Medical emergencies can happen any time, any place—including when someone is driving. While accidents caused by medical emergencies are relatively rare, they can cause serious damage and injury.
Car accident cases usually proceed on a theory of negligence. The liability rests with the person or people who acted negligently. Truly unprecedented medical events are not negligent. If, however, the driver knew of the possibility, there may be a way to hold them responsible.
The sudden medical emergency defense
Florida recognizes the sudden medical emergency defense. If the emergency was truly unforeseeable, they did not act negligently. To prove negligence, a plaintiff must show:
- The defendant had a duty of care to the plaintiff;
- The defendant breached that duty;
- The breach caused the plaintiff harm; and
- The plaintiff suffered actual damages.
To show that an unforeseen medical emergency caused the accident, a defendant must prove:
- They suddenly lost consciousness, before the accident happened;
- That loss of consciousness caused the driver to lose control of the vehicle; and
- The loss of consciousness was caused by an unforeseeable medical emergency.
Typically, the defense hinges on how sudden the accident was, and whether it was truly unforeseeable. For example, if the driver experienced symptoms before the accident, yet refused to pull over, they may be responsible. Furthermore, the medical emergency has to be truly unforeseeable. If they have suffered sudden loss of consciousness before, were cautioned by their doctor not to drive or otherwise had reason to believe they could lose control, they may not be able to use the sudden medical emergency defense.
If you’ve had an accident where the driver claims they had a sudden medical emergency, it’s important to talk to a lawyer. The knowledgeable Sarasota, FL auto accident lawyers at Goldman, Babboni, Fernandez, Murphy & Walsh are standing by to help.