Hammontree v. Jenner

20 Cal. App. 3d 528, 97 Cal. Rptr. 739 (1971)



The liability of a driver who is suddenly stricken by an illness rendering him unconscious rests on principles of negligence for an injury resulting from an accident.


Plaintiffs sued defendant for personal injuries and property damage arising out of an automobile accident. Defendant testified to a history of epilepsy and that he had lost consciousness prior to the crash and had not regained it until he was being taken out of his car in plaintiff's shop. The cause was tried to a jury. Plaintiffs appealed from a judgment returned against them and in favor of defendant. On appeal, the court affirmed the judgment.


Did the lower court err in refusing to give an absolute liability instruction pertaining to defendant's operation of his vehicle while having knowledge of his history of epilepsy?




The court affirmed, holding that principles of negligence applied to the liability of a driver for injuries resulting from an accident that occurred during the time in which the driver was suddenly stricken by an illness rendering him unconscious. The instruction tendered by appellants was properly refused. Principles of negligence govern personal injury cases arising out of automobile accidents.

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