Medical emergencies are unforeseen events that can unfortunately happen to anyone at any time – even when you’re operating a motor vehicle. If a medical emergency occurs while driving, it can lead to a car accident with another vehicle, pedestrian, or cyclist. So, who is liable when someone is injured during such an emergency?
Understanding the Elements of Liability
To determine liability in a medical emergency-related car accident, you must consider:
Did Negligence Occur?
Liability in a car accident depends on whether or not any party involved in the accident acted in a negligent manner. If the driver who suffered a medical emergency at the time of the accident had prior knowledge of a medical condition and understood that it could impair his or her ability to drive safely, then the insurance company may find that the driver acted negligently by getting behind the wheel.
Was The Condition Foreseeable?
In some cases, a medical emergency is not foreseeable and is therefore considered to be an “act of God.”
Let’s say, for example, that a 50-year-old man with no documented underlying health conditions suffers a heart attack behind the wheel and strikes another driver’s car in traffic. The man may not be held liable for the resulting injuries to the other driver if it can be proven that there was no indication he was at risk for a heart attack, and the accident was therefore unforeseeable.
Do Drivers Have A Duty of Care To Other Drivers?
Any driver has a legal obligation to operate their vehicle safely and responsibly. Suppose a driver has a known medical condition that may compromise his or her ability to drive. In that case, the driver has a duty to other drivers to take reasonable measures to prevent an accident from potentially occurring. If a driver believes he or she may have a condition that could cause a medical emergency while driving, the following may fall under the driver’s duty of care:
Consulting With A Medical Professional or Specialist: Drivers with known medical conditions, and even those without, should check in with their medical providers regularly to assess for any condition updates that could impair their ability to drive.
Following Medical Advice: If a healthcare provider recommends against driving due to a medical condition, or even due to a prescription a driver is taking, then the driver has a duty to follow this advice.
Self-Regulation: Drivers are responsible for checking in on their own physical and mental well-being. If they are experiencing symptoms that may impair their driving ability, they should take appropriate action like pulling over if on the road, and seeking medical care where necessary.
What To Do After A Car Accident With Someone Who Suffered A Medical Emergency
Experiencing a car accident with someone who has just suffered a medical emergency can be a frightening and disorienting situation. It’s essential to respond quickly and calmly to ensure your safety, and others’ safety, and that all facts of the accident are documented correctly.
Ensure The Safety Of Yourself and Others
Immediately after an accident, get yourself and your vehicle to a safe spot if possible. Check yourself and/or your passengers for any injuries and make sure you are clear to check on anyone else at the scene.
If it’s been assessed that the other driver is suffering a medical emergency or there are injuries at the scene, call 911 to have a police officer and ambulance report to the scene. The police officers will be able to complete a police report for the accident, and the EMTs on the scene will provide necessary medical care for those in need.
Document The Scene
If you are able to, take photos and videos of the accident scene including any damages to the vehicles, the weather conditions, notable markers of where the accident occurred, and any visible injuries anyone has sustained.
Get Driver Information and Insurance
If the driver who suffered a medical emergency is alert and responsive at the accident scene, exchange insurance information with them, as this will be necessary for you to file a claim. If the driver is not responsive and unable to exchange insurance information, this will be available on the police report.
Collect Witness Information
Your insurance company may ask if there were any witnesses to the accident to help solidify your claim, so get the name and contact information of any credible witnesses to the crash.
Seek Follow-Up Medical Attention
Even if you feel you were not injured in the accident, it is still advisable to seek a medical evaluation. Your doctor will be able to assess any injuries you’ve sustained and recommend a treatment plan if they believe it is necessary.
Consult With A Legal Professional
Depending on the circumstances of your accident and the severity of the injuries you incurred, you may opt to seek the advice of a trusted car accident attorney to retrieve a fair settlement for your injuries and related medical expenses.
Involved In A Medical Emergency-Related Car Crash? Call Cellino.
Determining liability in a medical emergency-related car accident can be a complex legal matter that often requires a detailed examination of the circumstances surrounding the accident. As an experienced and well-trusted personal injury firm, we have the resources necessary to conduct an investigation to determine who is liable for the accident and any resulting injuries.
Content checked by the personal injury attorney Ross Cellino. As a family man and a trial attorney, I pride myself on winning cases and serving the community. With over 35 years of experience, I understand the function of a jury, how juries arrive at conclusions, and the role that the jury plays in administering justice. I know how to win cases. You can find us in Manhattan, Buffalo, Melville, Rochester, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens and other locations throughout New York.
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