Should you drive yourself to the hospital if you’re suffering from coronavirus, the flu or another illness?
Everyday, Americans suffering from either illness or injury will attempt to drive themselves to the hospital to seek treatment. But due to distractions brought on by pain or fever, they sometimes end up not making it to their destination. Sometimes they cause a serious car accident.
When possible, it’s highly recommended to have someone drive if you are suffering from a disease, illness or injury.
Take it from this writer, who was suffering from flu-like symptoms a few weeks ago, that attempting to drive yourself to a hospital or urgent care can be a bad idea. I was sick enough not to be paying close attention and was nearly involved in 2 car crashes in the short drive to urgent care. While I was sick and distracted, I was cognizant of the fact that I had 2 close-calls within the span of a few minutes. On my return trip home, I was much more focused and didn’t have any issues.
Scholle Law is encouraging anyone who is contemplating driving themselves to the hospital or doctor while exhibiting signs of COVID-19 to rethink this decision.
When you’re suffering from body ache, fever, cough and congestion, you’re not at your best. This can lead to driving oversights. The last thing you want is to end up crashing while trying to seek treatment – or worse, getting killed.
Ask your partner, a friend or even a neighbor to transport you when you’re feeling sick. If needed, call an ambulance.
What to do if you think you might have coronavirus?
An important note about coronavirus:
Authorities are asking people who think that have COVID-19 not to just show up at a hospital or doctor’s office. Instead, if you are feeling unwell, please call your doctor or a healthcare professional first to tell them about your symptoms.
They’ll be able to advise you on what to do next. This recommendation is important to avoid potentially exposing others to the virus.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Many people are aware of the regular flu symptoms – chills, cough, congestion, muscle aches, runny nose, fever and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.
But what does coronavirus add to the equation?
As far as symptoms, they are practically identical as the flu. For older people or people with underlying medical issues, the illness can be more severe and lead to pneumonia or create breathing difficulties. People over the age of 70 with heart problems, diabetes or asthma are more vulnerable to the virus.
One of the complications coronavirus adds to the equation is that it seems to be slightly more contagious than other viruses and symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure, so discovering where you were exposed to the virus and determining its incubation period can be difficult.
Is driving while sick negligent?
Local news outlets in Georgia have published a myriad of stories about injured drivers getting themselves to the hospital for treatment. For example, one Atlanta man was shot in the head – twice – on I-20 and then drove himself to the hospital.
But doing so isn’t always advisable.
In fact, driving while ill or injured could open you up to a negligence lawsuit.
One Cardiff University study showed that driving while suffering from a cold could be just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated.
“People with a cold had slower reaction times than those associated with drinking,” said Cardiff University professor Andy Smith in an interview with The Daily Mail.
In the study, researchers found that when a driver sneezes, they take their eyes off the road for an average of 3 seconds, and a heavy cold can reduce a driver’s situational awareness by up to 33 percent.
While Georgia does allow a “sudden medical emergency” defense (meaning drivers who suffer a loss of consciousness or capability that is sudden and unforeseeable may not be held liable for any negligent acts committed as a result), being sick while causing a car crash can leave a driver open to liability.
What’s more, the Sudden Medical Emergency defense may not apply if you crash while driving sick with a flu, cold, or COVID-19 since it may be difficult to prove that your condition was sudden or unforeseeable if you were displaying symptoms before you got behind the wheel.
Seeking medical treatment is a natural and good urge when a person contracts symptoms of the flu or other illness. Just don’t try to drive yourself to the hospital or doctor.
If you don’t have a family member or friend you can ask, call a taxi or Uber — or an ambulance in the worst case scenario. Just try to avoid coughing or sneezing on them while you’re in the vehicle.
Stay healthy out there, my fellow Georgians!