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Colorado case opens dialogue regarding seizures in car accidents

Car accidents can occur at any time, causing grievous injuries or even fatalities. In February 2011, a Colorado woman suffered a seizure just as she was entering an intersection, causing her vehicle to become airborne and smash into two cars. Traveling at more than 100 miles per hour, she collided into two cars. The car accident resulted in the deaths of three children and their parents, as well as injuries to several other people involved in the crash.

The case presents a variety of interesting legal questions regarding negligence, medical advice, and car accidents. The woman was recently found not guilty of the criminal charges resulting from the incident. Currently, only six states require a doctor to inform the department of motor vehicles of a patient's seizure diagnosis. Colorado is currently not one of these states, but the victims' family hopes to change this fact.

In the woman's criminal trial, prosecutors claimed that the defendant acted negligently by driving when she knew she was prone to seizures. The defendant previously had a seizure-like episode in 2006, after which doctors told her she should not drive until a neurologist deemed it safe to do so. Prosecutors claimed that she ignored the doctor's recommendation. However, later that year, the Colorado woman consulted another doctor who was not convinced that she had a seizure in the first accident.

Prosecutors also allege she had another seizure at August 2010. Her husband testified that the 2010 incident did not worry him since he believed she was only suffering from a heat stroke. Ultimately, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty.

Source: ABC News, "Monica Chavez: Colorado Woman Who Had Seizure, Killed Family Found Not Guilty," Clayton Sandell, June 16, 2012

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