What would happen if a feverish driver — who was experiencing chills, fatigue, and body aches and was suddenly rendered unconscious — suddenly veered across the centerline and struck your vehicle in a head-on collision, causing you significant property damage and severe physical injury?
Would you be shocked to know that in California the above-described driver may have a defense against your claim for compensation? A valid defense to negligence has been recognized for a person who is suddenly stricken by an unforeseeable physical illness, which the person had no reason to anticipate, if that illness renders it impossible to control the car he/she is operating.
What recourse would you have after an accident?
You can be certain that the insurance adjusters and their defense counsel would raise this medical emergency defense as a bar against your claim, meaning they would rely on this defense to pay you nothing for your property damage or your physical injury. You may be left “holding the bag” so to speak for repairing or replacing your vehicle, as well as your medical costs/expenses; all for an accident that was caused by the other driver! This nightmare only gets worse if your auto insurance only provides for liability coverage and/or you do not have adequate medical insurance. Circumstances are different during a pandemic, so read into what happens after an accident here.
During our current viral pandemic, the scenario described above isn’t an unrealistic fantasy. It could definitely happen to anyone, and we’re all just hoping it doesn’t happen to us. However, wishful thinking without knowledge and planning is naiveté, at best. In these situations, your best bet is to retain legal counsel with knowledge and experience with personal injury cases, including passenger vehicle accidents, as early in the process as possible.
Competent attorneys will know that in claiming the medical emergency defense, the applicable insurance adjusters and their counsel will have the burden to affirmatively prove that (i) the defendant driver was telling the truth about his/her medical condition causing the accident; (ii) the cause of the medical condition the defendant driver experienced was physical, rather than mental; (iii) that the medical condition immediately rendered defendant unable to control his/her vehicle; (iv) that defendant driver had no reason to foresee this sudden physical medical condition, amongst other things. This burden of proof is not easily met, and diligent counsel may be able to disable such defense with well drafted written discovery and properly planned deposition questioning.
What that means to you is that retaining good legal representation early on in your case may prevent a nightmare scenario from playing out like a real-life horror film. Your local Los Angeles Attorneys hope that this information will help you feel more prepared and confident during these unprecedented times.