Monday, January 10, 2011

DUI Appeal of the Day (DAD) - The “blackout” defense

The case of Mahanes v. Shugars, --- S.W.3d ----, 2011 WL 43302 (Ky.App.) is not a DUI case. It is a personal injury lawsuit where Mahanes admitted causing the collision that injured the plaintiff. The defendant alleged he suffered a blackout that caused him to lose control of his car and eventually strike Mahanes' truck, and was therefore not responsible for the accident. In Kentucky, this is known as the 'blackout defense'. Many states have such a defense, which relieves the defendant of civil liability.

Under the “blackout” defense,

"where the driver of a motor vehicle suddenly becomes physically or mentally incapacitated without warning, he is not liable for injury resulting from the operation of the vehicle while so incapacitated. However, once a prima facie case of negligence has been made against the defendant he must demonstrate that the sudden illness or incapacity could not have been anticipated or foreseen."

Trial evidence covering two days showed Shugars' blood pressure was 240/136 soon after the crash. He was treated for hypertension, kidney failure and swelling of the brain. The jury

Editor's thoughts: If a 'blackout' can be used to avoid civil liability, then proof of a blackout (as opposed to intoxication) should have an equal or better footing in a criminal DUI case... just thinking....

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