Did you know that drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as driving while under the influence? This is because drowsiness, like alcohol, slows a driver’s reaction time, impairs judgment, and decreases awareness ─ all of which ultimately increases a person’s chances of crashing.
Although sleepiness and driving are a dangerous combination, many people continue to get behind the wheel while fatigued. This decision can have devastating consequences for anyone else who is unlucky enough to be on the road with the fatigued driver.
If you have been injured in a crash caused by a drowsy driver, you need to understand your legal rights. You may be entitled to payment for your medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering. To learn more about filing a personal injury claim against the driver who caused your crash, please contact a drowsy driving accident lawyer from Burch Law Firm now.
We can explain all your legal options in a free consultation.
What to Do If You’ve Been Hit by a Drowsy Driver
Car accidents involving drowsy driving tend to be particularly traumatic, as they often occur at high speeds and involve devastating injuries. Because they typically occur in the early morning or late-night hours, drowsy driving accidents can be especially disorienting, as well.
Still, it is important for those who find themselves in these traumatic situations to take action to protect their legal rights. This includes:
- Seeking emergency medical assistance for injuries
- Obtaining the contact information of the other parties involved
- Taking photographs of the scene of the accident, including damage to the vehicles and injuries
- Collecting the contact information of any witnesses who saw the accident occur
- Obtaining a copy of the police report written by the officer who responded to the accident
- Retaining copies of all treatment-related documents, including invoices and bills
You should also contact an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible after your crash. Your car accident lawyer will work with a team of investigators and experts to collect additional evidence, such as possible surveillance videos and reconstruction analysis. Your attorney will want to work quickly to preserve evidence before it disappears.
Compensation After a Drowsy Driving Accident
Accidents caused by drowsy driving tend to result in serious injuries and extensive property damage. Injured parties who can prove that another person’s negligent, reckless, or unlawful conduct caused their accident are often able to recover damages to compensate them for related losses. This may include payment for:
- Past and future medical expenses for emergency treatment, diagnosis, and rehabilitation
- The cost of repairing or replacing a damaged vehicle
- Lost wages incurred by the injured party as a result of his or her injuries
- Reduced earning potential for the future
- Pain and suffering endured by the injured party as a result of his or her injuries
- Permanent disfigurement or disability
To learn more about the types of damages for which you could be eligible after a car accident with a drowsy driver, please contact our legal team today.
What Causes Drowsy Driving?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that falling asleep at the wheel causes 91,000 car accidents every year. Although it is true that anyone can fall asleep at the wheel, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) asserts that certain individuals are more at risk, including:
- Individuals who are sleep deprived, or who get less than six hours of sleep per night
- Drivers who must travel long distances
- Drivers with untreated sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea
- Drivers who are taking medications, whether prescription or over the counter, that cause drowsiness
- Motorists who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Motorists who work irregular hours or who must drive at night
- Drivers who travel regularly between the hours of 12:00 and 6:00 a.m.
Individuals who fall under one or more of these categories are much more at risk of falling asleep at the wheel. Unfortunately, many people are unaware that they are putting others at risk when driving while fatigued. Others just fail to take preventive measures, despite knowing that they are too tired to drive safely.
How to Recognize Drowsy Driving?
As drivers, it’s usually pretty obvious when we are suffering from a lack of sleep. It is much more difficult, however, to tell when another driver is drowsy. Fortunately, there are a few signs that are indicative that another driver is sleep-deprived, including:
- Excessive yawning
- Drifting into another lane
- Hitting a rumble strip
- Swerving, speeding, or traveling far below the speed limit
Motorists who see other drivers exhibiting this type of behavior should use extra care to avoid the dangerous driver.
Drowsy Driving and Sleep Apnea
Many drowsy driving accidents are not caused by a person who merely fell asleep at the wheel after a late night, but can be linked to a serious sleep disorder such as sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing repeatedly stops and starts because his or her upper airway becomes blocked during the night, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Unfortunately, one of the consequences of sleep apnea is fatigue, so some of those who suffer from this illness may not even realize it until it is too late and they have already hit a car while driving drowsy.
Determining fault can be difficult in a sleep apnea car accident, so if you were involved in this type of collision, it is important to speak with an experienced auto accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Talk to a Drowsy Driving Accident Attorney Now
If you recently got hit by a drowsy driver and are now struggling to cope with serious injuries, you need the advice of an experienced attorney. Please contact Burch Law Firm today to discuss the details of your crash and learn about all your legal options.