While typically associated with the use of alcohol, marijuana or prescription medication, impaired driving should also be associated with a preexisting medical condition—some suggest as much as 20%. For example, several conditions can effect a person’s body enough to make it unsafe for them to operate a motor vehicle. These include:
- Heart disease
- Seizure disorders
- Poor eyesight
While having one of these conditions will not mean that an individual cannot drive, it may mean that limitations and/or restrictions may be placed on their license. These limitations are based on the severity of their condition (impairment).
Who is at Fault in the Event of an Accident
Typically, it is easy to determine who is at fault during an accident: the driver who has had too many drinks or the person who rear-ends another driver. However, it is more complicated when someone simply does not see something due to poor eyesight and even more so if a driver has a seizure.
The problem is, there is hardly ever a one-fits-all answer. Each accident and each case can vary due to any number of factors (including intentionality of negligence, how much the medical condition impacted the crash, bodily and financial injuries, etc.)
Legal limitations for drivers’ impairments depend on the impairment, and if (as well as to what degree) it was a factor in the accident. In the case of mild to slight impairments (where the condition did not contribute to the accident) the preexisting medical condition might go undiscovered. Moreover, the ruling would be that it was not even be considered as contributing to the accident.
However, in the case of a severe impairment (i.e. epilepsy, other seizure disorders or uncontrolled diabetes) the illness can be considered a determining factor in the assessment of fault.
Further confusion results when the medical condition was previously unknown. For example, a person who is diagnosed with a seizure disorder knows they could have a seizure at any time. If they get behind the wheel anyway, they can be charged with criminal negligence in the event of a crash. However, someone who has never experienced a seizure before could fall under the “sudden emergency doctrine” exemption—which would make a ruling harder.
Being involved in a car accident is never a pleasant experience—especially if the accident is out of your control. Moreover, it is hard to know how to properly handle the legalities of how to be compensated if you are not at fault for the accident without the help of an attorney.
Check out our latest knowledge center article on pre-existing conditions and car accidents for more information.