This unusual case has many twists and turns. The bottom line is whether or not a sudden medical emergency is a defense for wrongful death.
I’ve been practicing personal injury law in New Hampshire for over 27 years, and I’ve seen a lot of interesting cases and a lot of lives thrown into chaos. This case was interesting to me when I read about it, because it has a variety of elements that will make it a difficult case in the long run for the families of the two dead women who lost their lives in a bus crash.
In this instance, the young son of one of the deceased women filed a wrongful death suit against the driver of a tour bus and the tour bus company itself. The crash in question took place in 2009. The deceased was 52-years-old at the time of the wreck. She and several other people were on the bus that had taken them to a casino, when all of a sudden it went out of control, crossed the median and flipped over on its side in a ditch. Two passengers were killed and 20 others were seriously injured.
The woman’s son, who was 17 at the time of the wreck, filed the wrongful death suit when he turned 18 and is seeking compensation for the death of his mother. The suit argues that the driver of the bus failed to control it and was reckless and negligent in driving it, causing it to crash. The suit further alleges that the driver was unfit to be driving that day and that the bus tour company was negligent in entrusting their bus to his care.
The bus line company filed a countersuit asking to have the case dismissed, as they state the driver had a medical emergency that he didn’t cause to happen, and thus under the rule of law in the state where the accident took place (Minnesota), the crash was a “sudden, unforeseen medical emergency” and state law precludes any liability on the part of the defendants in those circumstances. They added the driver was fit to drive at the time of the crash.
The interesting thing here is that the driver alleges he lost consciousness because he had a rapid onset of an undiagnosed condition. This makes me consider something about human nature. If he lost consciousness then, due to a medical condition, chances are he had done that before and had not informed his employer because it hadn’t happened at work – yet. Certainly the case would bear closer scrutiny, but there are some warning flags for a personal injury attorney that would make me dig deeply into the bus driver’s medical condition.
Every personal injury case is different, and while things may look one way on the surface, what you find later may be something entirely different. Never take an accident at face value. Talk to a skilled New Hampshire personal injury attorney and find out if there is more than meets the eye in “your” personal injury accident.
Charlie Donahue is a New Hampshire personal injury lawyer located in Keene. Donahue handles injury cases in New Hampshire and across the United States. To learn more about New Hampshire injury attorney, Charlie Donahue, visit Donahuelawfirm.com.