Someday, motorists will be able to put their destination into their car’s GPS, then doze off on the way there. That’s not the case for today’s drivers, however. They must remain alert and awake behind the wheel or else they could cause serious accidents.
When a driver operates a vehicle while fatigued, they risk endangering other road users and causing extensive damage. Here, you can learn about the dangers of car driver fatigue and your car accident lawyer find legal options if you suffered injuries in a collision.
Damages You Could Recover After Car Driver Fatigue Causes an Accident
After a collision with a fatigued driver, you have legal options. When you hire an attorney, they can review your accident and pursue damages for:
Current and Future Medical Expenses
You could have suffered a huge monetary loss because of your medical expenses. Even if you have health insurance, you could still face large healthcare bills. To avoid going into debt, you could include the cost of your medical bills in your claim’s value.
With a lawyer’s help, you could recover:
- Anticipated care costs
- Skin grafts and reconstructive surgery
- Bone-setting procedures
- Ambulance transportation
You could recoup compensation for losses not listed here, depending on your condition.
Your attorney can help you seek past, present, and future lost income by speaking to your medical care providers and employer.
They can also collect evidence, such as previous tax records or current pay stubs, to prove you lost:
- Side gigs
In addition to lost income, you can also include loss of future earning capacity in your case’s value. This accounts for any damage to your earning power in the aftermath of suffering a serious injury.
Your Other Financial Costs
A collision with a fatigued driver could cause other losses aside from healthcare expenses and lost income. Your injuries could also force you to pay money for some items and services out of pocket.
These recoverable damages could include:
- Travel costs: If your injuries require you to see a specialist in another area, you might have accrued travel costs. Travel costs could include hotels, rental cars, flight tickets, and gas.
- Childcare costs: If your injury requires you to spend time in a hospital or go through long treatments, you might have to pay someone to watch your children. If you keep documentation of these payments, you could include childcare costs in your claim’s value.
- Medical equipment: Your injury could require you to use a walker or wheelchair to get around. This equipment can cost a lot, especially if you need something specialized.
- Home modifications: Some injuries could require you to make modifications to your home. Home modifications could include widening doors or building a ramp to accommodate a wheelchair.
Your attorney can fight for these and other losses through a claim or lawsuit.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering compensates you for the physical and emotional turmoil your accident caused. Still, the liable insurance company could try to minimize the value of this loss. An attorney can advocate for what you deserve.
They can prove the cost of your pain and suffering after assessing:
- Your mobility
- Your quality of life
- Your working ability
- The severity of your condition
- Your estimated recovery period
- The cost of your financial losses
Your attorney may also consult with healthcare providers, accident reconstruction specialists, and mental health counselors to learn more about your pain and suffering.
Emotional distress should compensate you for the effects the accident had on your psychological well-being, which may include:
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
If you experienced any of these conditions, you could seek compensation for emotional distress. Your attorney could prove you sustained these damages by getting your testimony and speaking to your mental health team.
Fatigued Driving Is More Common Than Most People Think
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that human error is the leading cause of all traffic accidents. Human error includes things like driving while intoxicated, speeding, and, of course, driving while fatigued.
The National Safety Council (NSC) outlines some data about drowsy driving:
- An estimated 6,400 people lose their lives in accidents caused by fatigued driving each year.
- In a recent survey, one out of every 25 participants reported falling asleep behind the wheel in the last 30 days.
- Driving for more than 20 hours without sleep is the same as driving with a blood alcohol concentration level of .08 percent the legal limit.
- Motorists are three times more likely to cause accidents when fatigued.
Drowsy Driving Prevention Week during the first week of November aims to educate motorists on the dangers of fatigued driving and how they can drive safely.
Why Would a Motorist Drive While Fatigued?
Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people drive cars while fatigued for many reasons.
Common causes of driver fatigue include:
- Staying awake for too long: The most common cause of driver fatigue includes staying awake for too many hours consecutively. When a driver doesn’t get enough sleep, they could feel fatigued and suffer serious impairments.
- Not sleeping enough: When a driver doesn’t sleep enough, especially for multiple days or nights in a row, they can feel the effects of fatigue.
- Driving late: If someone works late or drives late into the night, they could feel fatigued, even if they slept well the night before.
- Monotony of the task: If the driver drives for too long because of highway hypnosis, they could lose focus and fall asleep behind the wheel.
- Sleeping disorders: Narcolepsy and other disorders could cause a driver to fall asleep behind the wheel. Still, a motorist must ensure their condition doesn’t put others at risk of injuries.
- Medications: Some drivers must take medications for various illnesses or conditions. Many medications that cause excessive fatigue advise users not to operate vehicles or heavy machinery. Still, not everyone heeds these instructions.
Regardless of the cause of the fatigue, it can have serious implications. Drivers must ensure they drive cautiously and with care and that means refraining from fatigued driving.
Fatigue Causes Many Impairments That Put Others at Risk
In a recent study, BMC Public Health revealed some startling findings. It noted that driving while fatigued actually affects motorists more than driving while intoxicated.
If a fatigued person gets behind the wheel, they risk:
- Nodding off repeatedly
- Reacting slowly to hazards (or not reacting at all)
- Failing to drive defensively
- Making poor decisions
- Drifting into other lanes
- Not remembering the last miles driven
When a driver nods off or falls asleep behind the wheel for even a few seconds, they can cause catastrophic damage. They could collide with another vehicle or even a pedestrian with the right-of-way.
If you sustained injuries in an accident a fatigued driver caused, you could hold them financially accountable through a claim or lawsuit.
An Attorney Can Build a Case Against the Fatigued Driver on Your Behalf
To successfully recover damages from the other party, you must prove that they acted negligently. This means showing that because the other party drove while fatigued, they acted recklessly and caused your accident and damages.
Illustrating negligence requires proving four elements:
- Duty of care: First, your lawyer must show that the other driver owed you a duty of care. All drivers have a duty of care to other road users. This involves obeying the speed limit, following traffic signs, and remaining alert while driving.
- Breach of duty: Next, you must prove the fatigued driver breached their duty. When drivers drive while tired, they could breach their duty because their impairments could cause accidents.
- Causation: Your legal team must prove the fatigued driver’s breach of duty caused the collision, which then led to your injuries. Therefore, you must prove that if the driver had not driven while fatigued, you would not have sustained injuries.
- Damages: Lastly, you must prove that you sustained damages as a result of the collision. Damages could include pain and suffering, emotional distress, medical costs, and lost income.
Your attorney can take the necessary steps to build a case based on negligence. They can investigate the accident, collect evidence, speak to witnesses, and evaluate your damages. They can also explain what measures you can employ to bolster your case’s outcome.
How You Could Benefit From a Fatigued Driving Accident Lawyer’s Help?
Each state has a deadline for how long injury victims have to file civil lawsuits. These deadlines are known as statutes of limitations. To have a chance at recovering compensation, you must file a lawsuit before your state’s deadline expires. Otherwise, you could lose the right to compel compensation from the liable party.
When you hire a car accident attorney to take on your case, they can help to ensure you meet the statute of limitations, along with other deadlines.
To support your pursuit of financial recovery, they can also:
- Investigate: Investigations into car accidents take time. The more time your attorney has to investigate, the stronger the evidence they could collect. You want as much evidence to support your claim as possible.
- Evaluate your damages: You want to compel a settlement from the insurer that accounts for all of your losses. A lawyer can assess your financial losses by adding up your bills, receipts, and invoices. As noted, they assess your non-economic damages by reviewing your situation.
- Build a case: Building a successful injury claim requires more than gathering evidence; it requires your lawyer to identify your case’s weaknesses, understand the legal process, and handle all relevant communications.
- Draft a demand letter: Once your attorney has built your case and gathered the appropriate evidence, they can send a demand letter to the liable insurance company. The demand letter will entail not only the amount of compensation you want but also the evidence you have. Once your attorney sends the demand letter, the other party can accept or deny its terms.
- Negotiate: If you and the other party can agree on an out-of-court arrangement, you could accept a settlement and avoid going to court. Yet, negotiating isn’t easy. It requires your lawyer to have a complete understanding of your present and future care needs.
Hiring an attorney through this process can benefit you greatly. Not only can they manage these steps on your behalf, but they can also offer legal advice and support. Going through this process can feel scary. When partnering with a professional who understands what you’re going through, you could feel less stressed.
What Should I Do After an Accident With a Fatigued Driver?
What you should do after a collision depends on your situation, including whether you’re physically and mentally able to perform certain tasks. If possible, however, you want to do everything in your power to bolster your claim’s outcome. These considerations include:
Visiting a Healthcare Provider
Proving that you suffered injuries in the collision is a major aspect of your claim. When you visit a doctor, they can connect your injuries to the accident using documentation. Later, you could also use their testimony to support your claim.
Limiting Online Communications
During the early days of your claim, you want to set a good foundation. That means attending doctors’ appointments, notifying your insurer, and weighing your legal options. You don’t, however, want to post anything about the collision online. Readers could misconstrue your words or otherwise take them out of context, complicating matters. Only you, your legal team, and your immediate family need to know about your case’s intimate details.
Partnering With a Lawyer
You’re not alone in your fight for financial justice. A Long Island personal injury lawyer with experience handling injury cases can advocate for the compensation you need. Many offer no-obligation consultations where you can explore your options for free.