Accidents Caused by Drowsy and Fatigued Drivers
Spending long hours on the road, either on a road trip or a long commute for the job, most people experience sleepiness or fatigue behind the wheel.
The decision when to pull over and rest before getting on the road again is the critical decision. Factors such as how little sleep the driver is driving on, their stress level, or medical conditions contribute to fatigue and drowsiness while driving. Nationally, 800 people die annually due to sleepy or sleeping drivers, and another 50,000 suffer injuries. But Pennsylvania reports a mere 1% of fatal accidents (11 fatalities due to drivers falling asleep in 2020) are due to drowsy or fatigued drivers, but experts believe that the number is higher. Other reported accident causes, such as drifting into other lanes or off the side of the roadway, might be due to sleepy drivers. And while the numbers appear small, the damage to lives and vehicles is significant.
Driving Without Enough Sleep Causes Accidents That Injure or Kill People in PA
And yet, Pennsylvania law does not punish fatigued drivers as severely as drunk drivers. According to the Centers for Disease Control, a person who has not slept 18 hours is like a driver with a blood-alcohol level (BAC) of 0.05%. And a person sleep-deprived for 24 hours is like a drunk driver with a 0.10% BAC. That means sleep deprivation may be as bad as alcohol when handling a car. According to the National Safety Council, drowsiness or fatigue impairs a driver like drunk driving. They also report that 20% of drivers nationally admitted to falling asleep while driving last year, and twice as many admit to having slept while driving at some point. And yet, a drunk driving fatality in Pennsylvania leads to involuntary manslaughter and imprisonment. A drowsy driving fatality results in a $500.00 fine.
Common Indicators When Driving While Fatigued
Like driving impaired from alcohol, driving while fatigued reduces a driver’s reaction time and awareness of dangerous road conditions. When a driver cannot pay attention for long due to fatigue, they miss road hazards, like potholes, ice slicks, animals, or even pedestrians on the road. Thus, like drunk driving, the risk of car accidents significantly increases when one is driving without enough sleep. Unfortunately, many people do not recognize when they are too tired to drive. They may even zone out for a few seconds while driving 50 to 60 miles per hour, covering a great distance with no one piloting the vehicle. But sleep deprivation affects reaction time and affects a person’s coordination and ability to make rational decisions. Thus, those who suffer insomnia from stress or other sleep disorders and lack sufficient sleep, or those who drive late at night, can cause devastating damage when they crash. Long haul truckers and night or long shift workers are especially susceptible to sleep-disordered driving.
As most understand, driving while overly tired is dangerous but avoidable. Simple steps, like getting enough sleep at night or seeking help with sleep disorders, can avoid terrible accidents. However, not driving while medicated and paying attention to signs of sleepiness, like yawning, drifting into adjacent lanes, or riding over the sleeper strips on the road too many times are indications that it is unsafe to continue driving.
How to Determine if a Driver Fell Asleep While Driving
Statistical data about drowsy car crashes indicate that most accidents by sleeping drivers occur mid-afternoon or early morning, typically along long, rural highways that stretch out into what seems like forever. Another sign that someone was asleep at the wheel when they hit another car or other object on the road is the speed at which the driver hit the other vehicle. Accident experts can tell that the driver never slowed down before hitting the other car, causing a fatal car accident. A driver who fails to heed the signs of drowsiness may be responsible for damages they cause by crashing into someone on the road. Additionally, when seeking to prove someone fell asleep at the wheel, there may be witnesses or camera footage that reveals the driver was sleeping when the accident occurred. Other notable facts are that those who work long, irregular hours, sleep fewer than six hours per night, or have sleep disorders are more prone to sleep drive, as are males ages 17 to 23 years of age.
When police or accident experts can determine the driver was asleep at the wheel, the driver may be liable civilly for the medical costs for injury treatment, property damage to the vehicle they hit, lost wages from missing work, and suffering caused by painful injury and mental anguish. And they may be responsible for the economic support, loss of consortium, and mental grief of those who lost a loved one in a fatal accident due to a drowsy or fatigued driver. So whether a personal injury victim’s family sues the driver for wrongful death or a personal injury crash victim sues the negligent driver for their injuries and losses, they are going to need legal assistance. The damages claim of a personal injury plaintiff can soar into the hundreds of thousands, especially if their injuries were severe and permanent, so they must have expert legal help to recover their past, present, and future losses.
Proving Liability is the First Step for Your PA Drowsy Driving Accident Lawsuit
To successfully prove a personal injury claim, the plaintiff must first prove liability. A personal injury attorney may hire accident reconstruction experts to study the police report, the place of the accident, and interview witnesses. They may gather security camera videos that catch the driver sleeping or looking drowsy. Witnesses may report that they saw the vehicle swerve into the next lane before hitting the car. The driver’s medication may indicate the side effects of drowsiness. All evidence about the accident may lead to finding the cause of the accident and establishing liability. Afterward, the attorney’s task is to help their client gather proof of and a sum of all damages for the claim.
Seek Experienced Counsel from Bensalem Drowsy Driver Accident Attorneys if You Have been Injured in Pennsylvania
While this may seem like a challenging series of tasks, an attorney who concentrates on personal injury litigation, including cases involving accidents caused by drowsy drivers, such as those at our Pennsylvania law firm, has seen it and done it time and again. Not only that, but we are here to assist you with evaluating your claim and seeking maximum compensation.
Contact our Bensalem office at (215) 337-4915 or fill out our easy to use form with questions about a fatigued driving related accident injury case. When you need answers on personal injury law in Pennsylvania and dedicated representation, we’re here to help.
If you have injuries due to a drowsy driver in Fairless Hills, Tacony, Croydon, Horsham, Bucks County, Doylestown, Newtown, and places throughout Northeast Philadelphia & Lower Bucks County, Pennsylvania, speak to a well-versed personal injury lawyer at Kamensky, Cohen, & Riechelson. You deserve compensation for the suffering another’s negligence caused you.