Imagine driving down the road in your car when you suddenly black out. Imagine waking up to find that you are being removed from your car by paramedics. You are placed on a stretcher and whisked away to the hospital before you can realize what just happened. You get to the hospital and are rushed into the emergency room. You overhear the reports of a crash coming from a nearby police radio when the paramedics rush another stretcher into the emergency room. Later, you find out that the person on the other stretcher was the driver of the other vehicle that you hit when you blacked out at the wheel. Fortunately, the driver will live, but he did sustain a lot of injuries. It should take several months for him to recover.
Fast forward six months later. Your lawyer is preparing you for trial. The injured driver is suing you for compensation for the injuries he sustained and for his loss of income while unable to work. Your lawyer has explained that the case could turn in your favor if the defense he uses is successful. The defense he wishes to use is called the sudden medical emergency or unforeseen unconsciousness defense, which is a complete defense against a claim for negligence against a driver. If this defense is successful, you will not be responsible for paying the injured driver for any injuries or loss of income.
Pennsylvania Unforeseen Unconscious Defense
Pennsylvania’s unforeseen unconsciousness defense allows a driver to escape liability when the driver suddenly loses unconsciousness by an unforeseeable reason. However, if the driver is aware that he will lose consciousness, then the defense is useless and the charge of negligence stands. The driver has the burden of showing evidence that there was a medical emergency that occurred and additional evidence that it was not foreseeable.
As you continue to prepare for trial, you explain to your lawyer that before you went for a drive, your back started to hurt. You decided to take some medication, but you did not read the directions and did not see the warnings about drowsiness. You also did not check with your doctor before you took the medication either. Later that evening, you blacked out while driving.
After you explain this to your lawyer, it becomes apparent to him that the defense would likely not be successful because the blackout became foreseeable when you took the medicine without consulting the directions or your doctor. These additional facts will send your lawyer back to the drawing board to come up with another trial strategy. But, if instead of taking medicine, you actually lost consciousness because you had a heart attack and it was unforeseen by you or your doctor, then the unforeseen unconsciousness defense may be successful.
Contact a Car Accident Attorney in Philadelphia Now
As for the victim in this case, he may be able to recover under the uninsured or underinsured motorist provision of his insurance policy. This may help to cover the injuries he sustained.
If you have been involved in an accident caused by a driver who lost consciousness, or if you lost consciousness and caused an accident, it may be in your best interest to contact an experienced and knowledgeable auto accident attorney today.