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How To Establish Fault If A Car Accident Was Caused By A Sudden Medical Emergency In Arizona?

Posted by Jess A. Lorona | Sep 29, 2018 | 0 Comments

Car Accident Attorney

In the vast majority of motor vehicle crashes, establishing fault is not that difficult if you are represented by a Phoenix car accident attorney. One of the parties exceeded the speed limit, ran a red light, was intoxicated, or failed to stop his/her vehicle in time and rear-ended another vehicle… These situations repeat themselves more often than you think.

But who can be held liable when one of the drivers suffers a medical emergency before crashing into another vehicle? In that situation, establishing liability is quite complicated.

What is the ‘sudden medical emergency' defense in Arizona?

In Arizona and other states in our nation, courts recognize the “sudden medical emergency” defense, which makes a driver immune from liability if they suffered a sudden and unforeseeable medical emergency that led to a car crash.

Under Arizona law, in order to hold someone liable in a car accident, the other party must prove that this someone was negligent and that his or her negligence caused or contributed to the accident. But what happens in situations when a driver suffers a sudden medical emergency (and, therefore, has not acted negligently)?

Legal requirements for the ‘sudden medical emergency' defense

Do not be under the impression that any at-fault driver can claim the “sudden medical emergency” defense out of the blue just to escape liability after a car crash. In fact, Arizona has very strict requirements when it comes to determining whether or not a party's “sudden medical emergency” defense can be accepted.

In order to prove that you have suffered a sudden medical emergency in a car accident, you have the burden of proof to show that:

  • You suddenly lost consciousness or for any other reason could not operate the vehicle due to a sudden medical emergency prior to the crash;
  • The loss of consciousness or any other medical emergency caused you to lose control of the car; and
  • The medical emergency was sudden and unforeseeable (you had no prior history with this condition and your doctor had never warned you against driving).

The suddenness and foreseeability of a medical emergency

While it may seem that just about anybody can be off the hook by using the “sudden medical emergency” defense, it is not entirely true. Our experienced car accident attorney in Phoenix at Lorona Mead explains that in order to establish the suddenness of his or her medical emergency before the accident, a driver will have to prove that he/she had no opportunity to mitigate the medical emergency or avoid the crash with a prudent course of action.

If the driver experiences symptoms indicating the beginning of the medical emergency (beginning to lose consciousness), he or she is required to pull over rather than continue to drive and put himself/herself and those around him/her in danger.

“In other words,” our Phoenix car accident attorney explains, “If the symptoms were ignored by the driver for an unreasonable amount of time and the driver failed to take proactive actions to avoid the crash, the medical emergency cannot be recognized as ‘sudden'.”

What if the driver had been instructed NOT to drive?

Also, a driver mounting the “sudden medical emergency” defense in a car accident case has to prove that he or she could not have foreseen the medical emergency. Therefore, if the driver had a prior history of heart issues or any other health problems associated with the medical emergency and/or had been instructed by doctors not to drive, that driver will most likely not be able to assert this defense.

If you have been injured in an accident involving a sudden medical emergency, do not hesitate to speak to our experienced lawyers at Lorona Mead. Call our offices at 602-385-6825 (for existing clients) or 602-554-0006 (for new clients). Get a free consultation today.

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Jess A. Lorona



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