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Car Accidents Are a Real Danger for Those with Undiagnosed Focal Epilepsy

For people with undiagnosed focal epilepsy, the possibility of having a subtle seizure while driving is a very real and dangerous one. These seizures could happen at any time and are characterized by intense moments of déjà vu or hallucinations, according to MedPage Today. But because these seizures are not similar to those experienced by other epileptics, those suffering from subtle seizures may not realize they have epilepsy. Because of this, focal epilepsy sometimes takes years to diagnose. Doctors believe that in that gap between the first seizure and diagnosis, the potential for serious car accidents occurring is a danger for the whole community.

Johns Hopkins calls focal epilepsy a brain condition that only affects one half of the brain at a time. It can affect the frontal, temporal, parietal, or occipital lobe. The intensity and consequences of the seizure depend on which lobe exhibits it. However, subtle seizures are not as noticeably and physically disruptive as motor seizures. For people who experience subtle seizures, the time between their first seizure and diagnosis averages to about 600 days. For those who suffer from motor seizures, that gap closes to about 60 days.

Subtle seizures are dangerous because they can affect a person’s ability to operate a moving vehicle. People suffering from focal epilepsy may or may not lose consciousness during one of these seizures. Symptoms of a subtle seizure with impaired awareness are:

  • Loss of consciousness or awareness
  • Being unresponsive to your environment
  • Staring into space
  • Performing repetitive movements such as walking in circles, chewing, swallowing

Symptoms of a subtle seizure without a loss of consciousness include:

  • Involuntarily jerking a body part
  • Experiencing spontaneous tingling, seeing flashing lights, or feeling dizzy
  • Experiencing a change in taste, smell, or sound

Losing consciousness, being unable to respond appropriately and quickly to your surroundings, staring into space, or making movements involuntarily are all dangerous when driving a car. But if a person does not have the other standard hallmarks of epilepsy, it could be mistaken for a number of other illnesses.

Treatment for epilepsy varies depending on the severity of a person’s condition, but doctors will often start by prescribing anticonvulsant medications to reduce the severity of these episodes. It is considered a medical emergency if a seizure lasts more than five minutes. If you stop breathing, have a high fever, experience heat exhaustion, or are pregnant during a seizure, you should seek immediate medical attention.

Contact a New York Injury Attorney

If you were injured in a car accident that was caused by someone else, you may be entitled to compensation. Call the New York City car accident attorneys at Hach & Rose, LLP to see how much your case might be worth. Our number is (212) 779-0057.


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