Court Holds Bus Driver Can Be Held Strictly Liable After She Became Suddenly Unconscious on School Trip

In a recent case, one state’s supreme court considered whether a high school bus driver could be held strictly liable after she suddenly lost consciousness while behind the wheel. The driver was taking students back from a high school band competition when she experienced a sudden and unforeseeable loss of consciousness, causing the bus to roll over. Several passengers were injured and filed a lawsuit against the driver. After filing the lawsuit, the passengers argued that they were entitled to summary judgment in their favor and that the insurance company was liable for their injuries under strict liability.

School BusA state law required drivers to have motor vehicle liability insurance policies to “cover damages or injury resulting from a covered driver of a motor vehicle” who suddenly and unforeseeably becomes incapacitated. The passengers argued that the state law meant that they were not required to prove negligence when someone suddenly loses consciousness, and that the insurance company was strictly liable in those cases. The insurance company argued that the statute only meant that insurance had to be provided for those circumstances.

The issue before the state’s supreme court was whether the state law imposed strict liability on an insured driver for damages to others resulting from the driver’s unforeseeable loss of consciousness. The state’s supreme court agreed with the passengers. It concluded that the state law imposed strict liability for those covered by the statute, and that the passengers did not need to prove negligence. Because drivers were strictly liable, this meant that the insurance company was also responsible.

Unforeseeable Loss of Consciousness Defense in Florida

Under Florida law, unforeseeable loss of consciousness while driving is a defense to a negligence claim. For a driver to successfully establish an unforeseeable loss of consciousness defense, however, the loss of consciousness must be completely unexpected and unforeseeable. If the driver had any kind of warning or sign that he or she may be at risk for a heart attack, a stroke, or other medical condition, the jury can consider whether the driver’s actions were reasonable. In these cases, having a skilled attorney is essential. For example, knowing where to find certain records and how to obtain them is extremely important, including the defendant’s medical and driving records.

Contact a Miami Car Accident Attorney

In Florida, as in other states, all motorists owe a duty of reasonable care to other drivers and pedestrians. Any motorist who breaches this duty and injures someone as a result is liable for any injuries and property damage caused. At Friedman, Rodman, & Frank, our attorneys have excellent reputations for integrity, skillfulness, and vigorous advocacy. We are prepared to fight your case up to and including through trial. If you have been involved in a car accident in Miami or elsewhere in South Florida, contact our office at 877-448-8585 to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Miami car accident attorney.

More Blog Posts:

Employer’s Failure to Conduct Thorough Background Investigation May Be Basis for Liability in Employee’s DUI Accident, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published February 22, 2017.

Court Characterizes Doctor’s Office Slip-and-Fall Accident as a Medical Malpractice Incident, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published March 9, 2017.

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