When cars collide in a Florida car accident, one driver or the other, or even both may be at fault for causing the crash. However, in rare situations, a medical emergency could be to blame. A driver who suffered a medical emergency can avoid liability.
The sudden medical emergency defense is applied when a driver is affected by an unanticipated medical issue outside their control. In other words, the doctrine states that the driver cannot be considered negligent.
Sudden Medical Emergency Defense for a Florida Car Accident:
Florida law recognizes the sudden medical emergency defense in certain situations. To explain further, if a sudden and unforeseen medical emergency harms a driver, they are not responsible for responding reasonably to avoid a crash. This means that they cannot be held accountable for the damages caused by the Florida car accident.
However, as simple and straightforward as it sounds, this defense has more detail.
When Is a Sudden Medical Emergency Genuine?
The burden to prove their condition falls on the driver who claims a sudden medical emergency. The driver is responsible for establishing the following three elements:
- They became suddenly debilitated prior to the collision
- As a result of becoming debilitated, the driver lost control of the vehicle
- The debilitation and loss of control were because of the sudden medical emergency
The Sudden Emergency Doctrine in Florida:
According to the sudden emergency doctrine, the four requirements that are necessary to support a defense include:
- The driver suddenly lost consciousness or became incapacitated
- The loss of consciousness happened before the act of negligence (ex: running a red light)
- The loss of consciousness must have been sudden
- The loss of consciousness was not foreseen, or foreseeable
This last point means that if a doctor warns someone not to drive because they could suffer a heart attack, the person can’t use the sudden medical emergency defense.
Common Medical Emergencies that May Debilitate a Driver:
There can be several medical emergencies that could legitimately incapacitate a driver, rendering them unconscious, such as:
- Brain aneurism
- Fainting or blacking out
- Heart attack
How Can a Medical Emergency Be Foreseeable?
Even though sudden medical emergencies do happen, an at-fault driver could also be falsely claiming this defense to try to avoid paying for the damages they have caused. A sudden medical emergency is only unanticipated if the driver proves that they had no reasonable expectation of becoming medically incapacitated. If they should have known about the potential risk, then they could be held liable.
For instance, a driver having a preexisting history of seizures could be held responsible if they:
- Are not continually following up with the doctor for ongoing care
- Are neglecting to follow prescribed treatment, such as taking medication for controlling the seizures
- Have been restricted from driving, yet got behind the wheel anyway
If you have a reliable attorney on your side, they will greatly benefit you as they can review claims made by the at-fault driver to determine their merit and counter these claims.
Evidence That Can Help Establish Liability:
To help you determine liability, your attorney will investigate whether the other driver is legitimately claiming a sudden medical emergency. This would require:
- Examining the medical records of the at-fault driver
- Determining the driver’s preexisting medical condition and whether it was being treated
- Finding if the driver was regularly following their prescribed plan of care
- Learning if the doctor had restricted the driver from driving because of their medical condition
In the situation of a medical emergency, the crash could still be considered foreseeable if the driver was having chest pains but they ignored them instead of pulling over. In such instances, they will be liable for the crash.
How Can an Experienced Attorney Help You in Such a Situation?
Having a winning lawyer on your side who can represent your case and help you get your rightful compensation is what you may be needing after getting injured by the at-fault driver.
Your attorney will ensure if a sudden medical emergency caused the car accident or the at-fault driver avoids their responsibility.
To get a free consultation and learn more about your case, feel free to call our office to schedule a case review. At Florida Lawyers 360, we are looking forward to reviewing your case and helping you get your rightful Florida car accident compensation.