If you are acting as an agent under a Healthcare Durable Power of Attorney (DPA) or Advanced Health Care Directive (AHCD), you should note the following ALERT.

You could be a target as a Defendant in a lawsuit should you fail to notify the DMV of your principal’s inability to properly operate a vehicle due to his/her physical restraints or dementia symptoms, although there is no California statutory law to require this action except for doctors.

Although, a doctor in Orange County escaped liability for failure to notify the DMV to have his patient’s driving ability reexamined, he had to withstand the costs and stress of a lawsuit. His 85 years-old dementia patient was responsible for an auto accident which killed her long-time partner. The doctor was sued for wrongful death on the basis that California law requires doctors to notify the DMV if the patient has a disorder which includes “lapses of consciousness.”

The concern raised by cases like this is that children/spouses of physically limited individuals or people who have dementia issues, could conceivably be a lawsuit target if they are acting as agents in an AHCD with knowledge of the individual’s limitations or illness. In this lawsuit crazy society, it would be prudent to intervene if such is the case and remove the ability of such person to drive or file a notice with the DMV, Form DS 699, Request For Driver Reexamination, if the spouse/parent persists in driving. This is especially true if the spouse/parent refuses regular doctors visits and/or psychological testing for dementia.

If this is a concern and you are designated as an agent in an AHCD, execute a conditional provision of acceptance to protect yourself from potential personal liability.