Florida is one of the few states that do not take measures to keep track of the medical conditions that impact a person’s ability to operate a vehicle safely. This lapse is much more important in Florida than it is in other states because the number of people over sixty-five years of age is higher in Florida. Retirement in Florida is a dream but it can become a nightmare for the retiree and for other drivers.
One recent example can serve as a warning to people and to legislators. A seventy year old man died due to a chronic condition while driving his truck in Punta Gordo. The vehicle crossed the median and struck another car after repeatedly hitting the guardrail.
The death and the accident could have been avoided if Florida law allowed record keeping about medical conditions as a part of the licensing procedure. The present system requires a report from citizens about erratic driving so that police can investigate. A review of any medical condition that might have contributed to an accident or behavior that might cause an accident depends on a person filing a report with the police.
Chronic medical conditions normally increase with age. Chronic medical conditions that can impair the ability to drive can be the result of birth defect or behavior. Diabetes, epilepsy, alcoholism, and drug abuse are some examples. Heart disease and dementia are more prevalent in older people.
A second cause of accidents that Florida law does not help to prevent is the use of medications to treat common conditions. This applies to legally prescribed medicine. Many medications can impair the ability to drive a vehicle safely.
Pain killers, antidepressants, some cough medicines, anxiety medications, antihistamines, tranquilizers, and decongestants can impair a person’s ability to drive. The individual may not notice any difference in their mental or physical abilities because they have been taking the drug for a long period of time and have developed a tolerance.
Over the counter drugs can cause similar problems with driving or may interact with prescribed medications to increase the impairment of a driver. Physicians have tools that can tell a person how any medicine or any combination of medicines will impact their driving.
Florida law views the presence of a medical condition as a means to prevent a person who has been injured by a driver who has a medical condition from receiving as much as they would from the same injury caused by a person who did not have a medical condition. The driver can be found totally not at fault due to a medical condition. A personal injury attorney can see that a driver with a medical condition can be found at least partially at fault.
Insurance companies use the Florida loophole for medical conditions to their advantage. They argue that any accident due to a medical condition or the treatment of a medical condition is totally unavoidable. This argument prevents any revelation of the driver’s medical history. The injured party must have a personal injury attorney to avoid the claim of no fault.