When an Accident is Caused by a Medical Condition, is the Affected Driver Liable?

Accidents can happen when drivers suffer symptoms of diagnosed medical conditions like diabetes and seizures that cause them to crash. According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration’s study, 62% of drivers who suffered medical emergencies were involved in single-vehicle crashes compared to 17% of other drivers.

Many drivers do not realize they suffer from medical conditions that can impact their ability to drive safely. Those injured in car accidents caused by drivers with medical conditions can recover compensation with the legal guidance of Cofman Townsley’s auto accident lawyers.

What Types of Medical Conditions Cause Car Accidents?

Any disorder that impacts a driver’s coordination, mental capacities, and judgment can cause an auto accident. A driver may get into a collision due to medical conditions such as the following:

Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease, such as coronary heart disease and stroke, affects the heart and blood vessels. According to a 2018 study, cardiovascular disease increases drivers’ risk of car accidents.

For instance, the sudden onset of a stroke can cause a driver to lose control of their arms and vehicle and cause a collision. A 2017 study of patients who suffered strokes found that 4% of stroke patients suffered a stroke while driving, and 16% were involved in an accident.


Drivers who eat a snack while driving can suffer from choking. Choking is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention. Drivers who choke on food behind the wheel are at risk of causing serious accidents that can result in death or injury.

The National Safety Council notes that choking is the fourth leading cause of unintentional death. The death rate for choking increases among people aged 78 or older.


According to a 2006 study, diabetic drivers have a 30% higher risk of a car crash than non-diabetic people. Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar levels, can cause sudden impaired consciousness for diabetic drivers, resulting in an accident. This impairment occurs more often in diabetic drivers who take insulin.

Other symptoms of diabetes, like peripheral neuropathy, can impair a driver’s sense of sensation in the lower limbs. As a result, they may find it difficult to put the proper amount of pressure on the accelerator, brake, or clutch pedals.

Mental Health Conditions

People with mental illness have a higher risk of car accidents. For example, drivers with schizophrenia have a two-fold higher risk of car accidents than their counterparts of the same age. Symptoms such as coordination impairment, cognitive issues, and medication side effects affect their driving performance.

Seizure Disorders

Seizure disorders, such as epilepsy, can stay under control with medication. However, a driver with epilepsy can suffer an unexpected seizure while on the road. Symptoms may include convulsions, loss of consciousness, and muscle spasms. Seizures contribute to 11% of all car crashes involving drivers with epilepsy.

How Does a Diagnosed Condition Affect a Missouri Driver’s Ability to Drive?

If a driver cannot operate their vehicle due to a diagnosed medical condition, a relative or a physician can report them to the Department of Revenue Director. Once the director receives the report, there is a 10-day window for the driver to present medical documentation showing a change in their condition.

The director may require a driver to undergo a driving test to ensure their driving fitness. The exam includes written tests, visual evaluations, and highway sign assessments. If necessary, a driver may also undergo a physical and mental examination.

What Is the Fault Determined in Medical Emergency Crashes?

A few key factors can determine liability if a negligent driver has caused your accident due to a pre-existing medical condition. These factors include:

  • Whether the driver knew about their health condition and failed to take the necessary precautions to prevent a potential accident
  • The severity of the medical condition and its contribution to the crash
  • Injuries and property damage resulting from the accident

Identifying who is responsible and their percentage of fault requires the guidance of an experienced car accident lawyer. As part of the investigation, your lawyer will review photos and videos of the accident to examine the driver’s behavior and determine if a potential medical condition caused the crash.

Your lawyer can also question witnesses closely to prove that the motorist was aware of the condition but chose to drive regardless. For instance, a first responder’s testimony could contradict the driver’s claims that their medical condition did not contribute to the accident.

Consult Cofman Townsley for a Free Case Review

The auto accident attorneys at Cofman Townsley can help you after a car accident involving a driver with a medical condition. We can investigate the cause of the crash and help you seek compensation to pay for your injuries.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation to discuss the circumstances of your car accident and explore your legal options.