Too many people drive while drowsy in Goldsboro and throughout North Carolina. In fact, in a National Sleep Foundation poll, 54 percent of adults said they had driven while drowsy at least once in the prior year. Nearly 30 percent said they had done it within the past 30 days.
As studies have shown, driving while drowsy can be as dangerous. It is comparable to driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol. For this reason, driver fatigue should be explored as a factor in any car accident that has left you with serious injuries or caused the death of a loved one.
At Strickland Agner Pittman, our auto accident lawyers work closely with investigators and experts to determine the causes of crashes, including drowsiness. We use that information to seek the highest financial recovery possible for our clients and their families.
To learn more about how we can help you after a car accident in Goldsboro or surrounding areas, contact us today. Reach us by phone or online. We can provide a free consultation.
What Is Drowsy Driving?
If a person is simply too tired to operate a vehicle and safely share the road with others, that person is engaged in what we call “drowsy driving.” It also referred to as “fatigued driving.”
For many different reasons, drivers can be too drowsy to drive. They include:
- Lack of sleep – Researchers say adults should get 7-8 hours of sleep per day, but many do not come close to that figure. Commercial truck drivers are a major concern. A study from several years ago found that truckers average less than five hours of sleep per day. Another study found that a high number of crashes are caused by sleep-deprived teens.
- Drugs and alcohol – Many prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications cause drowsiness. Unfortunately, too many people ignore labels that warn against driving or operating heavy machinery after consuming the drug. Also, a person’s fatigue can be heightened if he or she consumes any amount of alcohol.
- Poor health – Sleep disorders can contribute to drowsiness. Physical health disorders such as anemia or mental health issues such as depression can also cause a person to suffer from fatigue, making the person a danger on the road.
Drowsy driving is more than falling asleep at the wheel. It is driving when fatigue impacts you in a number of a ways, including:
- Your ability to react in a timely manner
- Your attention to the road
- Your decision-making process
- Your ability to quickly process information
- Your ability to move and control your body.
This is why drowsy driving is so dangerous. One AAA study found that driving while fatigued contributes to 1 in every 6 fatal car accidents and 1 in 8 traffic crashes resulting in hospitalization.
Single-vehicle, road-departure crashes are the most common type of drowsy driving accident, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports. Drowsiness also contributes to many head-on collisions and rear-end crashes, the CDC states.
Why Does Drowsy Driving Matter in Your Case?
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a car crash through no fault of your own, you have the right to seek just compensation for the harm you have suffered. The other driver’s fatigue may play a significant role in your pursuit of that compensation.
All drivers in North Carolina have a duty to exercise ordinary, reasonable care. If a driver fails to live up to that duty and causes injuries to others, that driver is deemed to be “negligent.” A negligent driver can be held legally responsible, or “liable,” for the harm he or she has caused.
It is negligent to drive while being too drowsy to safely be on the road. In other words, that is simply not reasonable behavior. So, if you were hit by a drowsy driver, you may have the right to hold the driver liable and seek the financial recovery you deserve.
How Can an Accident Lawyer Prove Drowsy Driving?
Establishing fatigue as a factor in an auto accident can be difficult. This is why you should work with a law firm that has the experience and resources it takes to fully investigate a crash.
At Strickland Agner Pittman, we can look at a variety of evidence in your accident. That evidence may reveal that drowsiness contributed to your crash. This evidence could include:
- Eyewitnesses who may have seen the other driver yawning or nodding off at the wheel.
- Prescriptions which reveal that the driver was taking medication at the time of the crash that may have made him or her prone to sleepiness
- Medical records which indicate that the other driver was suffering from sleep disorders or other health issues that contributed to his or her drowsiness.
- Alcohol and drug tests that show the driver had consumed illegal drugs, dangerous prescription drugs or alcohol shortly before your accident.
- Work records such as time sheets or commercial truck driver logbooks which establish that the driver had just completed or was in the middle of a long shift.
- Crash scene evidence such as brake marks – or a lack of marks – which may indicate that the driver took little to no action to avoid a crash due to being asleep or drowsy.
- “Black box” data – now available on most late model cars – showing last-second braking (or no braking) and abrupt changes in the other driver’s speed just before impact.
Our goal at Strickland Agner Pittman is to gather as much evidence as possible and carefully prepare your case for settlement negotiations or, if needed, a trial before a jury.
What Can You Recover in a Drowsy Driving Accident Lawsuit?
We strive to resolve cases through settlement. This is because a settlement ensures that compensation will be paid – and paid in a more timely fashion than if a case goes to trial. However, we are skilled trial lawyers. We will always be ready to fight for you in court and take aggressive action to enforce and collect judgments.
Any settlement or verdict in your case should fully and fairly compensate you for:
- Replacing your car or getting it repaired
- Your past and future medical expenses and other accident-related costs
- Your lost wages and reduced ability to earn income in the future
- Pain and suffering.
In some cases, a driver’s drowsiness may be “willful and wanton” misconduct, especially if the drowsiness was induced by alcohol or drug consumption. If this is the case, you have the right to seek punitive damages as well. These damages are aimed at punishing the driver.
At Strickland Agner Pittman, we will seek compensation from all parties who should be held liable in your case. For instance, if your drowsy driving crash was caused by a driver who was “on the clock,” that driver’s employer (such as a trucking company) could be liable.
Our goal is to always pursue a maximum financial recovery for our clients and their families.
Our Goldsboro Car Accident Lawyers Can Help You
You have only a limited period of time to bring a claim after a car accident in North Carolina. You should not wait to get the legal help you need after a crash that may have been caused by a drowsy driver. Allow Strickland Agner Pittman to get to work on your case today. Call or reach us online. We serve clients in Goldsboro and surrounding areas. Our consultations are always free.
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