An unavoidable accident is an accident which happens purely by chance, not an accident which happens because a driver made a mistake—in other words, no one is liable for an unavoidable accident if there was no negligence involved. Though, this can be a very complex legal case.
Unavoidable auto accidents are rare, but can include:
- A wasp stinging the driver
- A medical emergency such as a driver’s heart attack
- A weather incident such as a windstorm, rainstorm, flood or ice storm
- Leakage of oil or gas from the vehicle, causing an accident
- Collapse of a building or bridge
- Vehicle malfunction due to manufacturer error
The legal definition of an unavoidable car accident is restrictive—it must be shown the event was unforeseeable by use of reasonable human intelligence, and a human was not the prime cause of the damage. The accident must be unusual for the time and place to be considered an unavoidable auto accident.
The Inevitable Accident Defense
In a personal injury case for an auto accident, the plaintiff has the burden to prove that the defendant is responsible for the accident. However, when the defendant was involved in the accident but an unforeseen, nonhuman condition caused his or her vehicle to crash into yours, then the jury can decide if the unforeseen condition was the cause of the crash, and not the defendant. So, the inevitable accident defense says that if the driver responsible for the accident was not negligent, then he is not liable for the damages to the other driver’s vehicle and person—but this is murky territory.
Consider this—a road covered in black ice. One driver skids on the black ice, hitting another. The icy road does not render the accident inevitable. Perhaps there were weather warnings which told drivers about the black ice, and to stay off the streets. Or, perhaps the driver lived in the area for a considerable amount of time, and knew—or should have known—there was often black ice in that area. If either of these are true, the inevitable accident defense is unlikely to succeed. A second inevitable accident case scenario could be a driver who loses consciousness and hits another driver. The accident might be considered inevitable, however if the driver had a history of losing consciousnes or a known medical condition which could cause a loss of consciousness, then the inevitable accident defense will probably not work. Finally, a third inevitable accident case scenario involves a collision with an animal. If a deer darts in front of a driver out of the blue, and the driver has no time to react, hitting another driver, then it could be considered inevitable. However, if the driver was well aware that deer are frequently on that road and wasn’t taking special precautions, or if the driver was speeding, therefore unable to avoid the deer, the inevitable accident defense is less likely to work.
What if No “Proof” Exists for an Inevitable Accident?
As you can see, the problem with the inevitable accident defense lies in the fact that there is rarely validating evidence. If you are the driver who hits a deer, loses consciousness, is stung by a wasp or has a sudden brake failure, causing you to crash into another driver unless you have a passenger in the car with you who can testify on your behalf, it is your word against the other driver’s. Or, perhaps you are on the other side, dealing with an insurance company who is arguing the accident was unavoidable, therefore you are due no compensation. In most inevitable accident examples, there may still be an element of negligence which occurred simultaneously with what seemed inevitable. The driver only has to exercise reasonable care and caution, assuming he or she has the scope to do so. These situations can be very complex; therefore, it is essential that you contact an experienced accident attorney if you are in either of these situations.
Contact Our Colorado Car Accident Attorneys
McDivitt Law Firm has the experience and the knowledge to tackle complex car accident injury cases in Colorado. Our lawyers know how to negotiate with insurance companies and obtain maximum compensation for clients injured in a car accident. Contact us now for a free consultation or call us toll-free at (877) 846-4878.