Drivers may operate a motor vehicle in Florida as long as they are capable of doing so safely. Seniors can drive indefinitely, although the state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles requires vision tests with every license renewal after age 80. A medical review board will conduct an investigation if a person's health problems are suspected of impairing driving ability. A driver can be required to have a physical exam to prove medical fitness.
A 74-year-old woman told police she remembered nothing about a fatal motorcycle accident that caused two fatalities. The woman was driving in Central Florida on a Saturday afternoon when her car reportedly drifted across the center line and into the path of a group of motorcycles.
Two bikers were able to move out of the car's path. The car glanced off a third bike and struck a fourth motorcycle straight on. Two riders, a married couple in their 60s, were thrown from the last bike. The husband died shortly after the crash; his wife died the following day.
Police initially reported that the driver of the car was asleep as the wheel. However, the crash report notes that she told officers she had not felt well and had "passed out." The investigation is incomplete. No charges have been yet filed against the driver, who was treated for pains in her chest following the fatal collision.
Can a person who causes a traffic accident due to a medical condition be blamed for the crash? That depends on the driver's pre-accident awareness of the condition and treatment or restrictions recommended by a physician. For example, a driver would not be able to predict a sudden heart attack, but a person diagnosed with epilepsy would know whether he or she was prone to seizures.
Drivers who neglect their own health, including fatigued drivers, can endanger other motorists. A jury in a personal injury or wrongful death case might determine a driver who failed to address a known medical condition was negligent. A personal injury attorney can help present that case if that is what happened.
Source: Daily Commercial, "Woman who caused double fatal crash said she passed out" Millard K. Ives, Jan. 16, 2014