If you’ve been injured by the acts of another party, you may have many questions as to who is at fault and whether you have a valid personal injury claim. The other party or their insurance company may attempt to claim that their actions were the result of a sudden emergency or unavoidable accident. So, what are your options?
In Texas, the sudden emergency and unavoidable accident defenses may be used to combat or reduce a defendant’s liability due to the existence of a sudden, unexpected emergency or unavoidable event not caused by the wrongdoing of any party involved. As simple as these defenses sound, they are notoriously misused by many insurance companies in denying an injured party fair compensation for a legitimate claim. The truth is, most incidents claimed to be accidents are avoidable, and are used by insurance companies in hopes that you drop your personal injury claim.
In Texas, an “unavoidable accident” is an event that is not caused by the negligence of any party involved, and which cannot be prevented by the exercise of due care. “Sudden emergencies” are sudden, unexpected events that lead to split-second decisions that ultimately cause or contribute to an incident. Whether the defendant will be held liable for their actions depends on the reasonableness of their actions under the circumstances.
The “unavoidable accident” and “sudden emergency” defenses are used to absolve a party from liability by asserting that the occurrence was simply an accident through the fault of no one, or a sudden emergency that could not have been foreseen and prevented. Examples include inclement weather like snow, rain, or ice that made the road slick and led to a collision; an animal running into the street causing a vehicle to abruptly swerve; a heavy windstorm causing apartment fixtures to fall from an elevated balcony; or an unforeseen medical condition which cause a person to lose control of their vehicle. While these may seem like plausible arguments given the facts listed above, the defendant can still be held liable if it can be established that they were acting negligent or unreasonable under the circumstances. For example, if the defendant is speeding, following too closely, or makes an unsafe lane change in inclement weather, you still have a right to recover. If a driver is on their phone or not paying attention when an animal runs across the street and swerves into a crowd of people, the driver can and should be held liable. If an apartment complex has knowledge of their balcony fixtures previously falling and did nothing to secure the fixtures to prevent them from falling again, you have a right to recover. If an individual who has a history of seizures is advised by his or her doctor not to drive, and gets behind the wheel of a vehicle and causes a collision, they should be held liable for your injuries.
In order for a defendant or their insurance company to successfully assert the unavoidable accident and sudden emergency defenses, they have to present sufficient evidence supporting their claim. Do not let an insurance company deny your claim without knowing all of the facts.
If you or someone you know has been denied compensation after an insurance company asserts their insured is not at fault due to an unavoidable accident or sudden emergency, contact an experienced attorney who has the experience and adequate resources to investigate your case, and help you obtain the compensation that you deserve. The law firm of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner is the longest standing personal injury firm in Texas and has successfully represented many individuals and families who have who have been injured by others claiming not to be at fault. Call us today at 713-222-7211 or 1-800-870-9584 for your free in person or virtual consultation.