A Calgary personal injury lawyer continues to reflect on the implications of a recent accident triggered by a medical episode.
In Part 1 of this article, we looked at the facts — or at least, the facts as they have been reported in Calgary media — of a recent tragic accident here in Calgary that claimed two lives and will undoubtedly weigh heavily on a third. The driver of a work van reportedly suffered a seizure or a similar medical incident, losing control of his vehicle and colliding at high speed with a passenger vehicle, killing both of the occupants inside. The driver of the work van, meanwhile, was last reported in stable condition.
That this incident is tragic for all three of the individuals directly involved, as well as their friends and family, is clear. Less clear are the legal implications of this incident concerning liability and a potential wrongful death case. While we cannot comment on this case specifically, as we do not possess all the facts and would not make a vocal judgment on a public forum such as this blog, we can discuss some of the general legal concepts involved.
Calgary Wrongful Death Claims Require Negligence
All personal injury cases in Calgary, including wrongful death cases, hinge upon the legal concept of negligence. Simply put, in order for a person or organization to be held liable for the damages that arise out of an accident, it must be shown that the person or organization was negligent in allowing unsafe conditions or behaving in an unsafe manner, and that their negligence is what caused the accident.
Under most circumstances, a driver moving at high speed in a Calgary parking lot—where lower speeds are legally required, and where any reasonable adult could see that high speeds would be especially unsafe—and slamming into another vehicle that had the right of way would almost certainly be deemed negligent and therefore liable for the accident and its outcomes. In this case, however, the intervening medical incident that caused the “at fault” driver’s behavior could be put forth as a defence.
Certainly, if the facts as presented in the media are indeed the facts of the case, the driver of the work van was not purposefully reckless, and did not consciously choose to drive in an unsafe manner, that could potentially limit the driver’s legal liability. This is referred to as the defence of inevitable accident. However, in order to be successful, it must be proven that the driver was not previously aware of this medical condition, did not experience symptoms prior that should have indicated a driving impairment and did not have the opportunity to avoid the accident by taking reasonable precautions.
At Cuming & Gillespie LLP, we have succeeded in having a defence of inevitable accident thrown out where the evidence put forth by the Defendant did not meet the required burden of proof. In situations like this, it is important to seek competent legal advice before assuming that you have no case or that the accident could not have been avoided.
All Calgary Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Cases are Unique
While the facts of some accidents may be more clear cut than others, there is no such thing as a simple personal injury or wrongful death case in Calgary. If you have questions regarding an accident in which you or a family member was seriously harmed, protect your rights by contacting a dedicated and compassionate Calgary personal injury lawyer today.