Massachusetts courts do recognize that when a driver suffers a sudden medical emergency immediately prior to a car accident, he or she cannot be found liable for the crash. Applicability of the sudden medical emergency doctrine continues to be weighed by courts in the Commonwealth, as the defense always raises questions as to whether the medical emergency was foreseeable (i.e., was it sudden seizure or someone who knew they had epilepsy? etc.), and also whether strict liability may apply anyway.
Some states have considered sudden medical emergency to be an absolute defense against liability in a traffic accident (see the Ohio Supreme Court’s 2003 decision in Roman v. Estate of Gobbo).
Recently, the Utah Supreme Court considered this issue, finding that strict liability can still be imposed on a driver who suffers sudden incapacity. The case involves a motor coach driver who suffered a sudden and unforeseeable loss of consciousness. Continue reading