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July 22, 1974

Accident Liability

JAMA. 1974;229(4):466. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230420078039

ACCIDENT liability is a broad term that includes all personal factors determining the occurrence of accidents. Included within this definition would be the effects of acute and chronic illness, the aging process, drugs, and accident proneness.

Accidents are often triggered by specific conditions such as darkness, heat, cold, haste, inexperience, noise, startle, and glare. Often, accidents are potentiated by the effects of alcohol, drugs, acute and chronic illness, and the degenerative changes of the aging process. Chronic illness, medications, depression, and the effects of the organic mental syndrome in later life lead to apathy and a sense of detachment from the environment, with lessened alertness, decreased selfcare, and an increased propensity to accidents.

Acute illness may also lead to accidents. In the aged, especially, a premonitory accident may commonly be the first manifestation of an acute disease, or an accident may occur shortly after clinical onset of a disease. Among