Driver Fatigue: When a Drowsy Driver Causes You Serious Harm

Busy schedules, long work shifts, and an inability to sleep are a few examples of why a driver may drift to sleep behind the wheel. A traumatic car accident involving a tired driver can change your life or the life of a loved one forever.

A truck accident claim is one way to hold negligent drivers accountable, and ensure you receive the financial compensation and the justice you deserve. Read on for more information about driver fatigue, and how to hold these negligent drivers responsible.

Common Causes of Driver Fatigue

Drowsy drivers are all too common on streets and highways. The exact number of accidents caused by driver fatigue is unknown, in no small part due to the difficulty in proving a driver fell asleep.

A truck accident lawyer can investigate your accident to determine if driver fatigue played a possible role in the crash.

Your lawyer may find one or more of the following issues as a contributing factor to your accident injuries:

  • Lack of sleep: Few adults get the seven to nine hours of sleep experts recommend, making daytime sleepiness a serious threat behind the wheel.
  • Undiagnosed sleeping disorder: Sleep disorders like sleep apnea can result in a lack of restful sleep, causing drivers to feel drowsy.
  • Medicine: Many drivers take a chance driving despite warnings of potential drowsiness prescription and over-the-counter medications may cause.
  • Alcohol: A late night out with friends or drinks after work can turn tragic when exhaustion combines with a driver’s alcohol consumption.
  • Time of day: Sleep-related accidents are most common between midnight and 6 a.m., and in the mid-afternoon hours, according to the Sleep Foundation.

If a sleep-deprived driver is responsible for your injuries, you deserve compensation. Medical bills start soon after your accident and—depending upon your injuries—may not stop if you or a loved one’s injuries require ongoing care.

How to pay for such care is enough to stress anyone. Your injuries may prevent you from working, either temporarily or forever. It’s vital to fight for the compensation you need and deserve.

Driver Fatigue and Accident Injuries

The Sleep Foundation reports that drowsiness is similar to drunkenness when it comes to driving. Impaired judgment and reaction times occur when a driver falls asleep behind the wheel. Chances are there is no time to avoid a collision should the driver awake before impact.

The accident injuries possible in such a traumatic event include:

  • Multiple broken bones: The type of break can determine your mobility, medical procedures, and recovery time.
  • Internal bleeding: An internal injury such as bleeding can harm your organs and possibly result in death.
  • Brain injury: From a concussion to a severe traumatic brain injury, the impact of hitting your head can change your ability to dress, walk, and talk.
  • Spinal cord injury: A spinal cord injury typically results in some form of paralysis, making important home modifications essential.

No matter what type of injury you or a loved one experienced, paying for your medical care is costly. If your loved one suffers a catastrophic injury, they may require more care than you can provide. A skilled nursing facility may offer 24-hour care, yet such care is expensive. With an average cost of $8,000 per month, paying for such care is nearly impossible without pursuing compensation to assist with payments.

An award for your damages is never guaranteed, and there is no way to predict the outcome of your case. Pursuing legal action for your injuries holds the responsible driver accountable for the harm and major changes they brought to your life.

Driver Fatigue and the Trucking Industry

Truck drivers spend long hours on the road, transporting goods and materials. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the hours-of-service relating to truck drivers and their hours behind the wheel.

Included in the hours-of-service are regulations regarding the required number of rest breaks truck drivers must take. Resting on-demand is difficult if drivers can’t relax or sleep.

If a drowsy truck driver is responsible for your injuries, a lawyer can investigate your accident to identify all parties responsible for your harm. Liability for your damages may include the driver and possibly the trucking company. Violations of the FMCSA regulations may serve as valuable evidence for your truck accident case. A driver who fails to follow the mandatory rest break rules may face serious consequences for their actions.

A truck accident lawyer is unafraid to take on large trucking companies, their insurance company, and opposing lawyers. Your lawyer will fight for the type of compensation you deserve and not just what an insurance company wants to pay.

A semi-truck and trailer can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded. When traveling in normal weather conditions at 65 miles per hour, the truck can require the length of two football fields to come to a complete stop. A fatigued truck driver has no time to react quickly enough to prevent a serious crash.

Handling your case alone is dangerous and can cause you disappointment. Consider fighting for justice with the help of a truck accident lawyer.

How You Can Help Your Case

You can assist your lawyer with your case by gathering evidence pertaining to your accident. Police reports and eye-witness contact information are two examples of valuable information. Your lawyer can review statements witnesses provided to police and interview the witnesses for your case. The phone calls, emails, paperwork, and more of a truck accident claim require a dedicated focus. Your injuries are your top priority, and rest is important for your recovery.

An especially tragic car accident may receive local media coverage. Online articles, photographs, and possible videos of the accident scene are other forms of evidence that can build your case.

A visit from an assertive insurance adjuster is not something you should tolerate. If the adjuster represents the responsible driver and wants you to accept a settlement, refer them to your lawyer. Do not sign any documents without legal representation. Insurance companies want to pay the least amount of compensation possible —if any. Their top priority is not your damages but rather the company’s financial future. How you proceed with your pursuit of compensation is vital to your financial future. Negotiating for a fair settlement with an insurance company is not easy.

This is a pivotal moment in your accident and recovery journey. If you accept their offer, you likely lose your right to pursue compensation later should you or a loved one need further medical care.

When Driver Fatigue Kills

A drowsy driver who drifts to sleep behind the wheel can drift across a center line and into a loved one’s vehicle. A head-on collision is especially deadly and the news of your loved one’s untimely death, devastating.

Planning a funeral or memorial is emotionally and financially draining. Your relationship with the decedent may qualify you for filing a wrongful death claim and lawsuit.

The permanent loss of your loved one is a void no amount of money can fill. However, the unexpected loss can cause financial hardship if your loved one contributed to your household expenses. The loss of income from a spouse can overwhelm you as you consider your future.

Like truck accident cases, wrongful death claims are also subject to strict time constraints.

Failure to file your case within the required statute of limitations can prevent you from pursuing compensation for:

  • Medical expenses for your loved one’s final days
  • Burial and other related funeral costs
  • Lost income and future earnings
  • Loss of companionship

This is a partial list of the types of compensation possible.

The High Cost of Fatigued Drivers

A lack of rest makes a driver drowsy and dangerous. The impact of serious injuries or the loss of a loved one can remain with you throughout your lifetime. Knowing that this life-changing event was most likely preventable may make you angry and frustrated.

You cannot determine how a driver traveling next to you is feeling tired or drowsy. As you concentrate on driving defensively, their sudden action can turn your world upside down.

The medical care you or a loved one requires can exceed your financial ability to pay. When the accident results from negligence on the part of the responsible driver, they and not you should pay the costs.

If your loved one requires more care than you can provide or if you must plan a funeral, the costs may overwhelm you. The situation you find yourself in was avoidable, had the other driver used care. Drowsy and fatigued drivers owe it to themselves and to others to pull off the road. Drinking caffeine

in hopes of staying awake does not serve as a viable option for preventing a serious accident.

Busy schedules, poor choices, and failure to adhere to government regulations are all deadly contributors to fatigue accidents. A tragic event can impact you financially, emotionally, psychologically, and physically. Time passes in a blur of medical appointments or grief, leaving you no spare moments to handle the details of your claim and lawsuit. The overall impact on your life—including your pain and suffering—is why you may want to consult an attorney, and take the first step to hold a negligent driver accountable.

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