What happens if a driver’s medical emergency causes a wreck?

Car wrecks happen for all kinds of reasons, and sometimes it seems like nobody is really to blame. For example, you could end up in a wreck with a driver who suffered a sudden medical crisis while they were in motion. A heart attack, a seizure, an episode of low blood sugar or a stroke could easily lead to a serious accident.

While you’re undeniably sympathetic to the other driver, however, you can’t help but wonder, “What happens now?” You’re injured, also, and your losses are likely to escalate as you take time off work to recover and start adding up the property damage to your car.

Sudden-onset medical emergencies can be a defense

Many states have some sort of Sudden Emergency Doctrine that drivers who suffer unforeseen medical emergencies can use as a defense in these cases to avoid liability for a wreck. Missouri doesn’t have that, but it does recognize an “Act of God” defense.

If the driver truly had no control over what inevitably happened, their medical emergency may be a legitimate defense to your claim for damages. However, every situation is unique, so you cannot take a claim that someone’s heart attack or low blood sugar was truly unforeseen at face value.

For example, if the other driver was driving to the hospital at the time of the wreck because they had chest pains and felt generally unwell, that’s a good indication that they were negligent just by getting behind the wheel. If they knew that their blood sugar was poorly controlled or they’d started driving despite knowing that they were late on their meal time, driving was clearly unsafe.

If the heart attack happened, however, the other driver could assert a positive defense against your claim. If a diabetic driver had taken all due care to manage their condition and hadn’t any reason to believe they’d experience an episode of hypoglycemia, that’s also a potentially valid defense.

If their defense is successful, you still may have options. Most drivers are able to then pursue a claim against their own insurance company to cover their losses, much like you would with an uninsured motorist.

Dealing with a complicated car wreck claim isn’t something that you should try to handle on your own. There is experienced legal guidance available.