Drowsy drivers are a danger to everyone on the road, including themselves. The lack of awareness, especially at high speeds, can cause devastating accidents and result in injuries or even fatalities. Personal injury law allows victims of drowsy or fatigued drivers an avenue to compensation through civil court, and an experienced drowsy driving car accident lawyer can help, ensuring you receive fast and fair compensation.
What Are the Dangers of Drowsy Driving?
The dangers of drowsy driving are similar to those associated with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol:
- Impaired judgment and reaction time. Like alcohol, fatigue slows reaction time and clouds the ability to make snap judgments. A drowsy driver may not brake in time or make safe decisions on the road.
- Decreased attention. Fatigued drivers can struggle to keep their attention on the road. Moments of inattention can lead to missing key signs, signals or sudden changes in traffic conditions.
- Memory lapses. Tiredness can cause short-term memory problems, causing drivers to forget the last few minutes of their journey and increasing the risk of accidents.
- High risk of microsleeps. These are very short periods of sleep or blackouts that can last a few seconds. Even a brief microsleep can be catastrophic at highway speeds.
- Increased aggressiveness. Lack of sleep can lead to mood swings and aggressive behaviors, causing erratic and unsafe driving. Tailgating is a typical aggressive driving move that can result in severe accidents, especially when combined with impaired reaction time.
Truck drivers are common drowsy driving offenders. The pressure of deadlines and speed incentivizing may lead them to drive when tired. Accidents involving commercial truck drivers are often the most severe and deadly.
Common Causes of Drowsy Driving
Recognizing the common causes of drowsy driving can help us build a case against the at-fault driver in your claim. For example, individuals who work rotating shifts, night shifts or long hours often have disrupted sleep patterns. This irregular schedule can lead to sleep deprivation and increase the possibility of driving while fatigued.
Some over-the-counter and prescription medications have side effects that induce drowsiness. Driving after consuming them without understanding the impact can be risky. Additionally, conditions like sleep apnea, insomnia and narcolepsy can lead to excessive daytime sleepiness. Individuals with untreated sleep disorders are more likely to feel drowsy while driving.
Alcohol consumption is another issue. Even small amounts that test below the legal limit can amplify tiredness. Combining this with driving on long, straight and featureless roads can lead to highway hypnosis, causing the driver to lose focus and feel drowsy.
Who Is Liable for Damages in a Drowsy Driving Car Accident Case?
Determining liability in a drowsy driving case may seem direct. However, more than one party can sometimes be liable for damages. The primary liability often rests with the driver who chose to drive while fatigued. Their negligence is usually the leading cause of the accident. However, other potentially liable parties under specific circumstances include:
- Employers. In cases where commercial drivers, such as truckers, choose to drive while drowsy, the employer can be liable. If they encouraged or turned a blind eye to long, unsafe operating hours, they contributed to the accident and resulting damages.
- Medication manufacturers. The manufacturer could be partially responsible for the accident if a driver were under the influence of a medication that caused drowsiness without adequate warnings.
- Vehicle manufacturers. In the rare case of a vehicle defect or malfunction exacerbating the accident, the manufacturer might share the liability.
- Other entities. In some situations, entities responsible for road design or maintenance can be liable for accidents if road conditions contribute to the crash.
When cases involve more than one liable party, you may have a single personal injury claim with multiple defendants or more than one lawsuit. For example, when a medication or vehicle manufacturer is partially liable, we may file a product liability claim against the company separately from the car accident claim against the driver.
What if You Are Partially Liable for the Accident?
Every state mandates the laws that govern car accident cases involving shared fault. For example, the court will apply the modified comparative negligence rule in South Carolina. It states that your share of responsibility will impact the amount of compensation you receive. However, you will still receive a portion of the damages as long as you are not more than 50% responsible for the accident than the drowsy driver.
For example, if the court finds you 20% at fault for the accident and values your losses at $100,000, you will still be able to recover 80% of the damages, amounting to $80,000. However, if the court found you 51% liable or more, you could not recover damages. If you believe you may share fault for your accident, our car accident attorney can help you understand how that may impact your case and come up in negotiations.
What Damages Can You Recover From a Civil Claim?
The compensatory damages available from a car accident case will vary based on the severity of the accident and injuries. They cover the financial and non-economic losses associated with the case. Common examples include:
- The cost of immediate medical treatment and projected future medical care
- The loss of income or earning capacity
- The cost of repairing your damaged vehicle or replacing it if it is irreparable
- The pain and suffering associated with your injuries and the necessary medical care
- The loss of your ability to enjoy life as you did before the accident
Your legal representative will identify all the recoverable damages available in your case and help you gather the evidence necessary to prove your losses. This includes the sometimes complex process of assigning monetary value to non-economic damages.
How Can Our Drowsy Driving Car Accident Lawyer Help You Build a Case?
Our drowsy driving car accident attorney will build a solid case for compensation so you can focus on healing from your injuries and rebuilding your life after a devastating accident. Some elements of our job include:
- Investigating the accident to determine the cause and gather evidence to prove the fatigued driver’s negligence or identify other liable parties
- Consulting with medical professionals to understand the extent of your injuries and value future care you may need
- Using the evidence collected to negotiate with insurance companies for a fair settlement
- Representing you in trial if the insurer does not present an adequate settlement offer
- Guiding you through the nuances of a car accident lawsuit and ensuring no one violates your rights
Engaging with our drowsy driving car accident lawyer ensures the defendant and their insurance provider take your demands seriously. We allow victims to focus on their recovery with the confidence that we will defend their rights and interests aggressively.
When Should You Contact Our Drowsy Driving Car Accident Attorney?
Drowsy driving is a dangerous action that can lead to substantial physical, emotional and financial losses. You can contact our law firm immediately if you sustained an injury or lost a loved one in an accident involving a fatigued driver. We understand the need for fast action to ensure you receive fair compensation from the party liable for your losses, and we offer compassionate support and tenacious representation to fight for it. Contact Jeffcoat Law Firm to schedule your free consultation with a drowsy driving car accident lawyer today. We charge no upfront fees and only get paid if we win your case.