Sudden Medical Emergency Is Affirmative Defense: So Says The Pennsylvania Superior Court

Shiner v. Ralston, 1791 MDA 2011 (Pa. Super. Feb. 22, 2013)

“[T]he sudden medical emergency defense is an affirmative defense often pled as sudden loss of consciousness or incapacitation. Since the defense avoids negligence, it must be pled as new matter and proven by the defendant.” The Court distinguished the sudden medical emergency defense from the “sudden emergency doctrine” in that the latter “relates to the standard of conduct applied to ‘a driver who, although driving in a prudent manner, is confronted with a sudden or unexpected event which leaves little or no time to apprehend a situation and act accordingly should not be subject to liability because another perhaps more prudent course of action was available.’

At Liever, Hyman & Potter we often face these kinds of defenses presented by lawyers on behalf of motorists that cause severe injuries to our clients. The claims may be that “I blacked out” or “I must have had a heart attack or a seizure” and “that’s why I drove into the oncoming lane” or “missed that stop sign.” Now the defendant has to plead that defense in writing at the beginning of the lawsuit and has the burden of proving the medical excuse. We know how to combat these defenses and present persuasive evidence for our clients . If you have been hurt in an accident and the other driver claims it was an Act of God or that he suffered from a medical emergency consult an attorney. At Liever, Hyman & Potter we have been handling these kinds of cases since 1959. Our office is in Reading PA and we service all of Central and Eastern Pennsylvania including Berks and Schuylkill Counties. Some of our clients come from the Pottsville area as well as Reading, Wyomissing, Boyertown, Kutztown, Pottstown, Lebanon, Lancaster and most other nearby communities.

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