Over the last month, there have been two car accidents where drivers have lost control of their vehicle because of an alleged medical condition. The most recent crash happened on CR 466a and Morse Blvd. According to news reports, a driver of an SUV lost consciousness and jumped a curb and ran into two folks on a golf cart. Two folks were killed and one injured in the accident.
This fact scenario brings up the question – if a person has a medical emergency and causes an accident – is he/she responsible for the injuries?
Florida Loss of Consciousness/Sudden Medical Emergency Doctrine
From the injured person’s or family of a deceased’s point of view, that person did nothing to cause the accident and they were injured or lost their life – shouldn’t they be able to receive compensation?
From the driver’s point of view, they couldn’t control what happened and they should get a pass because they were not negligent.
Florida law addresses the issue and these types of cases turn on the legal issue of foreseeability. Florida courts have held that a driver is not negligent if he experiences a sudden attack and losses consciousness without a warning of his condition. The court’s say that if the person did not or should not have known about the condition which caused the medical problem, he is not responsible for the injuries. Specifically, the Florida Supreme Court said:
there is no negligence when an accident is caused by a sudden unforeseeable loss of consciousness.
How Do You Prove This Type Of Claim?
When investigating this type of case, the driver’s medical history and lifestyle becomes the focal point. It is important to look at the medical records and determine if there are underlying medical conditions that would have caused the medical condition.
For instance, a driver is diabetic and failed to control his/her diabetes and had prior occurrences of low blood sugar/hypoglycemia or blackouts, then a loss of consciousness would probably be considered foreseeable.
Because of these fact scenarios are medically intensive, it is important for a claimant to retain a lawyer who understands the medical issues involved.