Each year, hundreds of thousands of car accidents take place in this country, and despite our best efforts to raise awareness about safe driving practices, they keep happening. One of the reasons why—in addition to factors like hazardous road conditions, weather, and drunk driving—is preexisting medical conditions.
Driving under the influence of alcohol, marijuana or prescription drugs tend to be what most people think of as “impaired driving.” However, alcohol and drugs aren’t the only things that can have negative consequences on driving. Preexisting medical conditions can also affect a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely.
Common examples of medical conditions that can impair a person’s skill and judgment when behind the wheel include:
- Diabetes (when blood sugar is too high or low)
- Heart disease (when symptoms like fatigue, shortness of breath, and weakness are common and can increase the risk of losing consciousness)
- Seizure disorders
- Poor eyesight
Legal Limitations on Driver Impairments
Sometimes, a person with a medical condition may have limitations or restrictions placed on their license based on the severity of their impairment and at the recommendation of their healthcare professional.
For instance, people diagnosed with epilepsy are often restricted from driving after dark, when the glare from headlights can increase their risk of having an episode. Other restrictions may ban individuals from driving on busy interstates or driving in certain areas.
Most states also now conduct an eye examination as part of the license application process in order to ensure that the applicant can see well enough to distinguish other vehicles and read road signs like speed limits. Colorado DMV requires all drivers to pass a vision test before obtaining or renewing their license (eyeglasses are permitted), and offers restricted licenses per doctor’s recommendation.
Who’s At Fault?
A frequent question we get at our Denver law office is about who should be held liable when a driver’s preexisting medical condition results in a car accident with one or more other vehicles.
When someone gets behind the wheel and drives after having one too many drinks, the fault clearly lies with the individual who made a conscious (…albeit inebriated) decision to put others at risk.
But what about, say, bad eyesight, or a seizure?
Both of these can sometimes be just as, if not more dangerous than alcohol and drugs when it comes to operating a vehicle safely, but are these drivers held just as liable as a drunk or driver?
As with most things in the legal system, there is no one-fits-all answer to this question. Each case can vary based on a number a factors, such as intentionality of negligence, the degree to which the medical condition caused the crash, the bodily and financial injuries suffered by the other people involved, and more.
If you are seriously injured by driver with a preexisting medical condition, contact Colorado car accident attorney R. Mack Babcock about your legal rights immediately. Visit our main site to learn how representation works, or check out our car accident guides and resources today!