Factors To Consider When a Medical Condition Causes an Accident

Some medical conditions and disabilities cause symptoms that impair one’s ability to drive a motor vehicle. Examples include seizure disorders, e.g., epilepsy; diabetes; heart disease; and vision problems. Determining liability for an accident that occurs because of a medical condition is less straightforward than, for example, a drunk driving accident.

Before you can hold the other driver liable, the court must make some determinations about the accident.

1. Did the Condition Cause the Crash?

If the other driver had a heart attack or an epileptic seizure, it usually leaves little doubt as to whether the medical condition was the cause of the accident. However, if the impairment was minor, the judge may decide that it was not a major contributing factor.

2. Was the Driver Aware of the Condition?

Certain medical conditions that cause acute symptoms sometimes strike without any warning or indication beforehand that the person has a disease. To make the determination as to whether or not the other driver was aware of the condition, the judge may examine testimony from medical experts. A driver who was not aware of any medical condition can use the “sudden medical emergency” doctrine to defend himself or herself from liability.

3. Was the Driver Negligent in Driving?

Conditions with impairment potential do not necessarily prevent people from driving. People with diabetes, heart disease, or epilepsy can sometimes receive permission to drive if they can demonstrate that they are taking recommended measures to manage their condition. If there is reason to believe that the driver was not living up to his or her responsibility to properly manage the condition, it may be possible to hold him or her liable. However, if all the evidence demonstrates that the other driver was taking the necessary steps to manage the condition and still had an episode of some kind, the judge is less likely to hold the other driver liable for the crash.

4. Do You Bear Any Responsibility for the Accident?

If your actions contributed somewhat to the accident, that may affect the extent of the other driver’s liability and the number of damages you can claim. Laws regarding comparative negligence vary by jurisdiction. Sometimes it depends on the percentage of responsibility that you bear for the crash, but different states have different benchmarks.

It is not insensitive to someone with a disability or medical condition to claim damages for an accident in which you were injured. An attorney, like an automobile accident law firm in Memphis, Tennessee, can help you when dealing with the insurance company and/or filing a lawsuit. Arrange a consultation by calling our office.


Thank you to the experts at Patterson Bray for their insight into car accidents and personal injury law.