On Tuesday afternoon, a terrible accident took the lives of two people and left another seriously injured. The crash occurred just before 4 p.m. when a pickup truck struck a car on northbound I-75 near Schaefer. An initial investigation suggests the driver of the pickup was driving erratically for a period of time prior to hitting the second vehicle, killing the driver and a backseat passenger. A passenger in the front seat of the car was hospitalized.
Michigan State Police believe the pickup truck driver was affected by a medical condition but did not specify the exact circumstances or condition. A semi-truck was initially reported to have been involved in the crash, but the semi driver had actually pulled his vehicle around the damaged car and truck to protect them from any additional collisions.
Medical Conditions May Play a Role in Many Accidents
Some research suggests pre-existing conditions may play a role in up to 20% of all vehicle accidents. The presence of a possible contributing medical condition can certainly complicate a case. Usually, drivers who are reckless in some way, by driving under the influence or failing to heed traffic laws for example, will be assigned some level of fault. This makes good sense to most people. What does it mean, however, when impairment is caused by a driver’s medical condition and contributes to a crash?
Common medical conditions potentially impacting safe driving might include seizure disorders, diabetes, or problems with eyesight. Restrictions on a driver’s license or learners permit may indicate a driver’s medical condition. Such a medical restriction gives others, especially police and emergency responders, a heads up that the driver may take medication to control seizures or fainting spells or has a condition which can cause him or her to seem intoxicated.
Several factors may play a role in determining a driver’s fault if he or she caused an accident as a result of a pre-existing medical condition. If a judge needs to determine fault in the case of an accident impacted by a medical condition, he or she is likely to look at several factors, such as:
- Did the driver know about the medical condition?
- Was the driver negligent in failing to properly monitor his or her condition in order to avoid a medical crisis?
- How much did the condition contribute to the crash?
The Sudden Emergency Doctrine
There are certainly instances where a driver could use a defense provided by the Sudden Emergency Doctrine. In brief, the Sudden Emergency Doctrine says a driver cannot be charged with negligence if the driver “acts according to his or her best judgment” or fails to make the best choice because of a lack of time to make a good decision. In addition, using this defense requires the emergency to be “unusual or totally unexpected. This doctrine is not available to individuals who have caused the crisis through their own negligence.
Though the specifics of each case will be important and determining, someone who is aware of their own seizure disorder and fails to take their medication is more likely to be charged with negligence than someone who has a truly sudden and unexpected incident such as a stroke with no prior knowledge of arterial restriction. Other situations may be even less clear.
Have you lost a loved one or been seriously injured in an accident caused by a driver’s pre-existing medical condition? The auto accident attorneys at The Lee Steinberg Law Firm can help. Our experienced team will work with you to review your options and pursue a course of action aimed at putting you and your family back onto a path of physical, financial, and emotional recovery. Call LEE FREE today for your completely free consultation: 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733).