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Medical Emergencies While Driving

Medical Emergencies While Driving

What happens if a driver experiences a sudden emergency, medical or otherwise, and then causes a crash?

As a Los Angeles attorney who’s handled many different accident scenarios, I can report that the sudden emergency doctrine is a complicated one and is highly fact intensive.

The elements of a sudden emergency defense are found in CACI (civil jury instructions) 452:

“Defendant claims that he/she was not negligent because he/she acted with reasonable care in an emergency situation.  Defendant was not negligent if he/she proves all of the following:

  1. That there was a sudden and unexpected emergency situation in which someone was in actual or apparent danger of immediate injury;
  2. That Defendant did not cause the emergency; and
  3. That Defendant acted as a reasonably careful person would have acted in similar circumstances, even if it appears later that a different course of action would have been safer.”

The sudden emergency doctrine is only applicable where an unexpected physical danger is so suddenly presented as to deprive the Defendant of his power of using reasonable judgment. (Sadoian v. Modesto Refrigerating Co., (1958) 157 Cal.App.2d 266.)  The doctrine does not apply to a person whose conduct causes or contributes to the imminent peril. (Pittman v. Boiven (1967) 249 Cal.App.2d 207.)

These cases are highly fact intensive.  For example, say someone has a heart attack while driving and then causes a crash.  Did the attack arise suddenly, out of nowhere? Did the driver have a history of heart trouble before causing the collision? Was he/she taking heart medication? Did the driver experience heart attack symptoms prior to getting behind the wheel?

These are some of the questions that need to be asked.  It’s a sensitive subject, and one that an experienced Los Angeles car accident attorney should know how to approach.

Stay safe! For questions about your sudden medical emergency while driving case, the Rabbi Lawyer is ready to assist, 24/6.