Is It Dangerous to Drive While Sick?

A man driving with a mask

Many aspects of the coronavirus pandemic are frightening, but it’s especially terrifying for people who get sick in the midst of this crisis. With all of the potentially deadly impacts of COVID-19, people often panic when they’re sick and might even rush to the hospital.

People who drive themselves to the doctor or any other facility while they’re sick often expose themselves and others to even greater risks. What happens if you’re in an accident during the coronavirus lockdown? What can you do to protect your rights during this pandemic?

If you were involved in a car accident or concerned about your rights and responsibilities in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, contact the Geiger Legal Group, LLC, right away. We’re here to do all we can to help you in the midst of these uncertain times. You don’t even have to leave your house to get help.

Call Geiger Legal Group, LLC, today or reach us online to set up a free consultation over the phone or via video conference and get the support you need.

Should I Drive If I Have Coronavirus?

If you are experiencing a medical emergency, it’s critical to call 911 to get medical attention as quickly as possible. In other situations, if you are experiencing mild symptoms and you suspect you might have coronavirus, there are multiple things you should consider before you get behind the wheel.

For one, you might not need to drive anywhere to get the help you need. Most doctor’s offices and hospitals have asked patients who think they might have COVID-19 to call them instead of just showing up. These medical professionals can listen to your description of your symptoms and advise you on what to do next.

Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that during this pandemic, everyone should limit travel – even within the United States. If you have the virus, then you might spread it when you stop at the gas station or drive to locations like the grocery store or work. In addition, if there a chance that you are sick with something other than COVID-19, then driving will increase your exposure to the virus and make it more likely that you’ll develop coronavirus on top of whatever other illness you have.

While it isn’t explicitly illegal for non-commercial drivers to drive while they’re sick, the virus might make it difficult to drive and increase the chance that you’ll hurt yourself or someone else. In many cases, it’s highly recommended that if you’re not feeling well, you should let other people in your household drive, call a taxi or rideshare service, or rely on no-contact services like grocery and prescription delivery.

The Effects of Prescription and OTC Medications

If at all possible, it’s recommended that you avoid driving when you’re taking any medications that might impact your ability to control a vehicle.

Many prescription and over-the-counter medications can have effects similar to those of alcohol and illegal drugs and might significantly impair your ability to safely operate a vehicle. For example, these medicines can make it difficult for you to focus, lower your reaction times, weaken your decision-making abilities, or make you incredibly sleepy.

Is Driving While Sick Considered Negligence?

If you choose to drive while you’re sick, then this could be considered negligence in certain cases. For example, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) prohibits commercial drivers from operating a vehicle if their illness impairs their alertness or abilities or if it in any way makes it unsafe for them to drive.

There aren’t laws that explicitly prohibit non-commercial drivers from driving while they’re sick, but people might still be liable if they cause a car accident because they’re sick. Although Georgia law has a provision that protects drivers from liability if they suffer from a “sudden medical emergency,” this only applies when the driver experiences a sudden and unforeseeable loss of consciousness or capacity. It’s unlikely that you can claim this defense if you already felt sick before you got in the car.

Additionally, in the case of coronavirus, people with the virus might risk the lives of anyone they come in contact with, particularly people who are most vulnerable, like the elderly and people with underlying medical conditions. Courts might determine that you acted negligently if you knowingly exposed people to COVID-19 by driving while you were sick with the virus.

What Are the Risks of Driving While Sick?

Any time you take your eyes or mind off the road, it puts you and other motorists at risk. When you’re sick, it’s difficult to drive as safely as you usually can when you’re well.

Some of the risks of driving while you’re sick include:

  • Accidently closing your eyes or taking your hands off the wheel when you cough or sneeze
  • Falling asleep or having difficulty concentrating while you try to make it to your destination
  • Getting distracted by aches, pains, nausea, and other symptoms of your illness
  • Mistakenly swerving into another lane while you’re trying to follow directions or you’re reaching for a tissue or medicine

Contact Our Canton Personal Injury Lawyers for a Free Consultation

With Geiger Legal Group, LLC, you don’t even have to leave your house during the COVID-19 pandemic to access trusted legal advice.

Our family-run law firm is focused on serving people throughout North Georgia. Geiger Legal Group, LLC, has been providing people in Canton and the surrounding areas with personalized, industry-leading legal services for nearly 40 years. Not only are we committed to providing clients with five-star-rated legal services, but we’re also dedicated to serving and supporting our community.

If you need help in the midst of this unprecedented crisis, call Geiger Legal Group, LLC, right away or reach out to us online. We’ll help you schedule your free consultation over the phone or via video conference and answer any questions you might have.