When does a medical condition excuse the driver who causes a car accident?

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You can ask this question about the driver’s medical condition in two ways. When does it excuse negligence and when doesn’t it? An unexpected and unpredictable medical condition that interferes with a driver’s ability to see, hear or be conscious is a legal excuse, excusing the driver’s negligence. Medicine is complicated. And, we need to know a lot of facts because we can make any conclusions. But not all medical conditions meet the standard. Let’s look at today’s accident, but know we are not going to arrive at a conclusion because we can’t know enough without viewing medical records, history and a lot more information. Nevertheless, the exercise is an important one.

Fremont County, Iowa – This is a one-vehicle accident involving an 85-year-old man from Jefferson, Iowa. (Myron L. Brown) He’s driving his 2004 Buick LeSabre on Highway 30 approaching Highway 4, when he experiences what is described as a “medical condition”. According to the Trooper’s preliminary accident report, this caused him to black-out, which allowed his Buick to keep going through the intersection without stopping; luckily he didn’t hit anyone, but then his car drove off into the ditch striking a grassy mound, flipping and then going airborne again flipping end-over-end. It came to rest on its wheels and how he wasn’t killed is beyond my comprehension, but he wasn’t. Perhaps it was his lucky day. Nevertheless, they took him to Green County Medical Center via the Greene Ambulance. Fremont County Sheriff

If I want to understand what caused this one I would ask first, about what medications he was taking and second about his current medical condition he is being treated. We’d want to evaluate the PDR warnings about side effects of all drugs he’s on and then evaluate the synergistic effects of combining the one’s he’s taking. But, when it involves drugs there is another possibility, is he taking his medications as recommended? Is he confusing what he is supposed to take and when he’s supposed to take it? Is he taking the medications according to the directions?

And then the last idea for causation would be to evaluate the car, although in this case the gentleman admitted to the officer that he simply passed out and so the car is not really much of a concern.   

ISP PRELIMINARY ACCIDENT DESCRIPTION: #1 WAS HEADING EAST ON HWY 30 APPROACHING THE INTERSECTION OF HWY 4 AND HWY 30 DRIVER OF VEHICLE #1 HAD A MEDICAL ISSUE THAT CAUSED DRIVER TO BLACK OUT VEHICLE #1 DROVE THROUGH THE INTERSECTION WITHOUT STOPPING, CONTINUING EAST PAST THE INTERSECTION VEHICLE #1 THEN DROVE OFF ROAD RIGHT, DOWN INTO DITCH HITTING A GRASS MOUND CAUSING VEHICLE #1 TO FLIP END OVER END TWICE COMING TO REST ON ITS WHEELS.

Steve Lombardi
Iowa personal injury, workers' compensation, motorcycle, quadriplegic, paraplegic, brain injury, death
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