Determining liability in many car accident cases is complicated in many situations. Accidents where a driver suffered a medical emergency just before the collision are often particularly complex. Statistics report that nearly 20% of all motor vehicle crashes occur due to one of the drivers suffering a medical event while behind the wheel. Hiring an experienced car accident lawyer can provide you with the necessary guidance in these cases.


Many medical conditions can lead to vehicle collisions. 

A few conditions that cause sudden health changes that significantly impact driving are:

  • Diabetes or low blood sugar
  • Epilepsy or seizure disorders 
  • Brain aneurysm
  • Choking
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Fainting 
  • Delusions 
  • Poor eyesight 

Other medical emergencies can also occur while driving.

These include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Loss of muscular control
  • Loss of equilibrium
  • Extreme pain
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Mental changes

Many states place restrictions or limitations on drivers with pre-existing medical conditions. These limitations are based on the severity of their impairment. Certain medical issues restrict driving privileges at specific times of day, while others, such as poor eyesight, must be listed on a driver’s license. 


The medical issues that cause car crashes can be due to an underlying condition or completely unexpected. 


If a driver loses control of their vehicle due to an unknown ailment, it will be very difficult to prove negligence. These types of cases fall under the sudden emergency doctrine, which states that the defendant was rendered incapable of reacting safely and reasonably to the circumstances. Situations under this doctrine are unavoidable accidents that occur at no one’s fault. 

A driver who claims they suffered a sudden emergency must prove the following:

  • That they suddenly lost consciousness before the accident occurred
  • That the loss of consciousness caused them to lose control of the vehicle
  • That the loss of consciousness was due to an unforeseeable medical emergency

In Arizona, the law for sudden emergencies is called the Sudden Incapacitation Defense. It states that the driver is not negligent if their judgment is overpowered or they are incapable of controlling the vehicle because of an act of God or emergency.


However, the case becomes more complex if the emergency was due to a known medical issue.  Continuing to drive when experiencing medical problems is considered negligent because it’s reasonable to assume the condition could put other drivers in danger. Two dominant factors to consider are if the condition prevents a person from driving and whether the motorist was actively managing their health at the time of the accident. To establish liability, you must prove they neglected to take their medication or ignored advice from their physician. 


Determining liability in vehicle accidents is difficult, especially if health conditions are involved. In these situations, it is crucial that you work with an experienced car accident attorney. They know how to anticipate a sudden emergency defense and what evidence is needed to overcome it. 

If you or a loved one were injured in a car accident due to medical issues, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Grabb & Durando. We can help you build your case.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your situation and legal options.

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