Unfortunately, car accidents happen for many reasons. Drivers may be distracted. Bad weather can make visibility difficult and stopping even harder. Perhaps the other car ran a red light and struck you. Another, less frequent cause for car collisions is what Ohio law calls a “sudden medical emergency.” It’s important to know what is (and is not) a sudden medical emergency (“SME”) because the condition may excuse the driver who suffered one from paying for injuries or damages he or she caused.
Ohio first recognized “sudden medical emergency” as an excuse (or legal defense) for automotive negligence in 1956. In Lehman v. Haynam, the Ohio Supreme Court described SME as an instance, “where the driver of an automobile is suddenly stricken by a period of unconsciousness which he had no reason to anticipate and which renders it impossible for him to control the car he is driving. . . .” But does this mean that a driver who fell asleep behind the wheel and hit you is not liable for injuries he/she caused? No, not at all. Continue reading