Do Disabled Drivers Face Liability For Car Accidents?

Christian J. Amendt

Individuals seeking a driver’s license must prove they can operate a motor vehicle safely. The law does not restrict people with disabilities from driving if they can follow the road rules and meet the state’s Department of Motor Vehicle guidelines.

Consequently, California’s status as an at-fault state means all drivers may face liability for causing auto accidents.

Who may obtain a disabled driver’s license?

California drivers who lose the use of their arms or legs, have mobility and hearing impairments or provide doctors’ notes explaining their physical limitations may receive a driver’s license after passing a standard written and road test. Disabled drivers must also equip their vehicles with appropriate assistive devices to ensure safe operation.

What kinds of liability do disabled drivers face?

Disabled drivers have the same accountability as other drivers. However, their liability risk may be more significant because they have the additional responsibility for applying vehicle modifications or using properly functioning assistive devices while driving. Regardless of disability status, drivers who do not use the judgment of any reasonable person while on the road are liable for another party’s damages if their negligence causes an accident.

Also, California is a pure comparative negligence at-fault state that assigns a degree of fault for accidents when determining damages liability. Drivers may carry the minimum liability insurance the state requires but may face lawsuits for damages exceeding their coverage limits. Disabled drivers who must maintain additional vehicle features face more accident liability opportunities.

Although various modifications can help disabled drivers operate their vehicles, the same safe driving practices apply to all drivers with license privileges.