While we may not think about it much after being behind the wheel for years, driving is one of the most complex activities that a person will regularly engage in. You have to wield a broad range of cognitive abilities that are required to make rapid judgment on distances, speed, traffic signs and dynamic situations on the road. When driving over long distances, you have to be highly alert for extended periods.
This is why medical impairment is such an important subject when it comes to road use. Drivers suffering from debilitating health conditions can trigger car accidents that cause serious injury to not only themselves but also persons in the vicinity. There is a risk of substantial property damage if the driver crashes into a building or vehicle.
The following are some medical conditions that are a significant risk factor in vehicle collisions.
This includes conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease. Dementia affects the person’s memory and leads to forgetfulness and confusion. A driver with dementia has less than optimal navigation skills and may get disoriented thus causing a car accident. Many persons with Alzheimer’s are usually unable to drive two years after the diagnosis. With the number of elderly drivers in Florida expected to continue rising in the coming years, dementia will remain a major factor in the state’s car accident statistics.
Awareness of Parkinson’s Disease increased dramatically when legendary boxer Muhammad Ali was diagnosed with it. It causes the person’s limbs to shake uncontrollably therefore affecting body movement, coordination and balance. The individual’s vision may also be impaired. Certain Parkinson’s medications may trigger blurry vision, sleepiness, confusion and dizziness. A driver with Parkinson’s Disease might not be able to respond fast enough when they encounter a dangerous situation on the road.
Diabetes can cause a driver’s blood sugar to fluctuate significantly outside normal bands. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) may lead to dizziness, confusion, drowsiness, impaired vision and lack of feeling in the feet. All of these would make the driver a hazard on the road. In severe cases, the person may experience a seizure and unconsciousness thus losing all control of the car. Studies have shown that diabetics are between 12 and 19 percent more likely to experience car accidents when compared to the average driver.
The onset of a stroke may be gradual or abrupt. It causes muscle paralysis or weakness that makes it difficult or impossible for the person to control their body. When a driver suffers from a stroke, they are not only physically incapacitated but may also be unable to process the complex, multifaceted decisions necessary to operate the vehicle in emergency situations.
Like strokes, the onset of seizures may be without warning. The driver might experience uncontrollable shaking and convulsions eventually losing consciousness.
Driving is a treasured right in Florida so limiting a person’s road rights should only happen after careful consideration. Once a person’s medical condition has been diagnosed, their doctor will usually determine whether they are fit to continue driving. The doctor may give a go ahead as long as the condition is properly managed e.g regular insulin shots for a diabetic. This would allow the person to drive just as any ordinary person would.
Accidents due to medical conditions often occur because the condition had not previously been diagnosed, is not being properly managed or the person is driving despite being prohibited from doing so. A driver with a medical impaired driving may be liable if they caused an accident despite knowing that they are either not allowed or not competent enough to drive safely. Similarly, drivers under medication that can impair their ability to use the road safely may be held responsible if an accident happened as a result.
If you have been involved in a car accident with someone whose ability to drive is likely impaired by a health condition, it is vital that you pursue compensation for personal injury or property damage. At Fetterman & Associates, our team of experienced West Palm Beach car accident attorneys have worked with a wide range of clients on claims around driver impairment. Get in touch with us for a free consultation to determine how best to proceed with your claim.
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