Road Traffic Accidents – No Fault Accidents-Compensation Injured Victims-Deceased-Dependants
If a person has a sudden heart attack whilst driving a car and causes an accident resulting in death for injury to others there may not be any claim for compensation.
To succeed in a claim for death or personal injury involving an incident where a heart attack or stroke has occurred to a driver, the victim must prove negligence or blame before compensation can be paid. The injured person or the representatives on behalf of the deceased must prove there was fault on behalf of the driver who suffered from a medical condition. If there was no history of any heart complaint or other medical condition that would affect that person’s ability to drive safely there may not be any claim for compensation. The accident victim or representative of the deceased could possibly claim if the driver knew or ought to have known that the medical condition may affect his or her ability to drive a car safely or was feeling unwell shortly before the car accident. Proof will be needed and witness statements passengers and independent witness will be crucial in addition to obtaining details of the medical history of the driver who suffered from the heart attack, stroke or other medical condition.
Whilst heart attacks and strokes causing a driver behind the wheel to lose control of a car giving rise to injury or death are statistically rare, nevertheless the consequences can be devastating. Whilst Insurance Companies for the driver may look upon claims by accident victims sympathetically nevertheless it still means that there is a discretion by the Insurance company to award any compensation.
Accident victims who have sustained injury or death from a driver who suffers from a heart attack, stroke or other medical condition that affects their ability to driver a car safely may be faced with a complete defence by the driver’s Insurer called “automatism” or involuntary action. It is said that it is not the driver’s fault to have a heart attack behind the wheel, but it does happen and the law should be changed to bring in no-fault accident compensation claims.
The issue of no fault accident claims have been discussed and mooted for many years but the law still remains. An accident victim who has sustained an injury or death still needs to prove fault on behalf of the other driver. In other Countries such as New Zealand and some states in America no fault systems have been in operation that would lessen the impact upon accident death victims and their families.
No fault accident change in the law has been raised periodically through the Motor Accident Injury Compensation Bill, introduced in both 1998 and 1999 but the law has not been passed and innocent injury victims and family dependents of the deceased are left without redress and compensation.
Contrast the injustice on having to prove fault against a driver with a medical condition to that of the Motor Insurer Bureau (MIB) which is a general compensation fund set up to compensate victims of motor accidents where the person “at fault” does not have insurance or is untraced as he or she fails to stop at the scene of the accident. If this occurs the MIB will pay the victim compensation. Contrast further another Scheme set up to compensate victims of crime who suffer injury or death under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). Again compensation is available to victims.
As the number of victims injured or killed on the road due to automatism from heart attacks, strokes or other medical conditions are relatively rare there should no doubt be a change in the law to compensate innocent victims. The fund set aside by insurers to compensative victims will be relatively low due to the numbers involved and will make a life changing difference to the victims and family dependent of the deceased.
To do nothing is a continuing injustice to the victims and their families.