We hear about drivers who become unconscious or have another type of medical emergency and get into a car accident. While it isn’t a common occurrence, it does happen. If this has happened to you, you should meet with a skilled Douglassville car accident lawyer right away. They can let you know if you should pursue damages.
Your Douglasville Accident Attorney Will Still Have to Prove Negligence
Regardless of what happened prior to the accident, your Douglasville accident lawyer will have to prove negligence. The defendant may claim that they had a stroke or seizure. Even if that’s true, it doesn’t automatically put them in the clear.
Your lawyer will still try to prove that their medical emergency was not the primary cause of the crash. For example, they may have been texting and driving at the time of impact. The stroke may have been a response to the crash.
What Do They Have to Do to Prove Negligence?
To prove negligence, your Douglasville accident attorney must demonstrate four things. First, they must prove that the defendant owed you a duty of care. This isn’t difficult. All drivers owe a duty of care to other motorists.
Second, you must demonstrate that the defendant breached this duty. Once you’ve done that, you’ll need to show that you were hurt and that your injuries were caused by the defendant’s behavior.
Does Having a Seizure or Other Medical Emergency Constitute Negligence?
As far as your lawsuit is concerned, the other driver’s medical emergency does not constitute negligence. In fact, the last thing you want to do is prove that their medical emergency caused the crash.
Your Douglasville accident lawyer needs to show that something other than their emergency caused the collision. Otherwise, there is a good chance the defendant will be protected by Georgia’s “Act of God” law.
Georgia Follows the “Act of God” Rule When it Comes to Medical Emergencies
Most states have a specific law that addresses a person’s liability in the event of a medical emergency. This is commonly referred to as the “Act of God” law. In Georgia, this law is spelled out in OCGA §1-3-3.
Under this law, if a driver suffers an unforeseeable illness and loses control of their vehicle, they are not liable for damages. There are two important elements of this defense:
- The defendant must show that their medical illness or emergency was not foreseeable
- They must also prove that they lost control of the vehicle
In addition to these two things, the other driver’s lawyer must prove that their client was not otherwise negligent.
How Does the “Act of God” Rule Apply to Car Accidents?
As far as car accidents are concerned, the “Act of God” rule can completely bar the driver’s being found liable or negligent. Even if the defendant has experienced a similar thing in the past, they may still assert this affirmative defense.
What your Douglassville accident attorney will argue is that the incident was foreseeable. If they can prove that the defendant knew or should have known that they would get sick, they should have taken precautions.
There is a Chance the Defendant Will Be Absolved of Liability
The last thing you want to have happen is for the defendant to be totally relieved of liability. It is one thing if the jury finds that their emergency contributed to the crash. However, you don’t want them to find that the emergency was the only cause.
If the jury finds that the accident would not have happened but for the medical illness or emergency, the defendant will not be liable. You won’t be able to sue them again. Nor can you demand that they compensate you.
Can Your Douglasville Accident Lawyer Work Around This Rule?
There are a few ways your Douglasville accident lawyer can press forward. One way they can do this is by proving that the defendant did not take reasonable precautions before getting behind the wheel.
For example, if the other driver was supposed to take anti-seizure medication and chose not to, they may be found liable. The same is true if you can demonstrate that their illness or injury took place after the collision.
You May Have a Chance if You Can Prove the Accident Would Have Happened Anyway
What our Douglasville accident attorneys would do in a situation like this is talk to an expert. If we can find someone to confirm that the medical illness did not occur until after impact, it will help your case tremendously.
An expert may also be able to help prove that the cause of the crash had nothing to do with the medical issue. For example, if they can find a video showing that the other driver was alert and oriented prior to the crash, it will help as well.
The Burden is On the Defendant to Prove the Emergency Was Sudden and Unforeseeable
One thing you should keep in mind is that it is the defendant’s job to prove that they suffered a medical emergency. When somebody asserts an affirmative defense like this, the onus is on to prove that it’s true.
The same thing would be true if somebody claimed self-defense in a criminal case. When a defendant is asking the court to absolve them of liability based on an “Act of God”, they will hold the burden of proof.
You Should Sit Down with a Douglasville Accident Attorney Immediately After the Crash
Before you assume that you don’t have a case, you should meet with an experienced Douglasville accident lawyer. Just because the defendant asserts an affirmative defense, that doesn’t automatically absolve them of liability.
Your attorney can review the information you have, including the police report. They can also look to see if the defendant has a history of motor vehicle accidents. This may not, by itself, change things. But it can help.
We Offer All New Clients a Free, Initial Consultation
We like to offer new clients a free consultation. This gives you a chance to sit down with one of our Douglassville accident attorneys and ask them any questions you may have. It also gives our associates the chance to see if your case is worth pursuing.
If it appears that your claim has merit, there’s a good chance our firm will be willing to represent you. If, however, it doesn’t appear that your case has value, we will let you know. We would not want to get your hopes up unfairly.
You Won’t Have to Pay Your Douglasville Accident Lawyer Anything Upfront
The good news is that not only is your initial consultation free, but you don’t pay anything upfront. This is different from other types of cases where you have to pay an hourly rate. In fact, your Douglasville accident lawyer won’t be paid until you settle your case.