The “sudden emergency doctrine” is an affirmative defense that may be offered to defendants in personal injury cases under restricted situations in specific jurisdictions. When a defendant is confronted with a sudden and unexpected scenario that is not of the defendant’s creation, he or she must simply respond as a reasonable person in that situation would act. The “sudden emergency doctrine” basically modifies the concept of negligence by altering the level of care that the defendant is subjected to. Rather than acting as a fairly cautious person in the context of the wider circumstances, the defendant just needs to conduct as a reasonably competent person would in an identical emergency scenario.
Common Elements in “Sudden Emergency Doctrine”
States that accept the “sudden emergency” rule normally do so not because of specific legislation, but because the rule has been recognized by the state’s courts in numerous cases over the years. As a result, there are no doctrinal aspects that are generally applicable throughout all states. To invoke the “sudden emergency” defense, the defendant must generally demonstrate that, in the circumstances of the underlying accident:
- A sudden, unforeseen circumstance happened,
- The situation was not of the defendant’s making, and
- during the sudden, unexpected crisis, the defendant responded as a reasonable person would.
The “sudden emergency doctrine” basically modifies the concept of negligence by altering the level of care that the defendant is subjected to. Rather than acting as a fairly cautious person in the context of the wider circumstances, the defendant just needs to conduct as a reasonably competent person would in an identical emergency scenario.
What comes under “Sudden Emergency Doctrine”?
The sorts of scenarios that qualify as a “sudden emergency” differ by state, but they always leave the accused with no opportunity to escape the emergency or react appropriately in any other manner.
Weather conditions: If the conditions are exceedingly uncommon for the region, a dirt funnel or thick fog blowing over the route and significantly restricting drivers’ eyesight might be called a “sudden emergency.” A driver who strikes a piece of black ice, on the other hand, is unlikely to be able to claim a “sudden emergency,” because black ice is common in snowy, frigid weather.
Sudden Stops: Some states consider a lead vehicle’s abrupt halt to be a “sudden emergency,” which excuses or restricts culpability for a rear-end crash. Other states, on the other hand, disagree, stating that drivers must always maintain a safe space between cars.
Medical Emergencies: Medical emergencies are frequently classified as “sudden emergencies,” which absolve the unwell driver of guilt in the event of a subsequent automobile collision, as the incident was caused by an event far beyond the driver’s control. A motorist who has a medical emergency may be knocked unconscious as a result of an utterly unanticipated medical occurrence, with no way to avoid the scenario.
If you’ve been involved in an accident where the “sudden emergency” defense may apply, it’s time to call a skilled Autrey Law firm personal injury attorney, as the application of this rule has a lot riding on it.