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Who Is Liable For an Accident Experience During a Medical Emergency?

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Car accidents occur all the time, and they can cause property damage, injuries, and even death.  Crashes can be the result of a variety of factors, including negligent drivers, poorly maintained roads, or defective vehicle components.  However, what if the car accident was the result of an unforeseen and sudden medical emergency that a driver suffered while driving?  By asserting a sudden medical emergency defense, a driver might be relieved of negligence or any personal injury claims filed by other parties to the accident.

The basis for the sudden medical emergency defense is that if someone suffers an unforeseen medical emergency while behind the wheel, they are not behaving negligently.  If a car crash occurs, and a driver successfully asserts the defense, they will not be held liable since the accident was the result of something not within the control of the driver.  However, to claim that a medical emergency occurred, the driver must be able to provide proof that it actually happened, such as establishing that:

  • They lost consciousness right before the accident;
  • The driver lost control of their vehicle because they passed out; and
  • The lost consciousness was the result of an unforeseeable medical emergency.

Unlike driving drunk or under the influence of drugs, sudden medical emergencies will oftentimes render a driver unconscious and unable to exercise control over the accident.  However, if a driver was experiencing medical symptoms while driving and ignored them before the crash occurred, the medical emergency will not be considered sudden.

Drivers asserting the defense must also establish that the medical emergency was not foreseeable.  If a driver does not have a medical history of seizures or heart problems, but they suffer an episode while driving, it can be possible to claim the defense.  But if the driver does have a history of seizures or heart problems, then the defense can be rejected based on the fact that the medical problem was reasonably foreseeable.

New York No Fault Insurance

New York recognizes the sudden medical emergency defense.  If a driver experiences a sudden medical emergency, they will not be liable, or chargeable with negligence as long as the medical emergency was unforeseen.  While New York is a no fault insurance state where each driver’s motor vehicle insurance typically covers any injuries sustained no matter who might have caused the accident, the defense can come into play in the event that another individual involved in the accident files a personal injury claim against your for compensation beyond their no fault coverage.

Call A Long Island Car Accident Attorney

If you have been involved in a car accident in New York, and you believe it is the result of a sudden medical emergency, be sure to consult with an experienced and knowledgeable Long Island personal injury attorney at the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP by calling (516) 358-6900.  At the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, our concern is your right to receive full and fair compensation. We are available 24/7 so don’t hesitate to contact us at any time, day or night.

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