In most traffic accident, the first matter that must be addressed is medical care for the accident victims. Even if you believe your injuries are not serious, you should always be checked by a medical professional. Closed brain injuries and soft tissue damage can be difficult to diagnose, but both injuries can result in long-term or permanent conditions that can cause chronic pain and impaired movement.

The second matter that must be addressed is the payment of damages. Most likely, the first item is your vehicle followed by medical expenses and lost wages. Who pays for these expenses? To hold the other driver liable for your damages, you must prove that the other driver caused the accident.

If the insurance company for the other driver accepts liability, it will be responsible for the payment of your damages. However, in some cases, the driver may admit he caused the crash but claim he is not liable because of an emergency.

What is the Sudden or Medical Emergency Defense?

Under California law, a person may claim he or she is not liable for the damages caused in a traffic accident because of a sudden emergency or medical emergency.  This defense may not often be used, but it is a valid defense if the person can prove all the following elements:

  • An emergency occurred that resulted in the danger of immediate injury;
  • The emergency was sudden or unexpected;
  • The driver did not cause the emergency; and,
  • The driver acted in the same manner as a reasonable person would have acted.

In California, if a driver experiences a sudden illness, such as a heart attack or a stroke, the driver is not held liable for damages that result from a traffic accident.  However, mental illness and mental health conditions do not qualify as a sudden or medical emergency defense.

Will My Claim Be Denied?

The sudden emergency defense is a narrow defense that requires the person to prove each of the above elements to win. Furthermore, the burden of proof is on the other driver. It is not up to you to prove or disprove the driver’s allegations of a sudden emergency. The burden of proof is all on the other driver. However, there are steps your attorney can take such as providing evidence to argue that the actions of the driver were not the actions a “reasonable person” would have taken in a “similar situation.”

Contact a Fresno Car Accident Attorney

The sudden emergency defense is just one of the many issues that can come up in a car accident case. Insurance companies use every tactic available to them to try to deny or devalue your car accident claim. Therefore, it is always in your best interest to have an attorney on your side who has experience handling car accident claims.

If you have been injured in a Fresno or Central California Valley area car accident, our attorneys can help. Call Torem & Associates at 1-800-954-4444 or use the contact form on our website to request a free consultation with a Fresno car accident attorney.  Our attorneys accept most cases on a contingency basis meaning you do not pay our attorney fees until we win your case.