A four-month-old baby died in Dansville, New York when a truck crashed into his house. Calin Fly was in a baby swing in the living room when the truck buried him under debris. He was found without a pulse and suffering from serious head injuries. Paramedics were able to revive the infant before he was flown to a hospital. Sadly, he died a few days later from his injuries, reported ABC News (10.7.14).
ABC News reported that Dansville Police Chief Charlie Perkins said that the driver was not suspected of being under the influence. The police chief also said that the driver, Tracy Abbott, had a history of seizures and told police he controlled his illness with medication. Investigators were working to determine whether the medical condition or a mechanical failure caused the crash. Investigators will test the mechanics of the truck and examine the black box from the vehicle.
It was reported by ABC News that Abbott was not restricted from driving because of his medical condition.
Most commonly, heart attacks, strokes and epilepsy fits are medical situations that are considered sudden and unexpected. A driver suffering one of these conditions while driving can lose control of the car and cause a car accident.
For a person who suffers one of these while driving, there is a good chance that they will not be prosecuted for the way they were driving, as they had no control over the car at the time of the sudden illness. However a person who suffers a sudden illness and causes an accident while operating a vehicle, will, in some cases, need to pay compensation to the injured victims.
One factor that will be considered is whether the accident was caused by a sudden onset illness which the driver had no reason to think would happen. A driver would or world not be civilly liable for an accident that causes injury to another depending on whether or not the driver was aware of his medical condition. If that person was aware of the condition, he or she would have been obligated to take reasonable steps to ensure that he or she was driving safely. Similarly, if a person has a history of seizures, whether or not he or she should be driving will be a consideration.
More difficult questions arise when a driver suffers a medical emergency like a heart attack while driving and an accident results. Liability may depend on what the medical experts say. If a driver has a heart attack and injures another, a cardiologist may testify that while the driver was at risk, there was no way to reasonably foresee a heart attack. If this is the case, then the driver may avoid liability. On the other hand, if the testimony is that the driver knew he had coronary heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and a family history of cardiac arrests, then it may very well have been unreasonable for that driver to be behind the wheel of a car.
In an injury accident caused by a sudden and unexpected illness, understanding the medical evidence will be critical in determining civil liability.
The ABC News story cited is “Parents Say Goodbye to Their Infant Son.”