When The Car Is Not Under The Driver's Control: Determining Liability

One of the more tragic types of car accidents is one in which someone is injured because a car went truly out of control, either due to a defect or to something like a medical emergency that caused the driver to black out. In many of these cases, the driver truly could not control the car and had no idea there was about to be a problem, which means that, as bad as the injury to the other person might be, the driver really isn't liable. But this isn't so clear-cut, and if you've been accused of causing an accident despite having a medical or mechanical emergency, you need to have a lawyer sort things out.

Prior Actions and Inaction

One thing you need to look at is what you were doing before the accident, and what actions you didn't take given what you knew. A good example is that of someone on heart medication that usually does a good job of controlling any problems. If you took the medication as directed (for the sake of the example, assume this medication still allows you to drive and does not make you drowsy) and still had a sudden heart attack while driving, you might not be at fault because you did everything correctly in this particular case. But if you decided to skip your medication because you decided you felt fine, and then you had an attack, that looks like negligent behavior on your part.

What Was Going on in the Car?

Another issue is what happened in the car just before the accident. For example, the car accident in 1999 that involved a van hitting author Stephen King was due to the driver getting distracted by his dog. The driver might not have expected the dog to become an issue, but he did not sufficiently restrain the dog to prevent there being a distraction. In fact, a witness stated that the van had been weaving for some time before the accident. In this case, the driver was at fault, though the actual sentence was light. But if you were not doing anything, or if you realized there was a problem and immediately tried to stop the car, only to be overwhelmed by the problem too quickly, you may have a case.

Did You Know About the Recall?

If the issue was a mechanical one, your car will be investigated for recalls and known mechanical problems that could have contributed to the accident. If there was a well-publicized recall for brake problems, for example, and you never took your car in to get it fixed, that's not a good situation for you. On the other hand, if there seemed to be nothing wrong, and something just broke, causing the car to careen out of control, it might not be your fault.

But again, all of these -- as with most other cases -- all depend on specifics that occurred in your car and with your actions. Don't assume the court will rule one way or another. Get a good accident attorney to work with you. For more information, contact a business such as Bangel, Bangel, & Bangel.