Fatigued Driving Accident Attorneys
Sometimes it feels like there just aren’t enough hours in the day. When life gets hectic, one of the first things to get put on the backburner is sleep and proper rest. What most drivers don’t realize is that sleep is the last thing you should skimp on because the consequences can be deadly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 6,000 fatal crashes each year may be caused by drowsy and fatigued drivers.
Operating a vehicle while drowsy is a choice. If a driver makes that choice and is then involved in a serious accident, they need to be held responsible for the repercussions of that choice. At Tiemann Law Firm, that’s exactly what we help victims of fatigued drivers do. We care about making sure the victims of fatigued drivers don’t suffer financial hardship and complications because of an accident they didn’t cause. If you have questions about how an experienced Sacramento car accident attorney can help you after a drowsy driving accident, call us at (916) 999-9000 for a free case evaluation.
What is Fatigued Driving?
Fatigued driving or drowsy driving happens when a tired driver operates a vehicle, even though they have not received an adequate amount of sleep or rest. The average adult needs a total of 7 hours of sleep per night; the average teen needs at least 8 hours of sleep per night. When a person fails to get the recommended amount of sleep, they can become overtired, and the condition of their body begins to suffer.
According to the National Sleep Foundation and the National Safety Council, at least half of adult drivers in the U.S. admit to consistently getting behind the wheel while drowsy. Another 40 percent of adults have admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel at least once while driving. These numbers highlight the prevalence of drowsy driving as more than just a “once in a while” occurrence. Drowsy driving happens on a consistent basis, and it can end up being fatal.
How is Fatigued Driving Dangerous?
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration estimates that in 2017, there were at least 91,000 police-reported crashes involving a drowsy or fatigued driver. Of those crashes, 50,000 people were injured, and nearly 800 people ended up losing their lives. Drowsy driving is dangerous driving. In fact, drowsy driving is often compared to drunk driving because the impact of sleep deprivation manifests itself in the body in much the same way as alcohol consumption.
The National Sleep Foundation highlights the significant impacts that a lack of sleep can have on the human body. Being awake for 18 hours can make a person drive as if they had a blood alcohol concentration of .05 percent, close to the legal limit of being considered drunk. A person who has been awake for this length of time may experience reduced coordination, a reduced ability to track moving objects, and has a slower reaction time as well as an altered mood.
Being awake for a full 24 hours is the equivalent of having a .10 BAC. A driver can experience a loss of judgment, vision problems, significant deterioration of reaction time, memory loss, and a lack of control. Clearly, a driver’s physical and cognitive abilities can be seriously impaired by fatigue, which can lead to a dangerous situation on the road. Some of the most common effects of driving while fatigued can include:
- Falling asleep at the wheel
- Making poor-judgment decisions
- Reacting slowly to a change in road conditions or traffic patterns
- Not reacting at all to a change in road conditions or traffic patterns
- Drifting out of their lane
- Vision problems such as tunnel vision or blurry vision
- Forgetting the last few miles driven
- Experiencing “microsleeps,” or short episodes of falling asleep at the while for a fraction of a second up to 30 seconds at a time
Lack of a good night’s sleep isn’t the only cause of serious fatigue. There are a number of circumstances that impact a driver’s ability to stay awake and concentrated while operating a vehicle. Some of the most common reasons drivers may feel drowsy behind the wheel include:
- Not getting consistent sleep over the course of several days
- The time of day, which may impact a person’s circadian rhythm or sleep/wake cycle
- Monotonous tasks
- Long periods of boredom or inactivity
- Sleep disorders
- Reaction to medication
- Driving under the influence
Drivers Most at Risk for Fatigued Driving
Everyone who operates a vehicle could be at risk for driving drowsy under certain conditions. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some drivers are more prone to driving while fatigued than others. The drivers most at risk for operating a vehicle while fatigued or drowsy include:
- Commercial drivers
- Shift workers
- Business travelers
- Young drivers
- Drivers with untreated or undiagnosed sleep disorders
- Drivers who operate a vehicle while on prescription medications, which can make them drowsy
- Drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Drivers who do not get enough sleep
Common Injuries Related to Fatigued Driving Collisions
Since drunk driving and drowsy driving are so similar in nature, the injuries associated with fatigued driving accidents closely resemble those of drunk driving accidents. When a drowsy driver is not paying attention to the road or falls asleep behind the wheel, they have no time to slow down or stop when road conditions or traffic patterns change. This can mean that in many crashes involving drowsy drivers, they are hitting another vehicle at a higher rate of speed than someone who is paying attention and able to at least slow-down before impact.
Higher-speed crashes tend to involve more serious and significant injuries. Also, fatigued drivers may not be able to clearly read posted signs or ignore signs and signals altogether, which makes them more prone to being involved in traumatic collisions like wrong-way crashes and head-on collisions. Some of the more common injuries associated with fatigued driving accidents include:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Other head, neck, and spine trauma
- Broken bones
- Facial injuries
- Organ damage
- Internal bleeding
- Road rash
- Wrongful death
Compensation for a Fatigued Driving Accident
For victims hurt by a drowsy or fatigued driver, compensation may be available by pursuing one of several different options. To begin, California is what is known as a “fault” car accident state. In a fault car accident state, the driver that is responsible for causing the accident is also the driver responsible for the effects that accident has on other drivers. That means that the victim of a drowsy driving accident may be able to pursue compensation through one of the following means:
- Filing a claim with the fatigued driver’s car insurance company
- Filing a claim with their own car insurance company
- Filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver
Once a victim establishes which option is right for their individual circumstances, they often ask about compensation. How much compensation is reasonable to expect from a fatigued driving incident? The answer can vary depending on a variety of factors.
One of those factors is California’s “pure comparative negligence” regulation. In a state that subscribes to a pure comparative negligence model, each driver is assigned a percentage of responsibility for causing the accident. This percentage dictates how much of the total amount of damages they may be allowed to recover.
For example, if a drowsy driver in California is found by a court or an insurance adjuster to be 90 percent responsible for an accident, they are allowed to recover the full amount of damages, minus 90 percent. The victim would then be 10 percent liable for the circumstances of the accident and could receive the full amount of damages, minus 10 percent.
In that scenario, if the total amount of damages is $100,000, the victim is entitled to $90,000, and the drowsy driver can claim $10,000. It is important to remember that even though the at-fault driver is able to recover partial compensation, they or their insurance company is also financially on the hook for covering the victim’s portion of the compensation as well.
The pure comparative negligence model binds both insurance adjusters and the courts. This is valuable information for victims because some insurance companies may undervalue a claim by saying a victim is more responsible for the crash than they actually are. By laying 20 percent of the blame at the victim’s feet, they can avoid paying full and fair compensation to the victim.
That is why having an attorney on your side from the very beginning is so important, even if you aren’t pursuing a lawsuit. An experienced attorney can review the evidence, conduct an investigation, and present a compelling case that will establish liability for the accident. This gives you the best opportunity to recover the maximum amount of compensation you are entitled to.
Contact a Sacramento Car Accident Attorney Today
Unfortunately, many drivers think not getting enough sleep only impacts them. However, when a fatigued individual makes the decision to get behind the wheel, they are not only disregarding their own safety but yours as well. Fatigued drivers can change the course of a victim’s life, causing injuries that can last a lifetime and wreaking havoc on a victim’s financial stability. They must be held accountable and take responsibility for their actions. That’s where the law firm of Tiemann Law Firm comes in.
If you have been seriously hurt by a fatigued driver, contact the car accident attorneys at Tiemann Law Firm. We can break down all your legal options and show you which ones could have the most positive outcome for your individual situation. For more information on how we can help you recover the maximum amount of compensation you deserve, call us at (916) 999-9000. We can set up a free case evaluation to get you started down the path to recovery.