Taverniti | Vashishth LLP (www.TorontosPersonalInjuryLawyer.com), a law firm specializing in all aspects of Canadian personal injury law, is commenting on the link between sleep medications and car accidents following the results of new studies.
Reported in Sleep Medicine, the studies found that older drivers have a significantly higher risk of getting in car accidents if they are taking prescription sleep medications. In particular, people over the age of 80 and women over the age of 70 who use the prescription sleep medication Ambien were found to have a highly elevated risk. (Source: Doyle, K. “For older drivers, sleep meds are linked with car accidents,” Reuters, January 15, 2016; http://uk.reuters.com/article/us-health-elders-sleep-meds-idUKKCN0UT2DQ.)
“Sleep medications are common among seniors and even the general population, so this study could have big implications,” says Mick Vashishth, paralegal, managing and founding partner of Taverniti | Vashishth LLP. “The results clearly show that you are more likely to get into a collision if you’re taking sleep medication. That means you’re more likely to be injured and more likely to be liable for an accident.”
Ambien (trade name zolpidem) is commonly prescribed for sleep disorders Women taking zolpidem were 61% more likely to be in an accident while drivers who were 80 and over had twice the risk of a collision if they were taking the medication.
“With these results, we could see this having an effect on cases,” says Vashishth. “If someone has been taking this medication, it could end up having an impact on cases they’re pursuing against an insurance company or another driver. Or, they could end up being held liable themselves.”
Other studies have found a similar connection between zolpidem and the accident rate in young drivers. However, it’s the over-80 demographic that has shown to be most at risk of being involved in an accident while using zolpidem.
“People need to be taking safety precautions, especially if they’re in the high-risk groups that were most affected,” notes Vashishth. “That means women and seniors need to take extra care to avoid accidents if they’re using sleep medication. That could mean avoiding driving either early in the morning or directly after resting, which are the time the medication may still be having an effect.”
The lead author of the most recent study said that people should ensure that they only drive when blood serum concentrations of the medication are low. That includes only driving when fully awake and alert, as well as never taking the medication before or during a drive.
“It may seem like a hassle to some people, but it could be what keeps them from being disabled or even killed,” says Vashishth. “Car accidents are more common than a lot of people think, and all it takes is one injury to completely change their lives or those of their families.”
Taverniti | Vashishth LLP handles personal injury claims ranging from car and road accidents, slips and falls, and catastrophic claims. They are equipped to handle the most complex legal and insurance issues arising from an accident. More information about the firm can be found at www.TorontosPersonalInjuryLawyer.com