What Happens When A Medical Condition Leads To A Car Accident?
There are many factors that can lead to a car accident, including vehicle defects, distracted driving, impaired drivers, and unexpected events. However, what happens when a driver who had no knowledge of a medical condition experiences an episode or attack that causes an accident?
On a clear day, with no road hazards present, a car loses control and impacts another vehicle. In the investigation that follows, it is discovered that the driver had a seizure from a previously undiagnosed medical condition. The analysis of whether or not the driver is responsible for the harm that he caused is not straight forward. Proving responsibility is the biggest hurdle in an accident case where a medical condition either caused or contributed to the harm done.
There are two different scenarios when a driver had a medical condition: first, the driver was completely unaware of the situation and had no reason to suspect that something bad could happen when he drove; and, second, the driver knew or should have known about the condition and potential for harm and not been driving the vehicle on the day of the accident. If there was no prior knowledge, then the driver can use this as a defense against liability.
If the driver knew or should have known about the diagnosis of a medical condition, then he or she will be responsible for any injuries that resulted from an accident. Even if the driver had never experienced any seizures or loss of consciousness while driving, or at any other time, there is constructive knowledge of the potential for a dangerous event if the driver has been diagnosed with specific ailments, including diabetes, epilepsy, heart conditions, and other medical conditions that are known to cause incapacitation or complete loss of consciousness.
If the driver was not aware of any propensity for incapacitation and was involved in an accident, he or she may assert the sudden medical emergency defense, whereby he attempts to avoid any liability. This defense is premised on the fact that the accident and its underlying cause could not have been foreseen. In order to use the sudden medical emergency defense, the defendant will need to show:
- The loss of capacity of consciousness occurred without any warning or ability to react to prevent the accident;
- The loss of consciousness or capacity resulted from an unknown medical condition and the resulting medical emergency was completely unforeseeable; and
- The accident was the result of the medical emergency because it caused the driver to lose control of the vehicle.
The attorney representing the injured party will need to present evidence to refute this, effectively using medical records and evidence obtained through a comprehensive investigation to demonstrate that the driver was aware of the possibility that his driving could be compromised by a medical emergency. One of the critical elements of this defense that a victim's attorney will need to challenge is that it was impossible for the defendant to regain control of the car or get to a safe location before the impact. Many medical emergencies involve some time before complete loss of control. In order to properly bring a case against a defendant asserting this type of defense, the personal injury attorney representing the victim will need to have a thorough understanding of medicine and the relevant symptoms and reactions. Medical experts will play a critical role in this type of litigation. In addition, likely an investigator will need to be hired to discover if there is any proof of prior accidents or accommodations that would only be in place if the defendant had knowledge of the medical condition.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident caused by another person who now claims that an undiagnosed medical condition led to the collision then you need experienced personal injury attorneys who know how to overcome a sudden medical emergency defense. The attorneys at Goeing Goeing and McQuinn PLLC have the expertise to get you the recovery that you deserve. In order to discuss the specifics of your case during a free car accident consultationat our Lexington Kentucky office, please call us or complete and online contact form.