Figuring out liability for a car accident caused by a driver suffering a medical condition is easy if your insurance is a no-fault policy (available in about dozen states), especially if there aren’t a great deal of expenses incurred. If you are not seriously injured, and expenses acquired as a result of the accident don’t keep adding up, it shouldn’t be a complicated matter: each driver’s insurance company will pay a certain amount regardless of who is at fault.
The problems begin when the insurance is not a no-fault policy, and/or injury comes into play. Insurance policies, regardless of the type, might not cover the extensive costs that a serious accident may incur, so knowing the facts about car accidents caused by medical conditions is of the utmost importance.
Can a Medical Condition That Causes an Accident Excuse a Driver from Liability?
In most states, drivers who suffer from a sudden and unforeseen medical emergency are not liable for damages. According to law in most states, a driver who falls victim to this type of medical emergency is not guilty of negligence, and is entitled to a “sudden medical emergency” defense.
Although conditions vary from state to state, at-fault drivers would need to prove that they lost consciousness prior to the accident, that they lost control of the vehicle due to the loss of consciousness, and that it was an unforeseen medical emergency that caused the driver to lose consciousness. A successful sudden medical emergency defense could result in the at-fault driver being relieved of any and all property damage and medical damage liability. The other driver, thus, is stuck with the deductible and any cost that exceeds what the related insurance policy covers. Any lawsuit or insurance claim in these matters is negated. A driver with such a serious and sudden medical condition could not be held legally accountable.
What Determines If a Medical Emergency is Unforeseeable?
“Foreseeability” is a legal concept used to establish whether or not the at-fault driver could have anticipated that an action or circumstance would cause another driver to suffer injury. It would be reasonable to assume that no person with a sudden medical emergency can be held liable for the injury of another person if it is proven that the injury occurred as a result of an act that didn’t arise from negligence. Negligence must be proven.
Proving foreseeability is complex. The driver’s own words could cause the case to falter. If there is an admittance that there was dizziness or blurred vision experienced for a few moments before becoming faint, the claim of a sudden medical emergency could fall apart. This might show that the driver had a reasonable amount of time to pull off the road but chose instead to continue, putting other drivers and vehicles at risk. However, losing consciousness with no prior warning could prove the case and would negate liability.
Another thing to consider is whether or not the driver suffering the medical condition has a medical condition or has had a medical condition that serves as a warning sign. For instance, previously blacking out from high blood pressure would count as a warning sign, and could be counted as “foreseeable.” Failing to take proper precautions for an existing medical condition is negligence.
A record of heart problems or diabetes could be used to show negligence if the at-fault driver lost consciousness due to either a heart attack or a failure to eat that resulted in low blood sugar. Attending to medical conditions is also important in any liability case. Failing to show up to appointments or take necessary medications is considered negligent as it might have prevented the emergency medical condition, or may suggest that the driver knew they shouldn’t have been driving in the first place.
Burlington County Car Accident Attorneys at the Law Office of David S. Rochman Pursue Claims for Drivers When a Medical Emergency Caused an Accident.
The process of filing a claim for an injury suffered from a car accident is complicated. For competent legal help regarding accidents due to a medical emergency, speak with our Burlington County car accident attorneys at the Law Office of David S. Rochman. For a free consultation, call the office at 856-619-7729 or contact us online. Located in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout Burlington County and the surrounding areas.