Written by attorney Bruce Robert Millar

How Georgia's law of "sudden emergency" can apply to motor vehicle accidents:

When it comes to considering who may be at fault in a car, truck or motorcycle accident (or other motor vehicle crash or collision) Georgia law allows the application of something known as the "sudden emergency doctrine." Under the Georgia laws regarding negligence, an emergency can be defined as any event or combination of circumstances that calls for immediate action without time for deliberate exercise of judgment or discretion. This "doctrine" of sudden emergency applies only to those actions immediately following the perception of danger and before there is time for the person reacting to weigh his or her options. Before the doctrine of sudden emergency can apply, to circumstances must exist: first, the person faced with the sudden emergency must have available alternatives; secondly, there must be sufficient time and the opportunity for the person facing the emergency to take some different or additional action to avoid the injury. Thus, where the person has no choice, the sudden emergency doctrine is not applicable. What does all of this mean? The sudden emergency doctrine means that a person who is presented with a sudden emergency is not negligent if he or she has insufficient time to react and form a judgment about what to do. For example, if someone suddenly pulls out in front of you as you are driving on a Georgia Highway or road, and you do not have time to react to avoid a collision, you are not negligent (you were faced with a "sudden emergency." On the other hand, if someone pulls out in front of you and it can be proven that there was sufficient time for you to avoid crashing into the car or truck, you cannot simply run into the vehicle.

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