAnn29

What kind of damages? If I understand below you are positing that someone, insured or not, goes out and causes a car wreck. That person is liable for injuries whether impaired or not. What OTHER matters the law wishes to pursue they will pursue.

In that particular case whomever is injured goes to the insurance company of the driver at fault just exactly as he or she would with an unimpaired driver.

That is to say if you are the injured party it is in the hands of their insurance. If they have none it is in the hands of YOUR insurance as the injured party with uninsured driver. You have the same rights you would have against a normal distracted driver who caused an accident, a drunk person who caused an accident, a mentally impaired person who caused an accident. That is to say if you are injured you can personally sue this person or his/her estate for injuries caused to yourself.

In general, if you are speaking of a tenant, that tenant is responsible for damages to a unit. Whether impaired or not. In the case of someone who is incompetent you should contact his or her POA. You can still sue him or her or their estate.

More information would surely get you better answers. If you have suffered personal or property damage do consider consulting an attorney.

If you are concerned with the punishment of an impaired driver? That is in the hands of the law system, Police, the DMV, etc.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to AlvaDeer

I asked an attorney this question. The impaired person is liable. Not the person with POA. However, anybody can sue anybody they want.
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Reply to Caregiverstress
Harrylcnm Mar 21, 2023
Best answer of all. Unless the person can be committed to access- controlled memory care they can always “escape” and do about anything they’re physically capable of..
You worry about liability. As you stated your wife is deteriorating rapidly. How about if she hurts herself badly and think of ramifications of taking care of her, physical injuries in addition to her progression of dementia.
Or worse what if she hurts or kills somebody?
I am just assuming you meant her driving and subsequent liability, which could be staggering.
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Reply to Evamar

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