Most car accidents are caused by driver negligence. The driver at fault can be held accountable for the losses he or she has caused. But what about a driver who is suddenly incapacitated and loses control of a vehicle? A motorist who suffered a heart attack or a seizure while driving may contend that he or she should be held blameless for the collision.
We have sympathy for anyone who suffers a medical emergency that leads to a car accident. But those harmed in a traffic accident have a right to demand that the at-fault driver either produce evidence that the accident was caused by an unavoidable medical emergency or pay compensation for the injuries caused in the crash.
The medical emergency defense in a car accident claim should always be put to the test. The burden is on the allegedly ill driver to show that a heart attack, seizure, stroke, or blackout while driving was an unforeseeable medical event that they had no opportunity to treat. If our personal injury attorneys can show that the driver had suffered previous episodes of loss of consciousness, we may prove the at-fault driver who caused your injuries was negligent.
A Las Vegas car accident attorney at Sam & Ash Injury Law can help you determine whether the driver who harmed you should be financially liable for your medical expenses and other losses. We’ll conduct an accident investigation and challenge a medical emergency defense from every angle possible. We will work to recover full compensation for you. We’ll stand up for your rights and fight for What’s Right for you.
How Is the Sudden Medical Emergency Defense Defined?
Many states allow drivers who suddenly lose control of their vehicles and crash into other vehicles or pedestrians to claim an “Act of God” or “sudden medical emergency” defense.
The Nevada Supreme Court established a sudden emergency doctrine in a case known as Posas v. Horton, 126 Nev. Adv. Op. 12 (2010). The Nevada ruling says a person confronted with a sudden emergency they didn’t cause that led to a crash is not negligent if they acted with their best judgment, even if their decision wasn’t the best one available, provided they acted as a reasonably prudent person would have when confronted with the same situation.
In general, a medical emergency defense means:
- The defendant suddenly lost consciousness while behind the wheel of a motor vehicle
- The loss of consciousness caused the driver to lose control of the vehicle, which led to the accident
- The loss of consciousness was caused by an unforeseeable medical emergency.
To mount such a defense, the defendant driver must be able to show that he or she unexpectedly lost consciousness and did not have a medical history of blackouts or seizures. This is normally demonstrated through medical records and/or a doctor’s testimony. The loss of consciousness must have occurred suddenly — without enough warning to pull over or take other steps to eliminate the danger posed by an unconscious driver.
Fighting the Medical Emergency Defense
If we were advised that a defendant in a car accident case was claiming a medical condition led to an unavoidable medical emergency, our attorneys would:
- Examine all evidence related to the accident and the driver’s activities for several hours before the event
- Review the defendant’s medical history
- Consult medical experts
- Interview any witnesses or other parties with knowledge of the accident and/or of the defendant’s alleged medical condition
The primary question when confronted with the medical emergency defense in a car accident claim is whether there was an emergency that was truly unforeseeable. We would want to know:
- Did the defendant follow up with medical treatment after the accident, and was the cause of their loss of consciousness diagnosed?
- Did the defendant know they were suffering from a medical condition that could lead to loss of consciousness or did they have a history of dizziness or passing out?
- Was the defendant following a prescribed treatment prior to the accident, such as taking medication to control a medical condition?
- Was the defendant restricted from driving but chose to do so anyway?
A medical emergency requires immediate treatment, which should be described in medical records. What did the doctor find? Certain medical conditions and medications are known to cause or lead to unconsciousness. What did the defendant know about their health, and when did they know it? Should the defendant have been driving at all?
If the driver had a history of heart problems, we would want to hear their doctor say whether the individual was healthy enough to drive. If the defendant had diabetes, we would want to know when the driver last ate before the accident. Did they pass out behind the wheel knowing they had not taken the necessary steps to avoid low blood sugar?
We would want to know what medications the driver was taking. There are several common medications that can cause fainting or passing out. These include medications to control blood pressure (antihypertensive drugs, diuretics, nitrates) and to regulate cardiac output (beta-blockers, digitalis, antiarrhythmics).
If an insurance company tells you that the driver who injured you in an accident suffered a sudden medical emergency, you need to speak to an experienced car accident lawyer right away.
Contact an Auto Accident Attorney in Las Vegas
At Sam & Ash Injury Law, we’ll help you fight back if the driver who hit you in the Las Vegas area claims it was not their fault. We’ll examine the medical record and question all claims made to escape accountability. We’ll put you and your needs first and build a strong case for the full compensation you need after a serious accident.
Contact Sam & Ash in Las Vegas for a free initial consultation today. We don’t charge a fee in car accident injury cases until we recover compensation for you. Call us now.