Sudden Emergency Accidents Florida Law

In the law, the sudden emergency defense is a doctrine of tort law in which a person who is confronted with a sudden and unexpected perilous situation, not of his or her own making and who acts as would a reasonably prudent person under the circumstances, will not be held liable even if later reflection shows that the wisest course was not chosen.

Therefore, the “sudden emergency doctrine” means that the person driving is not be held to the same standard of care as someone who had time to think about and choose an alternative course of action. Someone faced with a sudden emergency can raise this doctrine as a defense when he shows that he exercised the same degree of care that an ordinary prudent person, under the circumstances would have used under the same or similar circumstances.

In order for this defense to apply, the driver must show that (1) the claimed emergency actually or apparently existed: (2) the perilous situation was not created or contributed to by the defendant; (3) that an alternative course of action in meeting the emergency was open to the person and (4) that the course of action taken was one that would or might have been taken by a person of reasonable prudence in the same or similar situation.

An example of when this defense may be used in a lawsuit is one where a driver may have had an unexpected heart attack or unanticipated loss of consciousness while driving. Some jurisdictions have also classified this as an “Act of God” defense. This is not always something that is easy to prove, and will require the experience of lawyers such as the ones at Rue & Ziffra. When this type of case is presented to a jury, the court may consider a variety of factors such as the amount of knowledge a driver had with regard to possible incapacitation from past experience or medical advice.

This may apply in a situation like someone who is a known diabetic and they did not eat when they should, thus having a reaction that they should have been able to prevent. The events and factors leading up to the medical emergency and accident will be carefully considered. A situation in which this defense may not apply is one where a person is drinking coffee while driving and they “choke” or pass out. In the law, the judge or jury may determine that a driver’s first responsibility is paying attention to the road and operating the vehicle in a safe manner, rather than drinking while driving.


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For over 40 Years, Rue & Ziffra Law Offices and Attorneys have provided legal expertise and results for those who have been affected by an Auto Accident and Car Accident in Bunnell, Daytona Beach, DeBary, DeLand, Deltona, Edgewater, Flagler Beach, New Smyrna, Orlando, Ormond Beach, Palm Coast, Port Orange and Sanford.