Officials say West Palm Beach man died prior to car accident

November 8th, 2012 - by DKRPA

Often when we talk about drivers having their licenses revoked (or, at least, severely restricted), it is in reference to teenage drivers — the most dangerous group on the road — or older drivers — running a close second. Teen drivers can suffer from over-exuberance and a lack of experience on the road, causing accidents while they are moving through the driver’s license ranks. Older drivers, meanwhile, can suffer from lapses in judgment or reduced reaction times, similarly spurring car accidents.

However, there is a bubbling national debate about medical professionals and their role in limiting people from getting behind the wheel of a car if a medical condition they suffer from would inhibit their driving privilege. An example of just such a situation occurred in Palm Beach, Florida recently.

A 52-year-old man was driving his car when he suddenly crashed. He only hit a couple of stop signs and eventually stopped in the middle of the road, with the car still running. No other car struck him — and yet, he was found dead behind the wheel. A medical examiner discovered that he had died of natural causes while driving.

While this man did not affect other drivers (nor, does it seem, did he have a medical condition), there have been cases in other states where the victims in a car accident caused by a driver with a medical condition sued the at-fault driver’s doctor for not diagnosing the issue and reporting the driver to the DMV.

So that raises the question — should doctors be held liable in car accidents where their patients could be adversely affected behind the wheel? It’s a can of worms that really doesn’t have a simple answer. There are legal and liability concerns (on both the personal injury and medical malpractice sides of the law) with making rulings that implicate doctors in car accidents.

Source: Palm Beach Post, “Medical examiner: West Palm man died before crashing car on Beeline,” Sonja Isger, Oct. 25, 2012