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Who Is Liable in a Car Accident Caused by a Sudden Medical Emergency in Ohio?

A wrecked car on the side of an ambulance.

Car accidents are a common occurrence on the roads of Ohio, and they can happen due to various reasons. One such cause is a sudden medical emergency that can strike drivers while they are behind the wheel. These incidents can lead to serious accidents with severe consequences for those involved.

In this blog post, we will discuss who is liable in a car accident caused by a sudden medical emergency in Ohio and highlight some cases where this issue has been addressed by courts. Additionally, we’ll provide insight from an experienced Cincinnati car accident lawyer on how best to handle these situations if you or someone you know has been involved in one.

How a Sudden Medical Emergency Can Cause a Crash

A sudden medical emergency can happen to anyone, at any time. When it happens while driving, it can lead to a serious car accident with severe consequences. The most common examples of such emergencies include heart attacks, seizures, strokes, fainting spells, or diabetic episodes.

Heart attacks are one of the leading causes of sudden medical emergencies while driving. Symptoms may include chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, and sweating. Seizures that occur suddenly without warning also fall under this category and can cause drivers to lose control.

Strokes are another example where an individual’s ability to drive is compromised due to dizziness or difficulty in seeing properly. Fainting spells are yet another instance where the driver loses consciousness for a brief period and cannot operate their vehicle safely.

Diabetic episodes often result in confusion or loss of consciousness which puts the driver at significant risk while behind the wheel. It’s important for all drivers, especially those with pre-existing health conditions, to exercise caution when getting behind the wheel and seek medical assistance if needed.

The Lehman vs. Haynam Case

The Lehman vs. Haynam case in 1956 is a notable legal precedent that helps to determine liability in car accidents caused by sudden medical emergencies. The case involved two drivers, one of whom suffered from a sudden medical emergency while driving and collided with the other driver’s vehicle.

The court ruled that the driver who experienced the medical emergency was not liable for damages because it was unforeseeable and beyond their control. However, this exemption only applies if there were no prior warning signs or symptoms of the condition leading up to the accident.

This ruling highlights the importance of seeking medical attention when experiencing any unusual physical symptoms before getting behind the wheel. It also emphasizes how crucial it is for drivers to take responsibility for their health and well-being to prevent accidents caused by unexpected events such as sudden medical emergencies.

Next, we will explain a more recent case involving a sudden medical emergency, where the plaintiff tried to overrule the so-called Lehman Rule.

The Roman vs. Estate of Gobbo Case

In the Roman vs. Estate of Gobbo case, a driver who suffered from epilepsy caused a fatal car accident while having a seizure. The question that arose in this case was whether or not the driver’s medical condition constituted a sudden medical emergency under Ohio law.

The court ultimately found that the driver’s epileptic seizure did qualify as a sudden medical emergency, and therefore he was not liable for the accident. However, it is important to note that this decision was based on specific facts and circumstances of this particular case.

an incapacitated driver can cause a fatal accident.

Insurance Companies Will Often Cite the Sudden Medical Emergency Exception

Insurance companies are always searching for ways to avoid paying out claims, and one of their favorite tactics is citing the sudden medical emergency exception. This defense argues that the at-fault driver could not have predicted or prevented their medical emergency, and therefore should not be held liable for any resulting damages.

However, it’s important to note that this defense is not a guarantee of immunity from liability. The courts will still consider factors such as whether the driver had prior knowledge of their medical condition and failed to take necessary precautions, or if they were engaging in reckless behavior before the medical emergency occurred.

Additionally, insurance companies may attempt to use this defense even when there is evidence suggesting that the at-fault driver was negligent leading up to the accident. It’s crucial for those involved in car accidents caused by sudden medical emergencies to seek legal counsel who can help navigate these complex legal issues.

In cases where liability cannot be clearly established due to a sudden medical emergency, Ohio law requires each party’s insurance company to cover their own property damage and injuries through their respective collision coverage and personal injury protection policies. However, navigating insurance claims can also be complicated without experienced legal representation on your side.

While insurance companies may try to cite the sudden medical emergency exception as a means of avoiding liability in car accidents, it’s important for those affected by these incidents to understand their rights under Ohio law. Seeking guidance from an experienced Cincinnati car accident lawyer can help ensure fair compensation and justice.

Could the At-Fault Driver Have Predicted the Medical Emergency?

When a car accident occurs due to a sudden medical emergency, determining liability can be complex. The at-fault driver may argue that they could not have predicted the medical emergency that caused them to lose control of their vehicle. But is this argument valid?

In Ohio, drivers have a duty of care towards others on the road and must take reasonable precautions to prevent accidents. This means if there were signs or symptoms indicating an underlying medical condition, such as erratic driving behavior or slurred speech before the accident occurred, the at-fault driver may still be held liable.

Additionally, if the at-fault driver had knowledge of their medical condition but chose to get behind the wheel anyway without taking necessary precautions (such as medication), they may also be found negligent.

While it is important to consider any contributing factors in a car accident involving a sudden medical emergency, ultimately it is up to legal professionals and experts in Ohio courts to determine liability based on all available evidence.

Talk to an Experienced Cincinnati Car Accident Lawyer!

If you or someone you know has been involved in a car accident caused by a sudden medical emergency, it’s important to understand the legal and insurance implications. While there are cases where the driver experiencing the medical emergency may not be liable, it ultimately depends on various factors.

At Young, Reverman & Mazzei, you can count on a team of experienced Cincinnati car accident lawyers. We have the experience and knowledge of the law to navigate the complexities of any case.

We will fight for your right to receive the fair compensation you deserve, even if the other driver invokes a sudden medical emergency. Your fight for justice starts with the free case review we offer each new client, so call us as soon as possible after your accident!

Jay A. Bolotin is a partner at the injury law firm of Young, Reverman & Bolotin. Serving the people of Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio, Jay dedicates his career to helping clients in the tri-state area obtain financial compensation after suffering serious injuries. He focuses his practice on cases involving car accidents, trucking accidents, dog bites and animal attacks, and other types of personal injury incidents.

Years of Experience: More than 25 years
Registration Status:: Active
Bar Admissions: Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, and Cincinati Bar Association