Woman suffering from heart attack in car

When Car Accidents Are Caused by Medical Emergencies 

Downs, McDonough, Cowan & Foley Aug. 17, 2023

Car accidents come in all types and all levels of severity, with an almost limitless number of potential causes. One surprisingly common cause of car accidents is medical emergencies. If someone suffers a health issue while driving or is not driving safely due to a sudden emergency, it puts their own safety and the well-being of others on the road at risk. If a medical emergency causes an accident, who is at fault? The answer to such a question can be complicated. 

If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident in which a medical emergency may have been the cause, you need to know your legal options. Reach out to our knowledgeable team at Downs, McDonough, Cowan & Foley, LLC today for help. We proudly serve individuals and families in Durango, Colorado, as well as Telluride, Pagosa Springs, Cortez, and throughout the Four Corners area. 

Common Medical Emergencies That Occur While Driving

Many different types of medical issues can result in car accidents, but some of the more common ones include: 

  • Heart attacks 

  • Seizures 

  • Strokes 

  • Fainting spells 

If you suffer from one of the issues listed above, you may lose the ability to safely operate your vehicle on the road or even lose consciousness entirely. If an accident occurs, it’s common to wonder if you are actually responsible or if you can defend yourself by pointing to your medical issue. 

Determining Fault in a Medical Emergency Car Accident

While some states across the country allow a “sudden medical emergency defense” in car accident cases, the state of Colorado abolished this type of legal defense in 2013. This limits a defendant’s ability to offer the sudden onset of a medical problem as a defense when sued by a party injured in a car accident, opening up the potential for the defendant to be found to be at fault for the accident — even if they were physically incapacitated at the time. Working with a knowledgeable attorney can help you understand what this means for you and your accident. 

How Your Health History Can Come into Play

It is important to understand that even if you suffered a medical episode while driving, and this incident caused an accident, your health history can come into play during the legal process. If you were aware of a health issue you suffer from and you failed to address the issue (through medication or other means), you can potentially be held liable for the wreck and damage or injuries that resulted from it. 

If you have not kept up with a doctor’s prescribed treatment to deal with your ongoing health issue, a plaintiff’s legal representation may try to use that against you in your case. 

Seek Experienced Legal Representation 

Legal matters can be overwhelming. If you or someone you love has been involved in a car accident, you are likely going through a situation in which you may not know where to turn or what your options are. That’s why it’s so important to reach out to legal counsel. Working with a team of experienced personal injury attorneys will give you the clear understanding and guidance you need to determine the course of action that is best for you. 

At Downs, McDonough, Cowan & Foley, LLC, we are ready to meet with you to discuss your accident, explain how the legal process works, and stand by your side every step of the way. We are proud to stand up for the rights and interests of our clients throughout Colorado. If you live in Durango or nearby cities of Cortez, Pagosa Springs, or Telluride — or anywhere throughout the Four Corners area — reach out to us to schedule a consultation.