“Your Local Injury Lawyers Since 1985”


Older man suffering chest pain or heart attack while driving a car

Who Is Liable When A Car Accident Is Caused By A Medical Emergency?

By: Fred Moore | Feb 15, 2023

When someone experiences a medical emergency while driving, they may lose control of their vehicle and cause a crash. At Moore Law Firm, our car accident lawyers have helped more than 15,000 personal injury clients in Mobile, AL, and the surrounding areas. While a car accident caused by a medical emergency is just that, an accident, others who are injured in a crash still need to pay their medical bills and may suffer short- or long-term physical, emotional, and financial repercussions.

Common Causes Of Auto Accidents Due To Medical Emergencies

Many different conditions can cause sudden health issues that affect someone’s ability to drive, including:

Loss of muscular control. A stroke or nerve condition like neuropathy can cause a motorist to suddenly lose control of their muscles. When this occurs, they may not be able to use their legs, feet, arms, and hands.

Loss of consciousness. A car accident caused by a medical emergency may also be the result of a driver having low blood sugar, a heart attack, stroke, seizure, or another condition that causes them to lose consciousness.  A car accident caused by a medical emergency can also be the result of someone choking and passing out because of eating or drinking while driving.

Dizziness. Conditions like vertigo, inner ear disturbances, low blood sugar, and motion sickness can cause sudden dizziness. A motorist who becomes dizzy may also experience nausea and confusion, which can impede their ability to drive safely.

Extreme pain. Severe headaches, migraines, sudden chest pain, and pain caused by other conditions or injuries can make it tough to focus on the road. A driver distracted by pain could drift out of their lane or veer off the road and crash.

Cognitive and psychological issues. Elderly drivers with conditions like dementia can suddenly experience cognitive changes that affect their ability to function. Those who suffer from mental illnesses such as schizophrenia can hallucinate or become delusional and unable to drive.

Issues with vision. Although sight problems aren’t necessarily a medical emergency, when someone with a condition like macular degeneration, cataracts, or glaucoma gets behind the wheel, the results can be disastrous.

Determining Fault In Car Accidents Caused By Medical Conditions

Drivers who become ill or have a medical emergency have a duty to pull over as soon as possible to avoid putting others at risk. If there isn’t enough time to do this, they may be able to raise a sudden emergency defense to avoid liability. If symptoms are apparent and a motorist ignores them, this defense may not apply, and they could be liable for any injuries and damages sustained in a car accident caused by a medical emergency.

According to statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the majority of drivers involved in an auto accidents due to a medical emergency were aware of their condition before the crash. In these types of cases, the emergency defense may not be successful. Motorists who wreck because of eating or drinking and choking may also be liable for damages.

The circumstances surrounding a car accident caused by a medical emergency can make it challenging to sort out whether a driver was at fault.  Some questions insurers and personal injury lawyers may consider to establish fault include:

  • Was the medical emergency due to a pre-existing condition the driver was aware of?
  • If so, did they fail to monitor their condition?
  • What is the severity of their medical condition?
  • Has their condition ever led to them having a restricted license or barred them from driving in the past?

Each case is unique, and the factors involved depend on the specific situation.

How A Mobile Car Accident Lawyer Can Help

Cases involving car accidents caused by medical conditions are complex. If you or a loved one has been injured in this type of crash, it’s critical to have a personal injury lawyer evaluate your case to determine whether you may have a claim for damages. An auto accident attorney can help you understand your rights and advise you of your options for recovering compensation.

Contact Our Car Accident Lawyers In Mobile, AL

At Moore Law Firm, our team is dedicated to helping make things right for injured victims who have been hurt due to no fault of their own. To schedule a free consultation with a personal injury attorney, call us at 251-445-7602, contact us, or use the convenient chat feature on our website to get in touch. Our car accident lawyers serve clients in Mobile, AL, and surrounding areas.