A former racecar driver who was paralyzed in an accident 16 years ago is making news on the roads once again. Earlier this week, Sam Schmidt became the first individual to receive a license allowing him to drive a specially-modified Chevrolet Corvette. Mr. Schmidt is paralyzed from the neck down as a result of a horrific accident, and although he has been able to sail a sailboat using only his chin he has not been able to drive a car since his accident. Due to advances in technology, however, Mr. Schmidt is now able to do just that. Mr. Schmidt’s story is providing hope to thousands of individuals whose disabilities and impairments had previously prevented them from driving a vehicle.
License to Drive Though Paralyzed
Because of his paralysis, Mr. Schmidt is not able to operate the accelerator, brake pedal, or steering wheel of a traditional automobile. With advances in technology, however, a specialized Corvette was created that would enable Mr. Schmidt to control the vehicle using only head movements. Nevada has allowed Mr. Schmidt to obtain a “driver’s” license that would enable him to operate the car on Nevada roadways, provided the following limitations are met:
- Schmidt must drive with a licensed driver in the passenger seat who is capable of taking control of the car in an emergency (Mr. Schmidt’s Corvette has a steering wheel and pedals on the passenger’s side of the vehicle);
- Schmidt is not permitted to drive on ice or snow;
- Schmidt must drive on Nevada roadways (the license is not yet recognized as valid by other states);
- Schmidt must follow a pilot car while driving (that is, there must be a second vehicle operated by a licensed driver who “leads” or “guides” Mr. Schmidt and his car);
Nevada has indicated that, in time, it will consider lifting some of these restrictions if it determines it is safe to do so.
Driving in Violation of Restrictions and Car Accident Lawsuits
Many individuals aside from Mr. Schmidt have one or more restrictions on their licenses. For example, many people must wear corrective lenses while driving because their ability to see things close up and/or see objects far away. Drivers who are young and/or inexperienced may be restricted to driving only when they are accompanied by a licensed driver, when they are driving to and from certain authorized locations, and/or during certain times of the day. Commercial drivers must meet certain requirements as well.
If a driver with a restricted license or a license with limitations imposed upon it is involved in a crash, does evidence that these restrictions or limitations were violated have any bearing? Potentially so, as many of these limitations are connected to a driver’s ability to safely operate a vehicle. If these limitations were made known to the driver with the restricted license and the driver willfully chose to drive in violation of these restrictions, this may be considered an unreasonable course of conduct that breaches the duty of care. How much impact a violation of these restrictions will have depends on the cause of the accident and whether any other person is responsible for the crash.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a car crash, contact Kansas car accident lawyer Michael R. Lawless right away. Kansas Car Accident Attorney Mr. Lawless’s investigation into your case will reveal whether the at-fault driver violated any restrictions placed on his or her license. In any event, Mr. Lawless will fight vigorously to assist you in obtaining full and fair compensation. Contact Michael R. Lawless today by calling (800) 734-3771.