In Virginia, if the driver of a car suddenly loses consciousness and strikes another car, can the driver who lost consciousness avoid liability for any injuries that result from the car accident?

Medical emergency car accident injury Virginia Beach

The below information was written by our personal injury lawyers in Virginia Beach.

Maybe. Under certain circumstances, the medical emergency doctrine may apply to the facts of a car accident, and in cases where the doctrine applies, the defendant in a personal injury lawsuit arising from the car accident will not be considered negligent. Click here for a discussion of negligence in personal injury cases in Virginia. Writing on the medical emergency doctrine, the Virginia Supreme Court has said:

It is undoubtedly the law that one who is suddenly stricken by an illness, which he had no reason to anticipate, while driving an automobile, which renders it impossible for him to control the car, is not chargeable with, negligence.

The key elements of the medical emergency doctrine are: (1) a sudden illness, (2) the lack of any reason to anticipate the sudden illness, (3) the onset of the illness while operating a car, and (4) the impossibility for the suddenly ill driver to control his or her car.  An example of a medical emergency that might satisfy the elements of the medical emergency doctrine would be a driver who suddenly and unexpectedly lost consciousness while driving, resulting in a car accident with injuries. If the jury hearing the personal injury case arising out of this hypothetical scenario concluded that the defendant driver had a sudden loss of consciousness while operating his car, that the defendant driver had no reason to anticipate that he would lose consciousness, and that the loss of consciousness made it impossible for the defendant driver to control his or her car, then the jury could conclude that the defendant driver was free of negligence pursuant to the medical emergency doctrine. It is important to note, however, that falling asleep generally is not considered a medical emergency.

The medical emergency doctrine is similar to the sudden emergency doctrine, but the Virginia Supreme Court has written that the proper jury instruction in a personal injury case involving a medical emergency is different from the instruction to be given in a case involving a sudden emergency. Click here to learn more about the application of Virginia’s sudden emergency doctrine in car accident cases.

Questions regarding the application of the medical emergency doctrine are specific to the individual personal injury case, and we encourage you to contact one of our personal injury lawyers in Virginia Beach.   We can advise the prospective client as to whether the potential defendant in a personal injury lawsuit has a legitimate basis for claiming that the accident was caused by a medical emergency rather than the defendant’s negligence. As in all personal injury cases, an experienced personal injury lawyer can also advise the injured person as to the value of the injury claim, can guide the injured person through the process of making a claim with the applicable insurance company or companies, and can represent the injured person in the litigation of the personal injury claim, if a personal injury lawsuit becomes necessary.

Waiting can hurt your case. To find out how our personal injury lawyers in Virginia Beach can help you, please contact us at (757) 486-2700.

Personal injury lawyers in Virginia Beach serving all of Hampton Roads.

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