Being able to recover compensation in the aftermath of a car accident usually depends on determining fault. This is especially the case when there are serious injuries involved. However, there are times when a medical emergency, such as a seizure, occurs and causes a driver to crash their vehicle. If you have been injured in a Miami car accident caused by another driver’s seizure, you may wonder whether you can file a lawsuit to recover compensation.
The sudden medical emergency defense
In general, the person whose negligence causes an accident is the one at fault. However, if a person suffers from a sudden medical emergency, they may be relieved of any liability for the incident. The idea behind this defense is that the person who suffers from a sudden medical emergency has not acted negligently and should not be held responsible for something that was beyond their control and that they could not foresee. Generally, this defense can be used under the following circumstances:
- the driver suddenly lost consciousness before the accident occurred
- the loss of consciousness caused the driver to lose control of the vehicle
- the loss of consciousness was caused by an unforeseeable medical emergency
The key part of this defense is unforeseeable. For example, if a driver suffers from a seizure, they will generally lose all control of their body. This will likely result in an accident. If the driver has no documented history of having seizures, then this is likely an unforeseeable event.
However, if a driver has a history of seizures and has been instructed by their doctor not to drive, they will likely not be able to assert the “sudden medical emergency” defense on their behalf. In cases like that, the driver had a reason to anticipate that they might suffer another seizure while driving. Establishing whether a driver could reasonably foresee a medical emergency, an attorney will want to analyze a person’s medical records.
Florida is a no-fault car accident state
Another factor to consider in these cases is the fact that Florida is a “no-fault” car accident state. This means that each driver turns to their own insurance coverage for compensation in the aftermath of a car accident, regardless of who was at fault for the crash. Under Florida law, all drivers must maintain at least $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) and $10,000 in property damage liability (PDL) in order to be legal on the roadways.
PIP is designed to cover injury-related expenses such as ER visits, doctor bills, prescription medications, and lost wages. Drivers in Florida who are injured due to another person’s negligence cannot generally file a lawsuit unless the injury qualifies as “serious” as defined by state law. This means that the injured driver experienced one of the following:
- a bone fracture
- significant disfigurement
- permanent limitation of use of a body part or organ
- a significant limitation of use of a body function or system
- is fully disabled for 90 days or more
If a driver is injured in any of those ways due to another driver’s seizure, they will need to seek help from an attorney when determining whether the other driver’s medical emergency was foreseeable or not. Otherwise, for less serious injuries, drivers in Florida are limited to the coverage provided by their own insurance carrier.