A complex court case has resulted in one driver from the Australian Capital Territory receiving $414,000 after suffering car accident injuries that were allegedly caused by a motorist with a medical condition.
The Canberra Times' court reporters found that the claim came after 38-year-old Branka Matijevic suffered serious injuries in a 2009 car accident in Belconnen. The claim alleged that driver Darryl John Taylor drifted over the center median into oncoming traffic, crashing into Ms Matijevic's car.
Since the accident, the plaintiff claims she has suffered ongoing back pain and migraines that lingered long after her initial shoulder, hip, back and knee injuries had healed. Moreover, Ms Matijevic alleges she has suffered mental trauma from the accident, and that the day plays like "a constant video in her mind."
However, Mr Taylor contended he should not be held liable for the accident because of a medical condition that allegedly left him unconscious behind the wheel. According to Mr Taylor's statements, he remembers coughing while driving, but that the next thing he knew, he'd been involved in an accident.
Car accident lawyers contend the 'cough syncope' argument
Vasovagal syncope is a well-established and fairly common reaction, and occurs when the body experiences a sudden drop in heart rate and blood pressure, leading to fainting. Typically it is brought on by the body's overreaction to certain stimuli, such as the sight of blood or emotional distress.
However, in certain cases, severe coughing has been known to lead to vasovagal syncope, which is exactly what Mr. Taylor argued was the cause of the crash.
When medical experts were brought in, they concluded that it was entirely possible that a fit of coughing and the ensuing syncope could have caused the crash. But there were other circumstances that didn't sway Master David Massop, according to The Canberra Times.
Specifically, the sparse data that exists on the link between coughing and vasovagal syncope.
''In the light of the medical evidence it is clear that cough syncope is a possible explanation for the accident but, having regard to its rarity, I cannot say that it is likely in the sense of more probable than not,'' Master Mossop wrote.
''In those circumstances, I am satisfied that it is more likely than not that the accident was caused by the negligence of the first defendant."
The final award amounted to $414,434.