Medical Emergencies and Automobile Accidents
Many times, car accidents are the result of negligence. Negligence stemming from an auto accident is often the result of human error and may be caused by distracted driving, speed, unsafe driving during hazardous weather conditions, or intoxication that results from abusing a legal or illegal substance. From time to time, an accident occurs after a driver suffers from a medical emergency. In these instances, victims of the accident are left wondering what to do.
When an accident occurs because of a medical emergency, a complex legal issue arises requiring the determination of whether negligence was involved. In these types of cases, it is important to speak with a lawyer. Insurance companies often reject any claims asserting that the party at fault cannot be held liable for damages. The assertion may or may not be accurate depending on the facts and circumstances of each case.
What is a Medical Emergency?
When defining a medical emergency relating to a motor vehicle accident, a medical emergency is any type of medical event that occurs and has a direct impact on the driver’s ability to control the vehicle. If the medical emergency places the driver in a position where he can no longer control the vehicle, the medical emergency defense may apply.
When does the Medical Emergency Defense Apply?
In Florida, the medical emergency defense applies to certain automobile accidents. However, it will likely be asserted in all cases involving a medical emergency. In the medical emergency defense is asserted and your claim is rejected, you will need to seek relief from the court. The court will only apply the medical emergency defense when:
- A defendant suffers from a loss of consciousness or loss of capacity which prohibits the individual to control a motor vehicle;
- The loss of consciousness or loss of capacity occurred before the negligent conduct causing the accident;
- The loss of consciousness or loss of capacity was sudden; and
- The loss of consciousness or loss of capacity was not and could not have reasonably been foreseen.
Proving a Medical Emergency Defense and its Limitations
The burden of proving a medical emergency defense is on the driver trying to claim the medical defense. However, the plaintiff’s attorney will conduct an investigation to determine whether the accident was really a surprise.
If the accident was something that could have been prevented, the medical emergency defense may not apply. The facts and circumstances of each case will determine whether the medical emergency defense will apply. For instance, take the following scenario:
Mark suffers from high blood pressure. Doctors have been monitoring Mark’s blood pressure for the last five years. At the beginning of the year, Mark’s doctor informed him that his pressure had rose to the point at which medication was necessary. Mark did not want to take medication; instead he inquired into whether continued monitoring was possible. The doctor indicated medication was a necessity given his concern regarding the possibility of a stroke.
Mark did not take his medication as prescribed. In fact, he had not taken the medication in three months. One day, while traveling home from work, Mark suffers a stroke and causes an accident. Two people are injured as a result.
Under these circumstances, the medical emergency defense will likely not apply. The only way to find out this information is to review the responsible party’s medical records and other relevant information to determine whether negligence was the true cause of the medical emergency.
Contact Us Today
If you have suffered damages as a result of an automobile accident, but your claim is being denied under the medical emergency defense, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. in Port St. Lucie today. We will investigate the claim to determine whether you are entitled to relief. If reasonable grounds exist, we will file a suit on your behalf.