I had an adverse reaction to some new medication while driving my car and accidentally hit and injured a bicyclist. Can criminal charges be filed? Can the bicyclist sue me?
The simple response, according to attorney Joe Veenstra, is that “Anyone can sue and criminal charges could be brought, although that doesn’t mean they will stick.”
His advice for anyone who is in a car accident involving injuries is to get the advice of a lawyer right away.
“You can’t just claim you had an adverse reaction to a new medication,” he said. “You need to prove it.”
Needed evidence varies depending on the reaction you had. You may need bloodwork if your claim is that the drug made you sleepy. Also, it is not uncommon for people to take more pain medication than prescribed. That can be a problem if bloodwork shows a higher level than prescribed.
You may need an EKG—a brain study—if you had a seizure or convulsion. Most states don’t allow people who have had a seizure to drive for several months to make sure the condition is under control through medications. If you had previous seizures and still drove, you may have legal problems.
Most medications today carry warnings that new users should not drive a car or operate heavy machinery until they know how the medication will affect them. Whether you have a defense might depend on whether you had taken that precaution with a new drug before driving.
Criminal charges could be filed if a district attorney determines the accident was caused by your negligence or if the amount of medication in your system is higher than the prescribed level.
If a doctor will testify that you had an adverse reaction it would help your case whether you are sued by the injured person or charged with a crime.
“If you feel a medication is affecting you cognitively, you should not be driving,” Veenstra said. “Contact your doctor.”
Information provided by Joe Veenstra, La Crosse personal injury lawyer. For a personal injury attorney in La Crosse, contact Joe at 508-784-5678.