A shocking study revealed that a driver who has slept for less than five hours has a crash risk comparable to someone driving while intoxicated, according to a CBS News report. The problem of drowsy driving is especially severe in Texas. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that Texas is #1 in sleep-related fatalities with 20% of all such fatalities — double the number of deaths of the #2 and #3 states combined.
There are a huge number of drowsy drivers on our streets and highways, day and night. Sixty percent of drivers admitted to driving while they could barely stay awake at least once in the past year and many do this on a regular basis. The NHTSA alarmingly notes that each year overly tired drivers cause over 100,000 car accidents, injure 71,000 people, and take the lives of 1,550 people.
Questions you will have if you have been injured in a car wreck in Fort Worth caused by an exhausted driver:
1. What do I do now?
Here are some useful car accident tips. In order to win a personal injury case against the drowsy driver, you will have to show his insurance company or a court that the driver was not alert enough to drive safely and that his negligence caused your damages.
This is usually challenging, as the driver almost always claims he was wide awake. Unlike a DWI case, there are no breathalyzers or blood draws that can verify his alertness level. Proving your case requires an immediate investigation by a good personal injury lawyer.
2. What will the injury attorney do to prove the case?
When we are hired, we obtain the police report and photos of the vehicles and crash scene. We ask eyewitnesses and police officers to describe that driver’s appearance after the crash.
We track the other driver down and ask him questions including
- where he had been before,
- where he was going,
- how much sleep he got the night before,
- if he suffered from sleep apnea or other sleep disorders,
- if had been taking any prescription medications, and
- if he had drank intoxicating beverages or taken illegal drugs.
We get additional information when we file suit, file discovery documents, subpoena evidence, and take his deposition if and when we need to file suit.
This evidence will persuade the insurance adjuster or jury that the defendant’s fatigue caused the crash so it will award our client damages.
Almost every car accident is easily preventable. We never let an at-fault driver make excuses to get out of paying our clients compensation.
For example, we were recently hired to represent an injured man who was crashed into at 7:00 a.m. by someone who fell asleep at the wheel. Another claimed the sun was in her eyes. Their insurance companies initially denied the claims but we obtained good settlements for our clientsw.
In exhausted driver cases, we use evidence from the CDC and argue that all the tired driver had to do was
- go to bed earlier;
- drink a cup of coffee, Coke, or Monster drink;
- take an Uber;
- let a passenger driver;
- avoid drowsiness-inducing medications or too much food; and
- stay off the road and go back to sleep.
3. What are ways I’ll know if the other driver fell asleep at the wheel?
We look to see if the other driver
- delayed braking or didn’t brake at all,
- drove erratically, including drifting across his lane, hitting rumble strips, missing his exit, and leaving the road, or
- had been driving for a very long period of time across a long distance with few or no breaks.
4. What does does a drowsy driver look like at the scene?
We develop evidence from medical professionals that sleep deprivation is like driving while intoxicated and causes the following diminished body functions:
- loss of alertness and memory,
- impaired brain functions and reaction times,
- poor performance, and
- lack of attention span.
4. What type of drivers do this?
As we said, everybody, but especially the following:
- commercial long-distance drivers of tractor-trailers, box trucks, and buses,
- late-night shift workers, and
- morbid obese individuals who might have sleep apnea.
If you find yourself injured by any negligent driver, you need to get advice about your legal rights. Contact a board-certified personal injury attorney who has extensive experience in handling car and truck accident cases.
Berenson Injury Law has been helping injured drivers and passengers for nearly 40 years and has the knowledge and experience to help our clients achieve the positive results they deserve.