Commerce secretary's seizure may have caused car accidents

Posted on in Personal Injury

Sometimes we hear in the news about car accidents that happen as a result of a driver's medical condition. These auto accidents are troubling because they are highly unpredictable, yet extremely damaging.

U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson suffered a seizure on June 9 while he was driving not far out of Los Angeles. During this episode, he collided with two cars. His vehicle first hit a car that was waiting for a train to pass, striking it twice. In the second of the two car accidents, which occurred only minutes later, his car hit a second vehicle.

The U.S. Cabinet member was subsequently observed passed out in his car, presumably the result of a seizure. He obtained medical attention and later announced that he was temporarily stepping away from his job to focus on his medical issues.

Government spokesmen claimed that the 68-year-old commerce secretary had not previously experienced a seizure. There was no definitive proof as to whether the seizure came before the accidents, after them, or during one or both of them. But it is quite possible that a seizure caused the accidents.

California law requires physicians to file reports with authorities of patients with epileptic seizures or who complain about lapsed consciousness, since those medical problems can pose impairment to safe driving. Such a patient is required to remain seizure-free for his or her own safety and the safety of others before being allowed to resume driving.

This fact raises the issue of whether the U.S. Commerce Secretary should have been driving, and whether there were any prior medical indications that he could experience a seizure. If the secretary himself knew of his condition, yet chose to keep driving, how does that have an impact on any possible liability for damages for the accident? These are issues that can affect anyone with a seizure disorder, as well as any motorists on the road around them if the patient chooses to drive.

Source:, "U.S. Commerce Secretary taking leave of absence after suffering seizure connected to 2 car accidents," June 12, 2012

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