Senior Driver Labeled as Dangerous in Wrongful Death of Ohio Bicyclist

dangerous driverA 64-year-old Ohio man has been labeled a “dangerous driver” in a wrongful death suit filed by the family of a 19-year-old Ohio bicyclist. The bicyclist, Kristopher Smith of Summerfield Township, Ohio, was killed June 15, 2015 when Charles Iott of Deerfield hit Kristopher with his pick-up truck. Eight weeks earlier Iott’s eye doctor allegedly told him his vision was so poor it was no longer safe for him to drive and that he was disqualified from driving.

Iott had a history of diabetic retinopathy and severe macular degeneration and had received multiple driving violations including speeding tickets. Diabetic retinopathy is damage to the retina due to diabetes which often leads to blindness. Macular degeneration also causes loss of vision. At an earlier time, Iott was also reportedly involved in a crash where he rear-ended a family dropping off children. That accident occurred on the same road where Smith was killed. Smith’s family is seeking $7.5 million in the suit filed March 28 in Monroe County Circuit Court.

Iott has been charged with a misdemeanor moving violation in Smith’s death and his license has been revoked. Witnesses said after striking the bicyclist, Iott never slowed down. Iott said he was going 45 miles an hour when Smith was hit, but the vehicle’s black box said he was going 55 miles an hour before and after he struck Smith. Alcohol was not a factor in the crash, according to officials.

Smith, who was named student of the year in his high school class, was dragged 150 feet under the truck and died hours after the accident in a Toledo hospital. The Smith family’s attorney, Chad Engelhardt, called the accident “entirely preventable” and said Iott “knowingly endangered the community” with his history of medical problems that impaired his driving ability. “Iott chose to drive when he knew he shouldn’t “ and ran “a kid over in the middle of the road,” Englehardt stated.

Statistics on Senior Drivers

Per mile driven, older drivers are over-represented in fatal accidents. According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, a senior citizen is more likely than a younger driver to be at fault in an accident in which both are involved.

Some places require persons above a specified age to take certain tests when renewing their license, for example, vision tests. The older driver may have to produce a physician’s statement that they are medically fit to operate a vehicle or they may be required to take a road test. Some senior citizens are permitted to continue to drive, but there are restrictions placed on the amount of driving they can do, the hours during which they can drive, or the distance they can travel from home. These limitations may be designated by law or by an insurance provider.

Some states require drivers to disclose medical conditions in applying for or renewing their license. In Maryland, there are 20 conditions listed which one must disclose to the motor vehicle division including bipolar disorder, irregular heart rhythm and autism. Most states ask drivers to disclose any medical or physical disability that may affect safe driving, but are not so specific.

In New York, anyone who has five or more drug or alcohol-related driving convictions can be designated a “Persistently Drunk and Dangerous Driver.” Most states have some form of “reckless driving” offense with varying penalties. Ohio does not have a “dangerous driver” designation.

Requirements for Senior Drivers

Senior drivers receive a vision test when renewing their driver’s license and must have 20/40 vision in each eye and a horizontal vision field of 70 in each eye. If other medical or physical disabilities are brought to the attention of state license officials, by a doctor or family member, or applicant appropriate tests will be administered and action may be taken regarding the driver’s license.

If you or a loved one who has been seriously injured or killed by an impaired driver, you may want to seek compensation for your injuries, or make it easier for the family to proceed financially without their deceased family member. Of course no amount of money can replace serious damage that has been done to someone’s body or an accident that has taken someone’s life but it is important to proceed against the responsible party.

We have attorneys who can assist you in filing a personal injury lawsuit or wrongful death action. These things are not always pleasant to talk about, but you do not want to find yourself years from now regretting that you had not sought legal help at the appropriate time. Please call our law firm at 1-888-459-0765, chat with one of our 24-hour live chat representatives or send us a website message.

In filing a personal injury suit, you have two years from the date the cause of action accrues. This is called the statute of limitations. The cause of action “accrues” when injury or loss to person or property occurs. A wrongful death lawsuit must be filed two years from the date of death of the deceased person.

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