Someone is driving on a Louisiana highway when that person abruptly loses consciousness and collides with another vehicle. The colliding driver later explains that he had suffered a heart attack and was not at fault for the accident. In this scenario, you might wonder if a court would accept this argument as valid. In some cases, courts do recognize such an argument, which is also known as a sudden medical emergency defense.
The Huffington Post explains that a sudden medical emergency defense is invoked when a person claims that a health condition that causes an accident is unforeseen. In other words, the person involved could not have known that he or she was at risk of developing the heart attack, seizure or other ailment that resulted in injury to another party. If a court accepts this argument, there is no party at fault and liability cannot be established.
A sudden medical emergency defense can still be challenged. The other party may claim that the colliding driver did possess some prior knowledge that he might develop whatever condition that caused the accident. By choosing to drive anyway, the driver willfully put others at risk by driving in an unhealthy state. This puts the driver on the hook for an act of negligence. Still, sometimes a judge will uphold a sudden medical emergency defense even if the driver had a known preexisting medical condition.
It is possible for a sudden medical emergency defense to fail if the driver knowingly violated health law requirements that would have forbidden the motorist to drive a vehicle. For instance, if a person has epilepsy, many states will not allow that individual to drive unless that person has not had a seizure for the past year. Some people that have experienced heart attacks will need a signed notice from a doctor ruling that they are fit to drive.
If you are on the road and struck by someone who invokes a sudden medical emergency defense, consultation with a knowledgeable motor vehicle accident attorney can be of vital help, especially if you do not understand Louisiana’s laws concerning health conditions that prohibit driving. Since car accidents can be caused by many different factors, you should not consider this article as legal advice, only as educational benefit.