According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), about 3.4 million Americans suffer from active epilepsy. Also known as “seizure disorder”, epilepsy can impair normal brain activity. Seizures can last from a few seconds to a few minutes and cause a loss of sensation, loss of control over the body, or a complete blackout. Having a seizure while driving may lead to loss of control over the car and result in an accident. Unlike other vehicle accidents where the liability can be attributed to the driver at fault, determining liability in an accident caused by a medical condition can be a challenging and legally complicated situation. If you suffered injuries in an accident involving seizures, learn how a Tennessee seizure related driving accident attorney at Labrum Law Firm at (615) 338-9500 can help you with your case.
Seizures and the Impact on Driving
As per the CDC, seizures cause a short change in the brain's normal functioning. While the effects of a seizure on the driver may differ, in general, a person having a seizure may look confused, or have a staring spell. Seizures may impact the person's ability to focus and can cause the person to shake, fall, or become unaware of what is going around them. Sometimes, it may be hard to recognize that a person is having a seizure. In other cases, it may lead to cognitive impairment, temporary memory loss or temporary paralysis.
Driving is a complex activity and requires undivided attention. Having a seizure while driving may seriously impair the driver's ability to focus on the road and cause a total loss of control. While many people are able to return to driving once their seizures are under control and after the lapse of a certain period of time, their return usually depends upon:
- The cause of the seizure
- The type of the seizure the driver typically undergoes
- Applicable state laws
- How long the driver has been free of seizures that impact his or her awareness.
Proving Fault in Seizure Related Driving Accidents
It is easier to prove fault in vehicle accidents where the driving ability of a person is impaired due to conditions such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. However, when the
driving ability is impaired due to medical condition, the person who suffered the medical condition and caused the accident may or may not be liable for the accident.
At Fault Laws in the State of Tennessee
In Tennessee, auto accidents are governed by the ‘at-fault' principle. This implies that the victim may be able to recover damages only if it can be proved that the other driver was at fault for causing the collision. While the issue of fault determination varies from case to case, the following factors are generally considered in seizure related driving accidents:
- The extent of the role of the seizure in causing the accident.
- History of driver's seizures.
- Whether the driver was aware about his medical condition.
- Whether the loss of consciousness was sudden or gradual.
- Whether the driver was neglectful in choosing to drive even after being aware of his medical condition.
Knowing of a Medical Condition Prior to an Accident
If a person is aware of his or her medical condition and knows that he or she could undergo a seizure at any time and still chooses to drive and causes an accident, then the person may be charged for criminal negligence. However, in accidents where the driver has no history of seizures or has a green signal from the doctors to continue driving and does not reasonably expect a seizure to occur, it may be difficult to hold the driver responsible for causing the accident.
Proving responsibility or fault in seizure related driving accidents is a complex and tricky legal challenge. The victim needs to compile significant evidence to show that the other driver was at fault and negligently caused the accident. Learn how a Tennessee driving accident attorney experienced in evaluating seizure related car accidents at Labrum Law Firm can help you understand your legal rights.
Seizures and Driving License Laws in Tennessee
In the state of Tennessee, a person must have had no seizures for at least one year and a doctor's recommendation indicating it is safe for them to drive before they can legally apply for a driver's license. A person that has had controlled seizures for a minimum of six months may have their driving privileges restored based on a positive review from the Medical Review Board as well as the person's physician. A person may become eligible for a commercial driving license if he or she has been free from any type of seizure for a period of one year and has a positive recommendation from the physician. The period may be reduced to six months if a favorable recommendation is received from the Medical Review Board as well as the individual's physician.
In the state of Tennessee, there is no mandatory requirement for doctors to report patients with epilepsy or seizure related disorders to any state agency. For doctors who choose to do so, there is no immunity for reporting their patients.
Steps To Take After a Seizure Related Driving Accident
Consider taking these steps after a seizure related driving accident:
- Immediately seek medical attention. Sometimes, symptoms of internal bodily injuries may not show up for days and therefore, visiting a doctor is a wise option.
- Report the accident to the police.
- Take note of all the details of the accident including the date, place and cause of the accident. Most importantly, try to get the contact details of the other driver who caused the accident or note down the vehicle number.
- If there were witnesses around the accident spot, try to get their contact information.
- Consider contacting a seizure related driving accident attorney.
Learn How a Tennessee Seizure Related Driving Accident Attorney Can Help
Proving fault in a seizure related driving accident is legally challenging and oftentimes difficult. In addition to proving negligent driving, the victim is also required to prove that the driver was negligent in getting behind the wheel in the first place due to their propensity to have a seizure. Supporting evidence such as the driver's medical records, license validity, and doctor's recommendations are required to proceed with the claim. If you suffered injuries in a driving accident involving seizures, consider contacting our legal team at Labrum Law Firm at (615) 338-9500 to learn how a Tennessee seizure related driving accident attorney can help you with your case.