Can I Still Sue if the Other Driver Had a Heart Attack?

November 29, 2020 Accident

Can I Still Sue if the Other Driver Had a Heart Attack? 

If you have been the victim of another person’s negligent driving, you are entitled to make an insurance claim and sue in Louisiana courts to recover money damages. You are entitled to recover for ALL of your injuries and damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, the costs of repairing your vehicle, and more.

Sadly, sometimes a crash occurs when the other driver has had a medical emergency, like a heart attack. We may have sympathy under these circumstances, but under Louisiana law, that driver is still likely to be deemed “at fault,” and their insurance carrier is likely to have to pay out a settlement. If the case goes to trial, it is likely the other driver will be held liable by the judge and/or jury in a court of law.

This is because, as discussed below, true “sudden unconsciousness” is actually rare. Almost always, there is some warning sign or signs that should have been heeded by the other driver. Second, Louisiana law is protective of victims of wrongdoing, and consequently, a driver claiming a sudden emergency resulting in unconsciousness has the burden of proof. Generally, a victim of an auto accident — legally termed a “plaintiff” — must prove that the other driver was negligent. For example, driving too fast is, under the law, negligent driving. Louisiana law places the burden on the plaintiff to gather sufficient evidence to prove that the other driver was driving too fast, committed negligence, and was at fault for the crash.

However, in cases in which the other driver claims to have had a sudden medical emergency, Louisiana law shifts the burden of proof. The other driver must bring forth sufficient evidence to prove that he or she was not negligent because of the emergency, AND the evidence that is required must be clear and very convincing. See Brannon v. Shelter Mutual Insurance, Co., 507 So.2d 194 (La. 1987). Louisiana courts require four legal propositions to be shown by clear and convincing evidence:

  • There was a medical emergency
  • That was sudden
  • That was not foreseeable and
  • That caused unconsciousness

This is difficult to prove by clear and convincing evidence. This is why, very likely, a driver who suffered a heart attack will be held liable for a resulting car wreck in Louisiana.

Consider the issue of “foreseeability.” A driver who suffered a heart attack will NOT be able to prove sudden unconsciousness if the driver knew that he or she had a medical condition that might cause sudden unconsciousness. Experienced Louisiana car accident lawyers like the ones at Mansfield, Melancon, Cranmer & Dick LLC might ask for medical records that could show that the other driver was taking heart medication and/or had been diagnosed by a physician with a heart condition. Likewise, consider the issue of “suddenness.” The driver cannot prove “suddenness” if, earlier in the day, for example, the driver experienced warning signs or symptoms of what ultimately became a medical emergency. Drivers have a duty of care and that duty includes NOT driving at all if the driver has symptoms that would suggest that a sudden emergency medical condition might occur.

Mansfield Melancon Attorneys can Help: Call Today

If you have been injured in a Louisiana automobile crash, contact the Louisiana car accident attorneys at Mansfield, Melancon, Cranmer & Dick LLC. We have a proven track record of success handling many types of Louisiana personal injury cases, including, but not limited to, car accidents, boating accidents, motorcycle accidents, premises liability accidents, and cases involving nursing care facility abuse/neglect. Contact us by calling one of our offices: New Orleans at (504) 500-1108, Baton Rouge at (225) 612-0800, or Lafayette at (337) 409-0003. You can also request a free consultation by using our “Contact Us” page.