Car accidents can be caused by a variety of factors. A driver may be distracted, driving under the influence, acting in road rage, or simply driving recklessly. Such a driver may cause a crash resulting in property damage and injuries. However, in some cases, a driver might use the sudden medical emergency defense to avoid prosecution.
When it comes to car crash causes, most are simple in that they can be easily proved. This means that pinning the fault and blame is relatively easier. For instance, if a driver runs a red light and causes an accident, it’s easy to see that the driver is at fault. Similarly, if a driver is speeding and rear-ends a second vehicle, you can clearly show that the speeding driver was likely the negligent party.
However, there are instances where determining fault is not so straight-forward. This is particularly the case when the defendant uses the sudden medical emergency defense. Here is a look at what it is and how the defense works.
What is Sudden Medical Emergency Defense?
A sudden medical emergency is when a person has a medical episode that impairs their ability to function normally. In the context of car accidents, a sudden medical emergency is when a driver may suffer a heart stroke, heart attack, seizure, brief loss of consciousness, or another medical problem all of a sudden.
As a result of this sudden medical situation, the driver either loses consciousness or loses the ability to make a proper decision. If the driver then loses control of the vehicle and causes a crash, it can be argued that the driver was not actually negligent. Instead, it was the medical emergency that contributed to the accident. This is known as the sudden medical emergency defense, also known as the Act of God defense.
Georgia Laws Regarding Sudden Medical Emergency Defense
Georgia courts have accepted sudden medical emergency defense in a number of judgments passed over the years. In fact, Georgia allows this type of defense as a complete defense, when applicable, in negligence-based tort claims.
However, a number of legal requirements must be met if a driver wants to make use of this defense. The first of these is that the burden of proof is on the defendant who is using a sudden medical emergency defense. This means that if you use this defense in a court, you must be able to show with evidence that the medical emergency actually occurred, directly causing the crash.
You are not just required to show the absence of any other evidence substantiating your position. Instead, when using this defense, you must be able to produce positive evidence that affirms your defense.
Another important thing to consider when it comes to Georgia’s sudden medical emergency laws is whether or not the medical emergency was foreseeable. Below is a more detailed look at this element of the defense.
Foreseeability and Medical Emergency
If a medical emergency was foreseeable, it can be argued that you could have avoided it with proper precautions. For instance, if you are diagnosed with a medical condition that causes fainting fits, you know that you carry the risk of fainting on the wheel. If you still drive, then faint and cause a crash, it can be argued that this was foreseeable. A jury may then find you negligent and turn down the sudden medical emergency defense.
Similarly, if you are diabetic and a doctor told you that failure to monitor blood sugar levels can cause low blood pressure and fainting, you foresee the possibility. Then if you suffer the episode behind the wheel, you are likely to be held negligent.
For this reason, the medical history of the defendant is often the key to determine whether or not the medical emergency episode was foreseeable. If the episode was not foreseeable, the defense is likely to stand. As in many previous judgments across Georgia courts, the judge and the jury may accept the sudden medical emergency claim as a complete defense when positive proof is present and the emergency could not have been foreseen.
Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer in Atlanta, GA
If you have suffered a car accident in Atlanta, GA and the other driver is using a sudden medical emergency defense, you need expert legal help on your side. Here at Ted Greve & Associates, we will work with you to investigate this defense and see if the medical emergency actually occurred. We will also further investigate to see if the emergency was foreseeable. Our lawyers are experts in cross-examining medical emergency defense claims to ensure that you are not unfairly deprived of compensatory damages. Call us today to consult our lawyers for free.