Operating a vehicle or any machinery while fatigued is extremely dangerous, for you and those around you. Unfortunately, it happens more often than you may think. In fact, the National Safety Council (NSC) reported that drowsy driving crashes account for about 6,400 fatal traffic accidents in the U.S. each year. A 2021 study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety stated there are about 328,000 drowsy driving crashes annually. If you were injured by a driver you suspect was dozing off at the wheel, our Silver Spring auto accident lawyers are ready to help.
At Goldberg Finnegan, we are ready to seek maximum compensation for your losses. Schedule your no-risk, zero-cost consultation today.
Who May Be Liable for a Drowsy Driving Crash?
Generally, the person who fell asleep at the wheel may be liable. That said, sometimes more than one party may be at fault. For instance, if the drowsy driver works for a trucking company, his or her employer could share some liability. Even the person whose car was hit may sometimes be partially at fault. For example, if the person hit was driving while distracted and had no time to try to avoid a crash. Each case is unique, so the best way to find out who is liable is to discuss your situation with a qualified attorney. You can do this at no cost or risk to yourself in a free consultation.
To determine if there was negligence and you have a valid case, an attorney will need to establish the other party (defendant):
- Owed you a duty of care – such as to not cause harm to others on the road
- Violated that duty – by driving despite being drowsy
- Crashed into your vehicle because of that violation (negligence)
- Caused you to suffer injuries and damages as a direct result of the crash
How Can I Prove the At-Fault Party Fell Asleep at the Wheel?
Proving someone fell asleep at the wheel is a considerable challenge, which is why it can benefit your claim to seek legal help. If you work with an attorney, he or she will need to gather evidence that supports your claim.
Evidence of drowsy driving could include:
- Evidence of driver error: For instance, no skid marks may show the other driver did not try to brake to avoid the crash.
- Receipts or trucker logs may reveal the driver had been on the road for hours and was likely to be fatigued.
- Medical records: Perhaps the driver had a known history of sleep apnea and was not seeking treatment.
- Dash cam or nearby traffic cameras: If available, this could provide visual evidence of what happened.
- Social media posts: Sometimes examining the defendant’s social media accounts may show posts that indicate he or she had been active/awake for hours.
- Witnesses: Credible witnesses may have seen the defendant swerve or drift into another lane of traffic. This type of vehicle movement could indicate drowsy or distracted driving.
If stronger evidence is needed to support your claim, your attorney may recommend hiring an accident reconstruction specialist. These experts use technology, along with their special knowledge to help find the answers to answer difficult questions about a crash.
Who is Most at Risk for a Drowsy Driving Crash?
Some people have an increased risk for falling asleep at the wheel, such as:
- People with sleep apnea or other sleep disorders
- Those who have alternative work schedules or often work overtime
- Anyone driving between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m. (when most accidents occur)
- Those dealing with temporary drowsiness caused by a prescription medication
- Drivers who have consumed just enough alcohol to feel tired rather than drunk
- Commercial truck drivers who frequently are pressured to meet unreasonable deadlines
Signs That You Are Too Tired to Drive
The fact is that anyone can be at risk for a drowsy driving crash. Since every driver owes a duty of care to prevent causing harm to others, the best decision is to not drive while tired. That said, some drivers may initially feel fine but then start experiencing signs that they are too tired to drive, such as:
- Constantly blinking
- Repeatedly yawning
- Drifting or swerving
- Missing exits
- Struggling not to nod off
- Unable to recall the last few minutes or miles
It is extremely dangerous to yourself and others to continue driving when struggling to stay awake. Exhaustion can even cause you to drive through stop signs or traffic lights without realizing it. If you experience these tell-tale signs of being too tired to drive, it is important to get off the road as quickly as possible. If you can, find a well-lit parking lot or rest area to take a nap. For safety reasons, it is also a good idea to call a friend or family member to let them know where you are.
Call Our Firm for Trusted Legal Help After a Drowsy Driving Crash
If you were involved in a drowsy driving crash through no fault of your own, you may have a claim. Having an experienced by your side may be the difference between a lowball settlement and receiving the full compensation you need.
Our firm has extensive experience and has recovered more than $130 million on behalf of our clients. Check out what our clients have to say about the services we provided to them. Contact our law offices to schedule your free initial consultation. You can discuss your situation with one of our qualified attorneys to find out if you may be able to seek compensation.