Drowsy driving has become an epidemic across the nation. There are far too many people who do not get nearly enough sleep each day. However, this does not stop them from getting behind the wheel to get to work, school or somewhere else.
One of the biggest problems with drowsy drivers is that they do not realize how tired they are. Lack of sleep has become so common, that they accept it. People may not realize how fatigue impairs their reaction time, increasing their risk of falling asleep behind the wheel.
These crashes can be severe, resulting in life-changing injuries. Drowsy drivers often fall asleep or react too slowly, so these crashes may often occur at high speed.
Victims may be unsure of how to prove the at-fault driver was asleep or fatigued. Unless you have video footage from before the accident, there really is not any direct proof the driver was asleep or looked tired.
However, there are other ways to establish drowsy driving. These crashes often have certain characteristics that your attorney can look for. It is possible to work backward from these characteristics to determine if the driver was more than likely asleep or fatigued.
Contact Friedman, Domiano and Smith’s Cleveland car accident attorneys today to discuss legal options following a drowsy-driving crash. The initial consultation is free of charge and our clients do not pay anything until we obtain a settlement or verdict on their behalf.
Defining Drowsy Driving
Drowsy driving refers to driving while you are tired. You could be tired for a variety of reasons:
- You did not get enough sleep the night before
- You suffer from some type of sleeping disorder (like narcolepsy or sleep apnea)
- You are on a prescription medication that causes you to feel drowsy
While drowsy driving often means being tired or fatigued, some drivers may actually fall asleep at the wheel. Even if a drowsy driver does not fall asleep, his or her reaction time is likely to be much slower than normal. Tired drivers often do not pay enough attention to their driving or the vehicles around them and may also take bigger risks. In some ways, drowsy driving is like drunk driving because a lack of sleep has effects similar to alcohol or drug impairment.
Reasons Why Some Drivers are Fatigued
While there are medical reasons why some drivers are tired (sleep disorders, medications), sometimes people simply do not get enough sleep.
For instance, some people work late at night or very early in the morning. These are normal sleep hours, which may be why more drowsy driving occurs between midnight and 6 a.m.
Even if you do not work late at night, you may work longer hours during the day and not drive home until after dark. If this is a regular occurrence, you may not be getting anywhere near enough sleep.
Sometimes drivers get drowsy when they have been on the road for a long time without a break. One way this happens is when people push themselves during a long road trip and do the whole drive in one day.
Driving during hours when you would normally be asleep is also a bad idea. You may be heading home after being out late, for example. If this is a rare occurrence, you are more likely to be tired.
Common Characteristics of Drowsy-Driving Accidents?
While drowsy driving could lead to a wide variety of accidents, they usually have certain characteristics. For example, single-vehicle crashes where one vehicle veers off the road are often due to drowsy driving.
Other common features of a drowsy-driving crash include:
- At-fault driver drifting out of his or her lane in the seconds before the collision
- Lack of skid marks because the driver failed to hit the brakes
- Hitting oncoming traffic after crossing a double yellow line
- Driver not remembering what happened right before the accident
- The driver did not swerve or attempt to avoid a collision
- The crash occurred between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m.
Building a Case Against a Drowsy Driver
If you think the other driver was drowsy or asleep, tell the police officer who comes to the scene of the crash. The officer may agree with you after evaluating the crash scene and document his or her findings in the police report.
Officers may be able to tell if someone looks fatigued or if fatigued driving helps explain the way a crash occurred. For example, if the at-fault driver keeps yawning and/or has bags under his or her eyes, it may indicate the driver was struggling to stay awake at the wheel.
As mentioned before, a lack of skid marks at the scene is often a sign of drowsy driving. Other collision characteristics may indicate whether the at-fault driver took evasive action. For instance, the force of impact and amount of vehicle damage is likely to be much worse than if the driver was alert and hit the brakes or swerved.
Whether you were involved in a drowsy-driving crash or another type of crash, it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible. Proving another driver is liable for your injuries is a complex task, and the insurance company will not be focused on paying full compensation. They will be looking for some reason to either deny your claim or offer a small amount of money to settle the case.
Your attorney can investigate the scene and assess the vehicle damage. He or she may also be able to find out if the driver was taking prescription medication that may have made him or her drowsy.
Let the responding police officer know if there are witnesses so he or she can talk to them and include their statements in the police report. Be sure to request their contact information so your lawyer can get more details about what happened.
Your attorney may be able to obtain evidence of the at-fault driver’s work or school schedule. Social media posts may also show that a driver had been out late or had been awake for a long time.
If there is dash cam or video footage of the crash, it could be critical to the success of your claim. Our attorneys know how to obtain video footage of a car crash, as there may be a formal process for doing so.
Give Us a Call to Discuss Your Crash
Friedman, Domiano and Smith has been advocating for the injured in Ohio for decades. We understand how devastating a car crash injury can be and we know insurance companies are always looking to lowball accident victims.
If you are unsure if you have a valid case, we may be able to help you. We do not charge upfront fees, so there is no risk to you.
Licensed Attorneys. Millions Recovered. Contact us: 216-621-0070.
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