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The Correlations Between Seizures and Car Accidents

Seizures And Car AccidentsDriving is an essential part of daily life for most Americans. We drive for pleasure, drive to get to work, and drive to see our families and loved ones. Driving is a complex undertaking related to multiple mental and physical acts, which can be reduced or changed by the driver's health. We have striven to make the road safe for people and their loved ones, yet serious injury accidents still happen daily. By analyzing what has caused auto accidents, the inherent risks from driving can be reduced.

Health Conditions That Can Cause Injury Accidents

Ample research has been done on the role of health conditions in causing motor vehicle accidents that cause injury, and the studies have found correlations between health conditions and the causation of serious motor vehicle accidents. Health conditions that give rise to seizures have been singled out as one of the leading health conditions that can result in a motor vehicle accident with serious injuries. A seizure is unregulated neuron activity in the brain that can cause a physical manifestation of spasms or convulsions, thinking disruptions, or a mixture of physical and mental indications. The symptoms depend on where the irregular activity happens in the head, what the activity was caused by, and the health of the affected individual.

The following is a list of the known causes of seizures:

  • Aberrant concentrations of sodium or glucose
  • Infections
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Birth defects
  • Cancer
  • Substance abuse
  • Electrical current
  • Epilepsy
Driving with a Health Condition

Current laws concerning driving with a health condition that can cause seizures are typically based on a balancing of traffic safety while still providing realistic prospects for individuals with restricted seizures to operate motor vehicles. Every state in the US will issue driver's licenses to certain citizens with seizures, but the standards and rules vary markedly. California requires medical doctors to notify the Department of Health, which reports it to the Department of Motor Vehicles of any seizures or loss of consciousness. The DMV will then notify the licensed individual of their intent to suspend the driving license. There is not a mandatory amount of time that a person must have been seizure-free before they can be issued a driver's license. The revocation of a driver's license will be based upon factors laid out in the pertinent vehicle code. According to the relevant portions of CA Vehicle Code 12806c, any person who has lost awareness of their surroundings, either a lapse of consciousness or a period of misperception caused by any condition within the last three years which may bring about recurrent lapses, can lose their drivers' license.

The DMV considers the following factors when evaluating a driver with a seizure disorder:

  • Length of time without a seizure
  • Type and frequency of seizures
  • If the seizures come without warning
  • Conformity with prescribed medication
  • Type of employment
  • Driving history

Someone whose seizures are unable to be regulated may get their driver's license revoked. Loss of driving license can have a significant impact on someone that has seizures, but it is necessary to ensure that the roadways are safe for everyone on them. If someone is driving a motor vehicle with a known seizure disorder, it is dangerous for everyone on the road.  Loss of consciousness or a seizure can and does result in loss of control of the motor vehicle, which is a danger to the public that shares the roadways. It is more likely to cause accidents with major injuries than accidents that were not caused by seizures. If a person knows that they are likely to have a seizure, they should not drive a vehicle. Even with the "smart" cars available today that have an autopilot or semi-automatic driving, all the risk from a seizure and /or loss of consciousness cannot be eliminated.

Seizure-related Crashes

When a person knows that a seizure may cause a car accident, they may be legally liable to victims if they cause an accident. Most of the injuries resulting from seizure-related crashes were more severe than injuries resulting from non-seizure related crashes.  Accidents involving drivers with seizures are typically described as the vehicle going "out of control" or just "going straight" despite road conditions before the motor vehicle accident. To an untrained eye and even the trained responding law enforcement officers, motor vehicle accidents that were caused by a seizure might be miscategorized. Even if the hallmarks for a seizure caused motor vehicle accidents are readily apparent, proper investigation is critical to ensure that any injured parties are adequately compensated for their injuries. An experienced lawyer who has litigated seizure cases know what characteristics of the motor vehicle accident to look for to properly attribute the causation of the motor vehicle accident to a seizure or a loss of consciousness and obtain justice for those who were injured.

Liability Could Fall on the Doctor

Liability for a seizure-related accident is not just limited to the driver of the vehicle but can extend to a medical provider such as a doctor. A doctor is liable for negligence to their patients. This duty of care is based upon the physician-patient relationship. Nonetheless, in some situations, the duty can comprise of others who were injured by their patient through the doctor’s negligent treatment of the patient or even failure to fulfill the obligation to report their patient’s health conditions that may pose a risk to others.

The scenario in which a doctor could be liable to a third party, someone other than his patient, might arise in the context of seizure-cause motor vehicle accidents in many ways. For example, the doctor may have failed to properly diagnose that their patient was susceptible to seizures and was still driving. Another situation where liability could fall on the doctor is when the doctor was under an affirmative duty to report a seizure-related condition to a licensing agency, such as the DMV, but negligently failed to report the health condition and the person later went on to have a seizure-caused accident and injured a third party. Injured motorists have brought successful litigation against doctors for failing to warn patients that certain medications can adversely affect their driving ability.

Liability Could Fall on the Employer

Similarly, an employer can be found liable for the injuries that a third party sustained from an employee whose seizure caused an accident. If the employer knew or should have known that an employee had a health condition that could cause a seizure that could occur why the employee was driving, then that employer could be found liable for the injuries caused by the employee. Further, if the accident occurred in the scope and duty of employment of the employer, then that employer could be liable for compensating parties injured in a seizure-related accident. The scope of employment has been found to encompass further than just activities while working.

Seeking the Help of an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer

In a seizure caused by a car accident, an injured party must seek medical diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible. If you have been injured in an accident that you suspect was caused by a seizure, it is essential to seek the help of an experienced and knowledgeable injury lawyer. Attorneys for the victims of the car accident may be able to obtain medical records to prove that the driver had prior knowledge of a seizure disorder or that an employer had prior knowledge of the predisposition for seizures. If a seizure occurs and the driver had no previous knowledge of any medical condition that could cause a car accident, the driver may not be found liable to compensate the injured parties in the motor vehicle accident. In that case, the injured party may have to pay for their own medical bills and even lost wages.  However, with the help of an experienced attorney, liability can be accurately placed on the cause of the accident.  Your attorney can navigate the collection of medical information and records that can prove the actual cause of the accident in ways that the average person would have no knowledge of or the ability to do.  Let the experts help you get the compensation you deserve.

Sacramento Car Accident Lawyer

I'm Ed Smith, a car accident lawyer in Sacramento. Injuries resulting from seizure-related crashes can lead to lifelong complications. If you have been hurt in an accident caused by someone with a known seizure disorder, call me today at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly advice.

We are members of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and the National Association of Distinguished Counsel.

See our client reviews on Avvo, Google, and Yelp, and our past cases on our Verdicts and Settlements page.

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