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When Known Medical Conditions Cause Accidents

On occasion, car accidents can occur as a result of a driver experiencing symptoms of a known medical condition. In this case, liability will depend on whether the driver had prior knowledge of their condition. If the driver knew of their medical condition and failed to take proper precautions, their liability increases. Conversely, a driver unaware of their condition cannot be held liable.

As a result, many states place restrictions on the driver’s licenses of individuals with underlying medical conditions. In Utah, license applicants must complete a medical history form; if the applicant has any severe medical conditions, they must visit a medical professional who will advise them on their driving capabilities.

Physician Obligations

Your health care provider must report all physical, emotional, or mental impairments they become aware of if they present an immediate threat to your ability to drive safely. Under Utah Code Annotated 53-3-303, your physician can provide this report to the Driver’s License Division (DLD) without violating patient-doctor privileges. 

Utah Driver Obligations

Those possessing a Utah Driver License must cease driving if they become aware of any health conditions that could negatively impact their ability to drive safely. If this condition lasts longer than three months, they must report it directly to the Utah DLD. If the driver has any questions on their continuation of driving, they must consult with their health care provider; who will assist them in making a decision. However, the DLD will render the final decision regarding driving capabilities.

Utah state law upholds these responsibilities; drivers should not drive if they have, develop, or suspect that they have a physical, mental, or emotional impairment; impacting their ability to drive safely. Furthermore, you must seek medical advice and treatment for these conditions, to discern how these conditions might affect your driving.

How Fault Will Be Determined

Car accident cases can vary greatly, as each will have unique circumstances. Each claim will be evaluated on a case by case basis. However, common fault-determining factors include intent, the extent to which the medical condition contributed to the accident, and the extent of personal injury and property damage that occurred. 

Generally, medical professionals will be consulted in order to determine both the severity of the medical condition and the extent to which the driver was aware of the condition. If the at-fault driver knew of their condition, their level of negligence will then be examined.

For example, if a driver with hypoglycemia fails to regulate their blood sugar, and as a result loses consciousness at the wheel causing an accident; they will have more liability than a driver that did all they could to take care of themselves.

If Your Pre-Existing Medical Conditions Present New Symptoms, You May Still Be Liable 

Unfortunately, a driver with a known medical condition may retain liability if their condition presents new symptoms that cause an auto accident. For example, a diabetic person who experiences a sudden seizure might be liable for any resulting accident; so long as the episode relates to their pre-existing condition. 

Essentially, a driver with a pre-existing condition should understand that their condition always poses the risk of a dangerous event; especially conditions like diabetes, epilepsy, heart defects, etc.

What if the At-fault Driver Wasn’t Aware of Their Medical Condition?

If the at-fault driver can prove they didn’t know of their medical condition at the time the accident occurred, they may use a ‘sudden medical emergency’ defense. However, this defense will make it harder for the injured party to obtain compensation. A ‘sudden medical emergency’ defense only applies to cases where the at-fault driver suffered an unpredictable loss of consciousness; having had no warning signs nor symptoms indicating its onset.

A party that can prove they suffered a ‘sudden medical emergency’ will have no liability; as it is unreasonable to hold a person accountable for events outside of their control.

How A Utah Attorney Can Help 

If you were injured in an accident caused by a party claiming a ‘sudden medical emergency’ an attorney can obtain and review the medical records of the at-fault driver; using their medical records to ascertain the degree of awareness the driver should have had.

Conversely, if you are pursuing a ‘sudden medical emergency’ defense you will want to hire an attorney as soon as possible. This way your chances for reduced liability increase dramatically.

Were you or someone you know involved in a recent auto accident? Call Auto Accident Care Network now at 801-683-1948 to connect with a live care advocate. Our team at AACN can connect you to trusted attorneys and doctors to schedule a free legal consultation, a free thirty-minute massage, and a no-cost medical exam!

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