How Car Modifications for People with Disabilities Makes Driving Safer
According to census.gov, there are an estimated 40 million people in the U.S. who have a disability. An additional 30 million have a functional limitation that makes daily life more difficult, including activities such as driving.
Can a disabled person get a driver’s license?
Yes, disabled people can get a driver’s license as long as they can pass the written and practical tests and make all appropriate special modifications to their vehicle. Disability vehicle modifications may include special steering wheel hand controls for steering and signaling, pedal extensions to help with braking, left-foot accelerators and adaptive ignition controls, raised roof or dropped floor, wheelchair lifts and ramps and many more. The downside is that these modifications can be expensive and they are not an option for every vehicle.
This chart from thesimpledollar.com shows the average costs of some common types of disability vehicle modifications:
Types of modifications and average cost
|Car Modifications||Average Cost|
Look for a qualified driver rehabilitation specialist who can assess your needs through these resources:
- Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists
- American Occupational Therapy Association
- A state or local rehabilitation services office
Note that these assessments cost money but you may be able to cover some or all of the cost through your health insurance or workers’ compensation insurance or with the help of vocational rehabilitation agencies.
Once your assessment is complete, look for a certified shop to help with vehicle modifications. There are several ways that people with a disability can get help paying for necessary vehicle modifications, including:
- If you work with an auto dealer who is part of the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA), you may be able to get a vehicle manufacturer rebate that will help cover the cost of modifications.
- If your disability was caused by a car accident, an auto insurance policy may pay for your adaptive equipment. You may need to hire a car accident attorney to ensure that your settlement provides compensation for necessary modifications to your vehicle and other expenses related to your new disability.
- If your disability was caused by a work-related injury, worker’s compensation insurance policies should cover adaptive equipment.
- In some cases, Medicare will cover the cost of this equipment. Call 1-800-MEDICARE to find out if you are eligible.
- You may qualify for grants through vocational rehabilitation services, disability services or aging services. Click here for a list of organizations who may be able to help with grants in Washington State: https://www.thesimpledollar.com/insurance/auto/states-guide-to-car-modifications-for-people-with-disabilities/#washington
- Tax deductions. Speak to a tax consultant.
- Sales tax waivers are available in many states. There is a sales tax exemption to RCW 82.08.875 for prescribed add-on automotive adaptive equipment in Washington State.
Seek the help of a car accident attorney
If you or a loved one was injured or became disabled because of the negligence of another, contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal rights. Let an experienced car accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times larger with the help of a lawyer. Call the personal injury lawyers at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!