People who suffer from epilepsy may be able to drive safely provided they take all safety precautions, including taking any necessary medications, and stick to the limitations placed on them under the law. A new study, in fact, finds that an early diagnosis of epilepsy may significantly reduce car accident risks.
According to the study, as many as 5% of patients who suffer from epilepsy had suffered a seizure while driving before their diagnosis. The researchers, who include members of the American Academy of Neurology, were specifically looking at how long a person drives before he or she received an epilepsy diagnosis. They believe that it is important to push for earlier diagnosis of epilepsy in order to reduce car accident risks among these persons.
As part of the study, the researchers focused on 447 persons who suffered from focal epilepsy which is marked by recurrent seizures. They found that 23 of these people had suffered a seizure while driving. About 26% suffered their first seizure while driving while around 30% had suffered more than one seizure while driving. In all, these seizures resulted in 19 auto accidents with 11 of these car accidents requiring hospitalization.
As many as 700,000 people with valid drivers licenses in the United States are epilepsy patients. More than 120,000 persons of driving age with epilepsy join the population every year. That makes it a large population of people who suffer from this neurological condition that could trigger seizures while driving. Based on the findings of the study, the researchers calculate that approximately 6,500 people with epilepsy suffer seizures while driving every year, possibly causing as many as 4,000 car accidents. The study also revealed that the average time for a diagnosis from the time the person first suffered a seizure to his first seizure while driving was 304 days. This means that there is a need for greater awareness of the earliest symptoms of epilepsy and a push for earlier diagnoses of this condition in order to prevent auto accidents.
While people with epilepsy can be on medications that allow them to lead a normal life, there are precautions that must be followed while driving. In Georgia, for example, the law allows a person who suffers from epilepsy to receive a medical driving license to drive vehicles that weigh below 26,000 pounds in weight. However, they must have been seizure- free for at least 6 months before they apply. If the person only suffers from night- time seizures, there may be exceptions to the rule.
The Atlanta car crash attorneys at Katz Personal Injury Lawyers are dedicated to the representation of persons injured in car accidents in the metro Atlanta region and across Georgia. If you or a loved one have suffered injuries in a car accident, talk to a lawyer at our firm and determine if you have legal options to a claim for damages. You may be eligible for compensation that includes medical expenses, lost income and other types of damages. Talk to an attorney at our firm and discuss your case.