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Car Accident Lawyer
Every year, more than 4 million Americans are injured or killed in car accidents. In most of these cases, finding fault is pretty straightforward: intoxication, rear-ending, negligence, etc. In these cases, the at-fault driver is held liable for the accident and the plaintiff is eligible to receive compensatory damages that could cover his or her medical bills. However, when the accident occurs because of a medical emergency, liability is more difficult to define.
In some cases, an accident is caused by a driver with a pre-existing medical condition that could potentially prohibit their motor vehicle operation. These could include:
- Poor eyesight
- Heart disease
- Sleep disorders
While some states may place limitations on those with these conditions, the restrictions usually depend on the severity of the disease or disorder. In other cases, the driver responsible for the accident has suffered from a previously undiagnosed condition.
What Is A “Sudden Medical Emergency Defense?”
In many states, the affected driver can be cleared of liability if the details of the accident fall under the “sudden medical emergency defense.” This defense states that any person suffering from a medical emergency from a previously undiagnosed condition was not acting negligently and, therefore, should not be held responsible for something outside of his control. There are three standard requirements to prove sudden medical emergency defense.
- The driver suddenly lost consciousness right before the accident.
- The sudden loss of consciousness resulted in the driver losing control of the vehicle.
- The sudden loss of consciousness was caused by a previously unforeseen medical condition.
If the driver is able to prove these three requirements, then he or she will most likely not be held liable for the events of the accident.
Who Is Held Liable?
If the at-fault driver is not held liable for the events of the accident, then who is financially responsible for covering any medical bills, lost wages, etc.? Unfortunately, the answer becomes a bit muddled for both parties involved. If the at-fault driver meets all requirements for a sudden medical emergency defense, then the court won’t hold him or her financially or legally responsible. This leaves both parties without any source of recovery when faced with startlingly high medical bills.
If you were involved in an accident and believe you meet all the requirements for the sudden medical emergency defense, then you should immediately contact both your insurance company and qualified physician to find out what went wrong and to clear yourself from any liability. If you were involved in an accident where the at-fault driver is claiming sudden medical emergency defense, then you should meet with a car accident lawyer, like a car accident lawyer in Woodland Hills, CA, to determine if you would be eligible for any damages.
Thanks to the law offices of Barry P. Goldberg for their insight into what happens if your car accident was caused by an unforeseen medical condition.