Doctor not liable for fatal crash caused by patient, jury says

Patients who suffer from serious or chronic medical conditions expect to be monitored and cared for by Will County physicians who properly diagnose conditions and illnesses, prescribe necessary medications that control symptoms and provide other assistance.

However, after something tragic happens as a result of a patient’s illness, patients and their families might feel as if a doctor could have done more to help control their concerning health problems. When this happens, patients and their families could be victims of medical malpractice.

Two years ago, an 85-year-old woman who had been diagnosed with dementia was driving a vehicle with her partner in the passenger seat. The woman made a mistake while driving that led to a serious car accident. The woman’s partner died and she survived the accident. After the fatal crash, the woman’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against her doctor.

The woman and her family argued that her doctor should have informed her that she was not fit to drive as a result of her health. Had her doctor warned her not to drive, she would have never caused the fatal accident that took the life of her loved one.

Nevertheless, a jury concluded last week that the dementia patient’s doctor was not negligent when he failed to warn the patient that she should no longer drive because her condition made it unsafe for her to do so. The woman had been a dementia patient for only a short period of time, so the woman’s doctor allegedly did not think that her illness would have impeded her ability to safely operate a vehicle.

Although the family was disheartened by the jury’s decision, ultimately they were pleased to bring awareness to such a sensitive issue and alert other families that the same thing could happen to someone they love.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Doctor not responsible for patient’s fatal crash,” Alan Zarembo, Sept. 7, 2012


Wrongful Death

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