Every time we drive, we expect other drivers on the road to follow the law, drive cautiously, and be alert. Unfortunately, driver fatigue is a very common phenomenon, and drowsy drivers pose a hazard to everyone sharing the roads of Kentucky.
Drivers should always be well rested and alert before getting behind the wheel. However, driver fatigue contributes to a significant portion of traffic accidents in Kentucky and across the United States. Those who have been hurt in a car accident caused by a drowsy driver may suffer physically, emotionally, and financially as a result of the accident. You do not have to carry that burden alone.
If you or a loved one has been hurt in an accident caused by a driver who was drowsy or falling asleep at the wheel, you should know that help is available. At Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer, our experienced drowsy driver accident attorneys believe that everyone deserves justice and fair compensation if they’ve been hurt due to someone else’s negligence. Our personal injury law firm has seven locations throughout Kentucky to serve you. Schedule your free consultation with a driver fatigue accident lawyer by calling (877) 809-6889 or by reaching out to us online today.
What Is Fatigued Driving? Why Is It Dangerous?
Drowsy driving accidents can happen at any time, but they are more likely to occur at times when people are normally sleeping. Most drowsy driving crashes occur between midnight and 6 a.m., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). At these times, there is a natural dip in a person’s circadian rhythm, the internal clock that regulates sleep. While many drowsy driving accidents involve a single vehicle, it is possible for a drowsy driver to nod off, drift across the center line, collide with another vehicle and cause a severe injury accident.
The NHTSA estimates that 91,000 crashes reported by police involved drowsy drivers in a recent year. The crashes caused injuries to more than 50,000 people and led to 800 traffic deaths. There is also general agreement among traffic safety experts that government statistics most likely underestimate the impact of drowsy driving because of the difficulty of identifying fatigued drivers. Police often cannot identify whether fatigue contributed to an accident unless a driver admits to having nodded off at the wheel.
In fact, the National Bureau of Statistics notes that if it has been eighteen hours since a driver has slept, the driver will exhibit signs of impairment similar to those of a person who has a 0.08% blood alcohol content level and is considered legally intoxicated. However, there is no field test or breathalyzer test to screen for drowsy drivers, making accidents caused by fatigue more challenging to identify.
Drowsy driving is particularly dangerous because:
- The driver is often unable to pay attention to the road and recognize changes in traffic conditions
- The driver’s reaction time is slowed significantly, making it difficult to maneuver or brake suddenly
- The driver’s judgment is impaired, often leading the driver to misjudge the distance between vehicles. The driver may fail to check the rear or side mirrors before changing lanes or attempt riskier maneuvers than he or she would otherwise.
It’s important to note that while falling asleep behind the wheel is incredibly dangerous, simply driving while drowsy (and not entirely asleep) is still a significant issue that can lead to serious accidents.
Which Drivers Are Most Likely to Be Fatigued?
It’s an unfortunate fact that most Americans do not get the seven to nine hours of sleep each night that experts recommend. Fatigue may be caused by driving a long distance, working a late shift, getting up repeatedly to check on a baby throughout the night or working alternating day and night shifts. Many Kentuckians do not get enough sleep and suffer from chronic sleep deprivation.
While anyone may drive while fatigued, there are specific groups of people that are more likely to be fatigued behind the wheel, including:
- Commercial vehicle drivers, including long-haul truckers, tow truck drivers, and bus drivers
- Shift workers who are required to work night shifts
- People who suffer from sleep apnea or other sleep disorders
- People who have taken medication (either prescription or over-the-counter) such as certain allergy medicines that cause drowsiness as a side effect
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), some of the warning signs of distracted driving include:
- Frequent blinking or yawning
- Difficulty focusing on the road ahead
- Trouble remembering the last few miles traveled
- Drifting from your lane
- Missing your intended exit
- Hitting the “rumble strips” on the side of the road
How a Car Accident Lawyer Can Help if You’ve Been Injured by a Fatigued Driver
If you were hurt in an accident and you believe the other driver was fatigued at the time of the crash, it is crucial to hire an experienced car accident lawyer to investigate the accident and start collecting evidence right away. Recovering the full compensation you need will depend largely on proving that the other driver was fatigued, and therefore negligent, and caused the crash.
A personal injury lawyer at Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer will conduct a thorough investigation to secure evidence proving the other driver was driving while drowsy, or that the driver fell asleep just before a crash.
This evidence may include:
- On-scene evidence, including lack of skid marks before a collision, indicating the driver did not attempt to brake and therefore was likely asleep
- Prescriptions or evidence of over-the-counter medication use in the hours before a drowsy driving accident
- Driving logs or work shift records showing the amount of time working without sleep
- School attendance records
- Cell phone data
- Store, ATM, or gas pump receipts
- Black box data records (available on some newer model vehicles)
Your lawyer will work to build a convincing case on your behalf. By filing a drowsy driver accident claim, you may seek compensation for your medical bills, lost wages from missed work, damage to your vehicle, and other financial losses. You also may seek compensation for your pain, mental anguish, and other non-economic damages caused by the fatigued driving accident.
The first step will be to file an accident claim and seek compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. If a reasonable accident settlement can be negotiated, you’ll be able to get the money you need more quickly and can put the crash behind you and start moving forward with your life. However, if the insurer refuses to agree to a fair settlement that reflects the extent of your losses, your lawyer may advise filing a lawsuit and seeking damages in court.
Standing up to an insurance company and rejecting a low-ball settlement offer requires courage. The attorneys at Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer bring Kentucky courage to every case we handle.
Contact the Attorneys at Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer
At Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer, our fatigued driver injury lawyers are committed to helping you recoup your losses so that you can focus on healing and getting back on your feet again. The firm has seven locations across Kentucky to best serve you. This means that you’ll have access to experienced legal professionals, regardless of where you are in Kentucky.
When you choose Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer, the attorneys you see on TV are the same attorneys you will work with in real life. We are proud to serve our fellow Kentuckians.
After a serious accident, it is important that you speak with an experienced drowsy driver car accident lawyer as soon as possible so that we can begin gathering evidence and building a strong case. Our attorneys are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call us at (877) 809-5352 for a free case evaluation and let us help you seek the justice that you deserve.