Who is at fault in a Florida accident caused by a sudden medical emergency?

Daytona Beach, FL- Five people, including a 5 yo boy were injured when a car smashed through the empty toll booth at the International Speedway Boulevard beach approach and continued onto the beach and into the ocean. Apparently, the crash was caused by a sudden medical emergency.

According to Volusia County police, the driver, Christian Rivera Rosado, 28, was incoherent and couldn’t remember the moments before the accident. The man was cited for careless driving, although it is believed he may have suffered a seizure before the accident. The child suffered several cuts when he was hit by the car while he was playing in the water.

Fortunately, all those involved suffered minor injuries. Still, this type of accident poses a very serious question – who is liable for damages in a crash caused by a medical problem?

How is a sudden medical emergency defined?

The driver involved in the Daytona Beach freak accident was a young man, less likely to suffer from serious health issues. If it turns out he had a seizure, he may escape all liability under the sudden medical emergency doctrine.

The sudden medical emergency doctrine refers to accidents where a driver loses consciousness without reasonable warning or in a manner that prevents him or her from observing emergency safety precautions. 

This doctrine covers several medical emergencies that could legitimately incapacitate a driver, such as:

  • Brain aneurysm
  • Stroke
  • Choking
  • Seizure
  • Fainting or blacking out
  • Heart attack.

A healthy individual cannot be held responsible if they suffer a stroke or any other medical problem they had never had before. 

To plead a sudden medical emergency, the driver’s accident lawyers will have to show that:

  • The driver suddenly lost consciousness / became incapacitated
  • The loss of consciousness happened before the act of negligence that led to the crash (ex: running a red light or crashing through the toll booth in the Daytona Beach accident)
  • The loss of consciousness was not foreseen, or foreseeable.

Situations where the sudden medical emergency doctrine doesn’t apply

A driver with a certain medical condition who had been warned not to drive cannot plead they had a medical emergency.

For instance, a driver suffering from epilepsy may experience a seizure at any time, especially if they don’t take their medication as prescribed. Choosing to drive when they know they may have a seizure at any time is an act of negligence as it puts other road users at risk.

Another example – if someone suffers from diabetes and fails to take their medication or take steps to maintain safe sugar levels, they can be held accountable for the damages if they’re involved in a crash.  

How to prove liability

You should consult with a knowledgeable Daytona Beach accident lawyer who will investigate the other driver’s health condition. Your lawyers will:

  • Examine the medical records of the other driver
  • Determine they had a pre-existing medical condition 
  • Check whether the driver was being treated and was regularly following their prescribed plan of care
  • Find out if the doctor had restricted that person from driving because of their medical condition.

Under Florida’s no-fault rule, victims can recover damages under their Personal Injury Protection policy. However, if they sustain severe injuries and the insurance doesn’t cover the damages, the victim will have to sue the driver at fault.

If you were recently injured in a car accident in the Daytona Beach area, schedule a free consultation with an experienced lawyer at Pappas & Russell PA, and let them help you with your claim.

Contact info

Pappas & Russell PA

213 Silver Beach Avenue

Daytona Beach, Florida 32118

Phone: (386) 254-2941