Chronic illness is a major issue in the country, with a large percentage of us living with one or more chronic illnesses. This can compound an accident because most people will not know how and if it’s even possible to apportion liability if they were victims of such an accident. Certain medical conditions can be managed with the right medication and lifestyle, but sometimes, a freak occurrence can cause a person living with such a condition to lose control of a vehicle, a machine at work and so on, thereby leading to catastrophic injuries.
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The following preexisting conditions can make it difficult to operate a vehicle:
- Epilepsy and seizure disorders
- Heart disease
- Poor eyesight
Determining Liability for Pre-Existing Medical Illnesses
In some cases, people with pre-existing medical illnesses may not be authorized to operate a vehicle or machine, and this is clearly laid out in their drivers’ license. These limitations are enforced and can be a reason to place liability on a person who knowingly has any of these severe conditions but still gets behind a wheel or operates a crane or any other piece of machinery in an industrial work setting.
It’s Not as Easy as It Seems
However, it’s not always cut-and-dry as a judge will look at a number of things such as testimonies from medical specialists, neurologists and others in order to determine if the defendant was aware of not only their condition as well as their risk to other individuals. In addition, the legal process will try to determine by looking at the evidence if the individual was intentionally negligent by not doing what is expected to manage their condition.
Sudden Emergency Doctrine
Sometimes, a driver or mechanical operator may not even be aware of their condition, and suffers a major event for the first time, causing an accident and consequent injury. In such cases, the “sudden emergency doctrine” applies, which may shield them from legal action as they simply were not aware they were unwell, as the illness developed suddenly and was out of their control, canceling out the theory of reasonableness which would have helped them take reasonable steps to manage their condition, thereby averting an accident.
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