If I suspect my mother should not be driving due to onset of dementia, can I be sued if she causes an accident since I know of the issue?

UPDATED: Aug 8, 2012

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If I suspect my mother should not be driving due to onset of dementia, can I be sued if she causes an accident since I know of the issue?

My 80 year old mother lives 350 miles away and is starting to show signs of dementia. She still drives some but constantly gets lost. She has had a few scrapes with the car (poles, signs, etc.). Her doctor said she is getting dementia but did not tell her she can’t drive. Because I am aware of the situation, can I be liable/sued if she does cause an accident and hurt someone? Not sure what I could do.

Asked on August 8, 2012 under Accident Law, Maryland


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

As long as you are not your mother's legal guardian and she is not declared incompetent to manage her own affairs, you are not liable for her actions--legally, anyway; it's possible that you or others would consider you morally responsible, but legally, one adult is not responsible for the actions of another adult except in exceptional cases (for example, in some states, a social host could be responsible for serving drinks to an already-drunk guest, who then gets in a DUI accident).

If your mother does become incompetent and you become her guardian, then you could be liable.

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