The Roads Were Icy; A Deer Jumped Into My Path; I Had A Diabetic Reaction — The Defense Of Sudden Emergency In A Car Accident Case

Let’s start this discussion with how the law handles sudden emergencies. Tennessee law recognizes that a driver faced with an unexpected or sudden emergency which calls for immediate action is unlikely to exercise the same good judgment as a driver who is operating his vehicle under normal circumstances.   In the past, a sudden emergency could constitute a complete defense to an injury claim. However, under current Tennessee law, a sudden emergency is just another factor for the judge or jury to consider when determining if the defendant was at-fault for the car accident. 

So with that in mind, let’s look at some of the examples above. Icy roads might constitute a sudden emergency, but a judge or jury is less likely to excuse the defendant if he or she was driving too fast for the road conditions. Or, if the defendant driver was texting and driving and failed to brake until the last minute and then slid on ice, the defense is  not going to be of much help to the defendant.   Many of the same considerations apply to the situation where a deer suddenly appears in your path. 

In the diabetic reaction example, to decide whether the sudden emergency defense might apply, we would want to know how long the defendant had been diagnosed with diabetes and therefore how experienced he or she was in managing his blood sugar. We would also want to know what the defendant ate and drank that day, what physical activity the defendant had engaged in, did the defendant take their insulin, what the defendant’s blood sugar readings had been in the days leading up to the accident, etc. If the evidence demonstrates the defendant had failed to properly manage his diabetes, then the defense of sudden emergency is less likely to be successful.

In short, if the sudden emergency is of the defendant’s making, either in whole or in part, the doctrine is less likely to excuse the defendant’s conduct.   At the Law Offices of John Day, our award-winning attorneys are experienced in handling cases in which the defendant attempts to use the doctrine of sudden emergency, and we know how to successfully combat that defense.  In fact, John  confronted a sudden emergency defense in his first jury trial in June of 1982 and countered the defense with the testimony of a witness from Kentucky who happened to observe the wreck.  We have recovered in excess of $100 million dollars for our satisfied clients and we would like to help you too. Contact us online or call us anytime at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787 for a free, no-obligation consultation.