Texas is a fault-based car insurance state, meaning that you must determine who is at fault for your car accident before filing an insurance claim. If another driver broke a roadway rule and caused an accident, his or her fault may seem apparent. If a medical condition caused the crash, however, such as a seizure or heart attack, fault is more difficult to assign. You may need a Dallas car accident attorney to help you establish fault during this type of case.
Liability for a car accident caused by a medical condition comes down to one main question: did the driver know about the medical condition? If the answer is yes, then he or she had constructive knowledge of the potential for a car accident and can be held liable for the collision. If the answer is no, the driver may be able to use the sudden medical emergency defense to avoid liability. This defense states that the driver had no knowledge of or reason to know about an undiagnosed medical condition and that the dangerous event was completely unforeseeable.
With the sudden medical emergency defense, the driver may be able to avoid liability for your car accident entirely. This means you will lose that driver’s insurance as an option for coverage for your medical bills and property repairs. In this scenario, you would need to rely on your own auto insurance policy for reimbursement instead.
The other driver will need to prove the sudden medical emergency defense to establish that the loss of consciousness or capacity occurred without any warning while driving. The other driver (or his or her attorney) will also need to show that the medical emergency made it impossible for the defendant to pull over in a safe location before the collision. This will require an in-depth understanding of the medical condition.
If there is evidence that the driver knew about the medical condition that caused the car accident, such as an official diagnosis of diabetes, a heart condition or epilepsy from a physician in the driver’s medical records, the driver may be unable to use the sudden medical emergency defense because he or she reasonably should have foreseen the dangerous event.
In this case, the driver could still be financially responsible for the car accident despite the medical emergency because he or she should have known not to drive. Another form of proof that the condition was pre-existing is a restriction on the person’s driver’s license, such as being prohibited to drive at night due to poor eyesight. If the other driver was ignoring his or her license restrictions, this is evidence of fault.
If an investigation finds that the car accident was caused by the side effects of a medication that the other driver was taking for a medical condition, the driver could be at fault for the collision. All prescription and over-the-counter medications come with lists of potential side effects.
If the driver reasonably should have known that a medication that he or she was taking could lead to side effects that make it dangerous to operate heavy machinery, such as drowsiness, dizziness or confusion, the driver will be legally responsible for a related crash. It is a driver’s responsibility to understand the drugs he or she is taking and to avoid driving at dangerous times.
If you have been injured in a car accident involving a driver who experienced a medical emergency behind the wheel, contact an attorney for legal advice right away. An attorney may recommend legal representation in a case involving a complication such as a medical condition, medications or the sudden medical emergency defense. You may need a lawyer’s help to prove that the other driver is liable for your losses.