The Sudden Medical Emergency Defense in Personal Injury Claims

by Jill C.
(Greenbelt, MD)

If a sudden medical emergency causes a driver to lose control of his vehicle and have an accident which causes personal injury to another person, the injured person may not be able to recover his damages from that driver; this may be a defendable case. The sudden medical emergency defense in personal injury claims requires that the at-fault driver have no history of the medical condition that caused the accident. For instance, a diabetic that forgot to take his insulin, resulting in a loss of consciousness which caused him to cross the center line and strike another motorist head on does not have a sudden medical emergency defense. A driver who suffers an unforeseen heart attack that causes her to lose control of her vehicle and cross the center line, colliding with other vehicles, does have a sudden medical emergency defense.

Other scenarios exist. Prior medical records are the key to determining whether or not an accident is the result of a sudden medical emergency. If there is no evidence that the driver should have been aware that a medical emergency would occur, then there is no evidence that they were negligent. However, if the driver’s negligence brought about the emergency, such as the above scenario involving the diabetic, then he is responsible for the legal consequences of his actions and the sudden medical emergency defense will not apply.

This article is approved for informational purposes and is not intended to take the place of competent local legal counsel.

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