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Car Accident Caused by a Medical Emergency


model car with stethoscope

Medical conditions make it much harder to drive safely. In fact, one study out of California in the 1960s showed that drivers with certain medical conditions were twice as likely to be involved in a car wreck when compared to a healthy control group. We think of most accidents as being caused by a failure to use reasonable care, called negligence. Think speeding

 motorists, tailgaters, or people who pass illegally. But medical conditions are also a substantial contributor to wrecks out on the road, and they often make it harder for victims to make personal injury claims.

If you were involved in an accident because of a medical condition, you should reach out to an attorney. Depending on the facts, you might qualify for compensation to cover your expenses. Our Car Accident Attorney goes into greater depth below.

Driving might be second nature to someone who has had a license for a few years, but quite a bit goes into driving safely. For example, a motorist must see and hear clearly so that they can avoid pedestrians and other motorists. They also need full coordination and dexterity to move the wheel properly and step on the brakes or gas. Finally, motorists must be able to think clearly so they can make split-second decisions that reduce the risks of a wreck.

What Should You Do if You Are in an Accident Because of a Medical Condition?

Many medical conditions make it harder to drive safely. For this reason, Nevada can limit the ability of someone to drive for certain medical reason

s. If your vision is impaired, for example, then your license might be restricted to only daylight driving. Depending on physical disability, you might have a left foot accelerator or be required to take a driving test every six months.

Many medical conditions will require a doctor’s clearance that it is safe for you to drive. This clearance is required, for example, if you have suffered unconsciousness due to a medical condition like diabetes within the last three years. Driving is a privilege, not a right, and the state wants to ensure that drivers are sufficiently healthy to drive safely. See Nevada Administrative Code section 483.330 for a list of conditions when applying for or renewing a driver’s license.

Female driver with headache holding head

Sudden Medical Emergencies

Some accidents are caused by unexpected medical emergencies. These aren’t conditions you have been living with for a while. Instead, you face an unforeseen medical crisis which could lead to a loss of consciousness or other impairment.

Some of the more common medical emergencies include:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Brain aneurysm
  • Blackout
  • Seizure

These crises can strike suddenly and without warning, making it all but impossible to drive safely. Under Nevada law, a sudden medical emergency is a defense to a car accident case if the following apply:

  • The driver isn’t responsible for their sudden medical emergency. For example, someone can’t shoot up heroin while driving and then use blacking out as a defense.
  • The medical emergency wasn’t foreseeable or avoidable. If the driver had this crisis before, they shouldn’t have driven, or they should have received proper treatment.
  • The driver operated the car with reasonable care given the emergency. Someone feeling lightheaded should slow down or pull over. They can’t keep driving until they black out.
  • The sudden medical emergency caused the accident. Someone might have a heart attack after the wreck, but that wouldn’t make it the cause of the crash.

What You Should Do if You Had a Sudden Medical Emergency

Obviously, the most critical step following a crash is to receive medical treatment. This serves several purposes. You improve the odds of recovering from your medical crisis. But it also helps document that you suffered a medical emergency in the first place.

To raise the medical emergency defense, you will need to prove a medical emergency caused you to lose control of the vehicle or otherwise lead to the crash. Don’t expect a judge to take your word for it. You can use your medical report or doctor’s testimony to establish that a medical condition is to blame for the crash—not careless driving.

What Victims of These Accidents Should Do

Let’s say you’re driving through an intersection when a car plows into you. This is a shocking event. However, you aren’t too badly hurt, so you get out of the vehicle to speak with the other driver. What you see surprises you. The driver of the other vehicle is leaning back in his seat, clutching his chest and in obvious distress.

The other driver wasn’t reckless. They probably had a sudden medical emergency. You should immediately do the following:

  • Call an ambulance. It might be possible to save a person’s life. You also have a legal duty to try and get care for someone who was involved in a crash.
  • Stay at the scene until the ambulance and police arrive. You will benefit from a police report, which will document what happened.
  • Take pictures and speak to witnesses. Other people might have seen the driver in distress and they can provide helpful testimony.
  • Keep records of losses associated with the accident. Most important are holding onto medical bills, pay stubs, and car repair bills.

Receiving Compensation following an Accident Caused by Medical Condition

Receiving compensation is sometimes possible. However, the process is different depending on whether you were the one having the medical crisis or whether you were the victim of the crash.

As a victim of the car accident:

You can make a claim on the driver’s insurance. It’s up to them to raise the sudden medical emergency doctrine as a defense. They will also have to satisfy all conditions listed above, such as proving that the medical emergency was unforeseeable.

You might also be able to sue the driver’s doctor, especially if they gave premature medical clearance to drive. They might also have failed to explain the medical condition adequately to the driver.

In other cases, you might use your medical payments coverage (Med Pay) to cover the costs of medical care. This is no-fault insurance that can pay a health insurance deductible or pay a provider directly for care.

As the person suffering a medical condition:

You are more limited in receiving compensation. Although you aren’t legally at fault for the crash, neither is the other driver. You cannot sue someone who wasn’t negligent. However, you might rely on Med Pay benefits for your medical care needs and collision coverage to cover the cost of car repairs.

Legal Assistance with Your Claim

Accidents involving medical conditions are in some ways more complicated than typical car crashes. For one, more medical evidence is submitted. In the typical car crash, only the victim who suffered injuries submits medical records. But if the driver who caused the crash claims a sudden medical emergency, they need to come forward with evidence.

Anyone involved in this crash should use an experienced lawyer. At Ladah Law Firm, we have helped accident victims negotiate settlements when the person who struck them blames the wreck on a health crisis. Some insurers immediately believe their insured and deny your claim. However, when you exited your car, this driver seemed fine. We can hold the other side to its burden of proving the medical emergency and its impact on the driver.

Contact Ladah Law Firm Today

If you need a lawyer who will fight for your rights, please contact Ladah Law today. We have dedicated our professional careers to representing accident victims. You can reach us by calling (702) 252-0055 to speak with an experienced Las Vegas car accident lawyer