Confronting the Sudden Medical Emergency Defense for Maryland Car Accident Victims

Under Maryland law, drivers owe a duty of care to other road users to avoid causing harm. These duties include behaviors such as following traffic rules, maintaining proper licensure, and modifying behaviors to comport with inclement weather. However, the duties become muddled when the accident or injury results from a sudden medical emergency that makes a driver unable to operate their vehicle safely.

The party bringing forth a Maryland personal injury lawsuit maintains the burden of proof; however, the adverse party can avoid liability by establishing a valid defense. As such, the party claiming a sudden medical emergency must prove that:

  • They became suddenly incapacitated before the accident;
  • The incapacitation caused the driver to lose control of their vehicle; and
  • The incapacitation and loss of control was a result of the sudden medical emergency.

A sudden medical emergency can involve various types of events such as:

  • Fainting
  • Seizure
  • Stroke
  • Heart Attack
  • Brian Aneurysm
  • Choking

These emergencies can cause a driver to lose control of their vehicle and crash into a vehicle, static object, or bystander. For instance, news reports described a Maryland single-vehicle crash stemming from a driver’s medical episode. An off-duty police officer was traveling with his daughter when he experienced an “incapacitating medical event” and crashed his vehicle. His daughter was able to exit and call emergency responders. Emergency rescuers performed life-saving measures at the scene, but the officer later died at a local hospital. The precipitating medical event is unclear; however, the case is still under investigation.

Although some medical emergencies are legitimately sudden, at-fault drivers may falsely purport a condition to avoid liability. Courts categorize sudden incapacitating medical emergencies as those that a driver had no reasonable expectation of experiencing. In some cases, a driver may still be liable if they knew or should have known of the risk. For instance, a driver who failed to take medication to prevent a condition could be liable if that failure resulted in an incapacitating medical emergency.

How Can a Maryland Injury Attorney Help After a Car Accident?

A Maryland injury attorney can assist injury victims in gathering evidence to rebut the other driver’s assertions, helping them prove the other driver is financially responsible for their injuries. One way to refute an at-fault driver’s claims is to examine their medical records to determine if their emergency is related to a known pre-existing medical condition they failed to treat. In the event that the medical emergency was valid, an attorney can help the injury victim find alternate avenues to relief.

Have You Suffered Any Injuries in a Maryland Car Accident

If you or someone you love has suffered serious injuries because of a negligent driver, contact the attorneys Lebowitz & Mzhen. The Maryland injury lawyers at our office have extensive experience successfully representing accident victims in their personal injury lawsuits and securing compensation on their behalf. Our office handles Maryland car accident cases in addiiton to other claims involving premises liability, defective products, medical malpractice, and nursing home negligence. Our law firm maintains an active practice with attorneys and support staff who have a firm grasp of the complex laws that govern Maryland accident claims. Contact our office at 800-654-1949 to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney on our team.

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