Many drivers are aware of the dangers of driving without enough rest, but unlike drinking and driving, most drivers believe that they are an exception to the rule-- about a third of drivers report falling asleep at the wheel at least once. If a driver is asleep at the wheel, the chances of causing injury are higher than when the driving is drinking, under drugs, or distracted by texting or children; a driver who is asleep has, instead a delayed response time, no response time. Accidents at high speeds are more likely, resulting in more deaths and more serious injuries. Most troubling of all, unlike other driving impairments, sleepiness can be difficult to prove, making lawsuits for injuries and wrongful death even more complicated. With the help of a car car accident lawyer, you can get the compensation you need.
How To Tell If An Accident Was Caused By Drowsy Driving
Proving that your accident was caused by a drowsy driver is difficult. After all, if the driver survives the crash, their personal report may be unreliable. However, your accident attorney from a firm like Sarkisian & Fleming will help to gather proof based on:
- The driver's profession. Some people stay up long hours for work, or work at irregular times, making them more susceptible to fatigue on the road. Doctors in residency, for example, may work 80 hours a week at a trauma hospital. After several days of cat naps and short sleeps at odd hours, falling asleep in the car becomes a real possibility.
- The driver's gender. It's been proven that male drivers are twice as likely to drive when tired, and when driving, also twice as likely to fall asleep at the wheel. Although discrimination is not permitted in court, if the defendant is male, a drowsy driving charge is likely.
- The driver's age. Young adult drivers are more likely to push the envelop where sleep is concerned. College students may drive after staying up cramming for finals, or drive on long road trips with friends over spring break. Young adults also have more confidence and feelings of invincibility.
- Your testimony. What time of day did the accident occur? It may be more difficult to assert a drowsy driving charge at noon in the middle of the week; on the other hand, it would be easier to prove if the accident occurred at 2 AM on a Saturday. Did you notice unusual behaviors from the offending vehicle, such as failing to break, swerving in and out of lanes, or reducing speed or speeding up inconsistently? These behaviors are consistent with drunk drivers, but if the blood tests clean, then these can be attributed to driving when tired.
- Recent driver history. By looking at work schedules, phone records, credit card use, and other activities, a lawyer can deduce how much sleep a driver actually had before an accident.
Who Is At Fault?
Interestingly, the driver who caused the accident may not be the only person who is brought to justice when you file your case. Sometimes, employers are also held responsible for accidents. The employer could be charged with negligence if:
- an employee was not detained from driving after working over time or excessively long hours. For example, if a person was asked to work a second shift, or to fill in for another employee, the employer should have provided transportation home or prevented the employee from traveling if said employee was noticeably exhausted.
- company regulations regarding driving and sleeping times were not upheld. Trucking companies should have strict regulations regarding the sleep of their drivers. If a manager of transportation company threatened the job of an employee if a certain product was not delivered, forcing that employee to drive over the recommended number of hours without sleep, that manager or company would be responsible for a portion of the lawsuit.
After the fault of the driver is determined, you will receive full compensation for injuries, or receive a sum of money in the case of a wrongful death. In same cases, many states are starting to make drowsy driving a criminal offense, instead of just a civil one. For example, if drowsy driving caused the death of one or more people, the driver in question could be charged with manslaughter.