Determining who is legally responsible for a car accident can be a complicated process. The reality is that legal liability in a Houston automobile crash is not always a black and white matter. There are a number of defenses that may be available to a person who initially might be considered to bear primary responsibility for causing an automobile accident. One such potential defense is that of a so-called “sudden emergency.” In order for a sudden emergency defense to be available in a Texas car accident case, a number of elements must be satisfied:
Little or no time for deliberation
Immediate reaction required
Consideration of how a reasonably prudent person would react
Not consequence of particular driver’s negligence
Emergency not caused by person claiming defense
In order for a sudden emergency defense to be raised, the event truly must be unexpected. This element of the sudden emergency car accident defense refers to an event that was not foreseeable or anticipated by the person who is claiming the sudden emergency defense. For example, if a driver suddenly has a heart attack while driving, this very well could be considered an unexpected occurrence.
The event associated with a sudden emergency claim must present an imminent danger. This element requires that the sudden emergency presents a clear and immediate danger to the person claiming the defense or others. For example, if a driver suddenly sees a pedestrian in the road and swerves to avoid hitting them, this could be considered an imminent danger.
Little or No Time for Deliberation
In order for a sudden emergency defense to be pursued, the event at issue must provide little or no time for deliberation. In other words, the person claiming the sudden emergency defense did not have time to carefully consider their options and make a calculated decision. For example, if a driver suddenly sees a child run into the road and swerves to avoid hitting them, this would be considered a situation with little time for deliberation.
Immediate Reaction Required
The requirement of an immediate reaction is another element of a sudden emergency defense to a car accident. This component of the defense requires that the person claiming a sudden emergency defense had to take immediate action to address the danger. For example, if a driver suddenly sees a car heading towards them in the wrong lane and swerves to avoid a head-on collision, this could be considered a situation that requires prompt action.
Consideration of How a Reasonably Prudent Person Would React
The response and conduct of a person claiming a sudden emergency must have done what a reasonably prudent person would have done under similar circumstances. This particular element requires that the person’s response to the sudden emergency be reasonable and appropriate given the circumstances. For example, if a driver suddenly sees a pedestrian in the road and swerves to avoid hitting them, the driver’s response likely would be considered reasonable and appropriate given the circumstances.
Not a Consequence of a Particular Driver’s Negligence
The response to the alleged sudden emergency cannot be the result of the person’s own negligence. The sudden emergency cannot be caused by the person claiming the defense. For example, if a driver suddenly loses control of their car due to excessive speed or negligence, this would not be considered a sudden emergency.
Emergency Not Caused by Person Claiming Defense
The emergency cannot be caused by the person claiming it as a defense. This element is sometimes added to the six traditional elements mentioned previously. This element requires that the person claiming the sudden emergency defense did not cause it by their own actions or lack thereof. For example, if a driver falls asleep at the wheel and causes a collision, they would not be able to claim a sudden emergency defense.
If you require assistance with a Houston car accident lawsuit, the legal team at The Doan Law Firm is here for you. You can schedule a no-cost, no-obligation initial consultation with a Doan Law Firm Houston car accident lawyer by calling us at (800) 349-0000.
The Doan Law Firm has an attorney fee guarantee. Our firm never charges an attorney fee unless we win your case for you.