For various reasons, most people do not stay home when they have colds, sore throats, or other mild illnesses. If they go to work, they are doing more than putting co-workers at risk for illness. These individuals are also endangering other motorists, as well as pedestrians and bicyclists. According to one study, a mild illness decreases driving ability by as much as 50%. One researcher said that driving while sick was like driving after downing four double whiskeys.
Both alcohol and illness affect mood and motor skills. Additionally, illness makes it difficult to concentrate. Respiratory illnesses are not the only problem. Stomach bugs, with their intense pain waves, have the same impact.
Due to these increased risks, an Indianapolis personal injury lawyer might be able to obtain substantial compensation for sick driver crash victims. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Evidence of Sick Driving
Victim/plaintiffs have the burden of proof in court. They must establish liability by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). So, evidence is critical at trial. Proof is also important during pretrial settlement negotiations. A lack of evidence means that an attorney must negotiate from a position of weakness, instead of a position of strength.
Frequently, evidence surfaces during a lawsuit’s discovery process. During this phase, the parties exchange information about the case and their claims or defenses. Common evidence in sick driving cases includes:
- Erratic Driving Before the Crash: Eyewitnesses at or near the scene can often establish this fact. Additionally, a vehicle’s Event Data Recorder tracks and records operational data like engine RPM and steering angle. EDRs are electronic recording devices attached to vehicle drivetrains.
- Pharmacy Purchases: Many people buy cold or other remedies from local retailers, and they often use their credit cards to do so. Therefore, these purchases are rather easy to trace. Driving under the influence of some medicines might be an independent ground for negligence, as outlined below.
- Doctor Visits: Because of doctor-patient confidentiality, the details of these visits are often unavailable. However, it is more likely than not that the visit included concerns about a mild illness.
- Statements: Many people are surprised at the things tortfeasors voluntarily tell first responders about the reasons for the crash. Generally, these statements are admissible in court.
This evidence is much like the random numbers in a paint-by-number picture. An Indianapolis personal injury lawyer must then color the spaces and create a compelling picture for Marion County jurors.
Tortfeasors (negligent drivers) are liable for damages if they breached the duty of care, and that breach substantially caused an injury.
Assume Paul caught a cold. Since he has no available paid time off, he felt like he had to go to work. His watery eyes blurred his vision, and he was concentrating more on his cough than the road. If Paul hits a pedestrian who was crossing the street, his illness might make him liable for damages, even if the pedestrian was jaywalking.
As mentioned, driving under the influence of certain medicines could also make drivers negligent. Let’s use the same example, but change the facts a bit. Now assume Paul took NyQuil to deal with cold symptoms. The next morning, his symptoms were mostly gone, but he had a NyQuil hangover. In his grogginess, he rear-ended another vehicle.
Paul’s illness probably did not cause the crash, but the NyQuil hangover probably did cause it. Driving under the influence of certain drugs is one of the five types of driver impairment, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Therefore, Paul is probably liable for damages.
Contact Experienced Lawyers
Sick drivers often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced Indianapolis personal injury attorney, contact Holland & Holland. We routinely handle matters in Marion County and nearby jurisdictions.