Car Accident Caused by Medical Emergency

Although the act of driving a motor vehicle is a privilege dispensed by the State, most people consider it a right and a necessity in our ever expanding communities.  When to give up this privilege due to age or infirmity is one of the most difficult decisions that most all of us will need to make at some point in our lives.

Although physicians are often aware that a patient’s condition may affect their ability to drive, or worse yet, result in a catastrophic attack or illness during the course of driving, the decision when to stop is usually left to the patient.  When the individual relies on driving to maintain independence, which is likely a positive factor for maintaining positive outlook and quality of life, it may be necessary for family and friends to offer support and alternatives to driving, to make the decision easier.

Unfortunately, in the tragic circumstance when an infirm driver causes harm to another by losing control of a vehicle during a heart attack or seizure, the victim my not be able to collect compensation for serious injuries from the infirm driver’s insurance company, if the insurer considers the attack or seizure to have been an “unforeseeable medical emergency”.  For example, Under New York State Law, a medical emergency would be considered “unforeseeable” in the circumstance when the driver had no known illnesses, and had a first time attack while driving.

Yet, a medical emergency may be considered “foreseeable” in a situation where the driver had prior similar attacks, failed to take all of his or her prescribed medication, or where a known condition made it likely that an attack was to occur.  In this instance, the driver would still be considered “negligent”, despite the fact that the accident was caused by a medical emergency.

The elderly and infirm should be encouraged to consider their decision to drive or not to drive carefully.  This will avoid the heartache and loss to both the driver and the victim which results when one loses control of their vehicle due to medical circumstances.

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