If someone causes an accident due to a supposed medical emergency, does that relieve them from fault?

I was involved in a head-on collision in which the other driver crossed the line into my lane. There were witnesses and he was subsequently arrested for DUI – illegal drug use. He is now claiming a medical emergency saying meds made him pass out at the wheel.

Asked on February 13, 2015 under Accident Law, Pennsylvania


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Whether or not the at-fault driver can successfully assert as a defense that his medication caused him to pass out depends on the facts of the particular case.

If he knew or should have known that the medication would cause him to pass out behind the wheel, he does not have a valid defense.

If your state has comparative negligence, he may be held liable based on a percentage of fault.  This means you would he compensated for the accident, but not 100% of the amount you are claiming.

Since the driver was arrested for DUI - illegal drug use, his claim that his medication caused him to pass out may not succeed since he was using illegal drugs in addition to his medication.

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