Like every other state in the country, California allows people with disabilities to obtain a driver’s licence as long as the disability doesn’t infringe on the safety of operating a vehicle. There are also cases where drivers are issued licences with certain restrictions on the driving privilege, including those with disabilities or even teenagers.
A disabled driver is usually defined as a person who is unable to safely operate a motor vehicle without a certain special accommodation. These can include, for example, a driver who doesn’t have full use of their legs and requires the use of some type of hand control in the vehicle instead of pedals. Moreover, a driver who’s disable will typically have their disability noted on their driver’s license.
On the other hand, a restricted driver is a person who has some type of limitation placed on their driving privileges. As previously mentioned, teen drivers enter this category, but other examples can include people who have to wear corrective lenses to drive safely. Similarly, the drivers’ restricted status will usually be noted on their driver’s license as well.
Being disabled and/or having a restricted driver status doesn’t usually have an impact on a car accident claim. There are, however, a few specific exceptions. In this article, our team of experienced car accident attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers will go over these how car accidents involving handicaped or disabled drivers are dealt with under the law.
Regardless of disabilities or being able bodied, all drivers have an equal legal duty to obey traffic laws and to drive in a safe manner. When a person operating a vehicle fails to act with reasonable care and ultimately causes injuries to someone else, including other drivers, pedestrians, or passengers, to name a few, this person will be considered a negligent driver and will be liable for all damages they caused.
A driver’s actions in connection with a collision are always measured against what a reasonable person would or would not have done. If a driver is considered to have deviated from the “reasonable person” standard, they will most likely be found at fault for the accident.
In addition to obeying traffic laws, all drivers are required to have a duty of care towards the people they share the road with, which includes being aware of everything that surrounds them. That can include other vehicles, traffic control devices and signs, pedestrians, among many other factors. For example: if a driver fails to notice what is plainly there to be seen, or is unable to see for whatever reason, and an accident occurs, there’s a pretty big possibility that they will be found negligent and hence liable.
The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) uses several qualifications to determine whether a driver has the necessary physical and mental skills to safely operate a motor vehicle. The following describes what DMV takes into account when evaluating drivers for issues that may impair their ability to drive:
- California Vehicle Code (CVC) §§12806 and 12809 authorize the DMV to refuse to issue or renew a driver license to someone who can’t safely operate a motor vehicle due to reasons relating to physical or mental conditions.
- CVC §12814 permits the DMV to administer certain tests and perform a reexamination to drivers upon renewal of a driver license.
- CVC §13800 allows the DMV to make an investigation and perform a reexamination of a driver.
- CVC §12818 authorizes priority reexamination of a driver for reasons relating to a physical or mental condition which impairs the driving ability, and CVC §13953 permits immediate suspension or revocation of the driver license.
- CVC §13359 authorizes DMV to suspend or revoke a driver license on any grounds pertaining to refusal of the driver license.
In essence, any driver who received a driver’s license did so because they proved they have the physical and mental abilities to operate a car in a safe manner. This includes people with disabilities or with restricted licenses: the law treats them just like any other driver. In the event that a driver with a disability gets into a car accident they’re at fault for, the standard rule of negligence would apply in order to determine the extent of the driver’s liability.
Moreover, given that disabled drivers must abide by the restrictions placed on their driving privileges, the failure to do so would most likely be a violation of traffic law. Let’s consider an example: Jenny is a disabled driver who requires special assistive equipment in order to operate her car. If she fails to use that equipment, or fails to properly maintain it, and this plays a part in causing an accident, Jenny would be issued a citation. In instances when there’s injuries, said citation can be used as clear evidence of the driver’s negligence. Her disability would play no part in this, in her favor nor against her.
To reiterate one final time, when a person with a disability or handicap is allowed a driver’s license, they are assuming the responsibilities every other driver is obliged to follow under traffic laws. Had they’ve been deemed to not have the physical and mental capabilities to operate a vehicle, they wouldn’t have awarded driving privileges.
If you were injured in a car accident that was caused by another driver, you have the right to obtain compensation for your losses. Car accident victims may be entitled to damages for:
Depending on the specific circumstances of the accident, you may be entitled to punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded on top of the normal compensatory damages you may already be entitled to. They are only awarded when the defendant deliberately tried to cause a plaintiff harm or behaved in a particularly egregious manner, such as driving under the influence or after a hit and run.