Florida Drowsy Driving Accidents
Many people get behind the wheel when they have not had enough sleep, increasing the risk of a crash. Fatigue is a factor in roughly one out of 10 vehicle accidents, according to recently published research. The consequences of drowsy driving can be serious.
If you have been seriously injured in a car accident caused by a driver who was nodding off at the wheel, then you need an aggressive personal injury attorney to help you pursue full compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. You should not have to worry about a stack of unpaid medical expenses if a fatigued driver caused your injuries. The experienced attorneys of Chiumento Dwyer Hertel Grant, P.L. have been representing injured victims throughout Florida since 1973 and are respected by our peers in the legal community. With offices in Palm Coast and Ormond Beach, we are ready to discuss your fatigued driver injury claim and the legal options available to you. Call (386) 753-3221 to speak with someone about your case. Contact us today for help.
Drowsy Driving Laws and Statistics
The primary causes of fatigued driving accidents are lack of adequate sleep and driving at times when the driver would normally be sleeping.
The Florida Legislature has proclaimed the first week of September as Drowsy Driving Prevention Week to raise awareness of the connection between fatigue and driver performance and the serious risks posed by drowsy drivers.
Drowsy driving is a factor in nearly 10 percent of crashes nationwide, according to a 2018 study by the American Automobile Association (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety. That is a higher percentage of vehicle collisions linked to fatigue than government statistics reflect.
Drowsiness was more than three times as evident in crashes during hours of darkness, the AAA researchers observed.
Young people, particularly males under age 26, are at greatest risk of drowsy driving, according to the Florida Department of Transportation.
Shift workers who may work irregular schedules including some day shifts and some night shifts also are at higher risk of drowsy driving.
Truck Driver Fatigue
Fatigued driving is a common factor in tractor trailer accidents. Commercial truck drivers often drive until they are dangerously fatigued and slow to respond to sudden changes in traffic conditions.
Federal law limits the number of hours that commercial truck drivers engaged in interstate commerce can drive a tractor-trailer each week. Unfortunately, many truckers, facing unreasonable delivery deadlines or incentives to stay on the road, disregard the hours of service limits, falsify their driver logs and remain behind the wheel while dangerous fatigued.
Truck driver fatigue is such a serious problem that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which oversees the commercial truck industry, has established rules requiring trucking companies to install electronic logging devices in large trucks to improve compliance with the hours of service limits and reduce drowsy driving.
Truck drivers are required to comply with all Florida and federal laws regarding sleep to ensure they do not pose a danger to others on the road. Commercial drivers who are found to be fatigued or ill at the time of a crash in Florida will be issued a Uniform Commercial Citation by the law officer who investigates the accident.
A Florida motorist injured by a fatigued driver also may have a right to file a personal injury lawsuit against a truck driver who causes a serious accident, demanding restitution for losses caused by the accident. Trucking companies and commercial truck drivers are required to carry much higher amounts of liability insurance because of the serious harm a fully loaded tractor trailer can cause in a collision. Trucking companies will act quickly to deny legal liability because of the high stakes involved. You will need an aggressive and experienced lawyer standing up for your interests to pursue compensation after a serious accident.
Drowsy Driving vs. Drunk Driving
Driving while nodding off at the wheel or struggling to stay alert can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. A 2012 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine said that drowsiness while driving present almost as much risk as consuming alcohol and getting behind the wheel. If a driver is fatigued, that driver is driving with impaired senses.
Drowsy drivers have slower responses—much like drunk drivers. Fatigue slows thought processes and affects vision and judgment.
Drivers who are excessively fatigued take much longer to recognize hazardous traffic situations and respond. Drowsiness adversely affects a driver’s reaction time.
The consumption of alcohol increases drowsiness and impairment. But unlike drunk driving, there is no blood test to measure a driver’s drowsiness. The severity of the problem caused by fatigued driving is likely undercounted in police accident reports as a contributing factor to accidents.
Drivers who are blinking their eyelids frequently and having difficulty focusing should pull over at a safe stopping area and take a break before continuing to drive.
Drowsy drivers may nod off for seconds and drift off the road or into an oncoming lane of traffic while asleep. Drowsy drivers endanger themselves and others on the roads, just as drunk drivers do.
Establishing a Drowsy Driving Accident Claim
Drowsy driving cases can be challenging to prove because there is no test to measure whether a person was too fatigued to drive. Our attorneys thoroughly investigate serious accidents to determine what really happened and who should be held accountable for your injuries.
All drivers in Florida have a legal responsibility to drive safely and not to endanger others on the road. When a driver fails to meet that legal obligation and others are injured as a result, the at-fault driver may have acted negligently. The drowsy driver may be legally liable for the injuries that the accident victims sustained.
When our injury lawyers at Chiumento Dwyer Hertel Grant represent an accident victim in a case involving a suspected fatigued driver, we seek evidence to show the at-fault driver knew or should have known that he or she had not had enough sleep to operate a vehicle safely, but the fatigued driver got behind the wheel anyway.
Our investigators look for the presence or absence of skid marks on the pavement at the accident scene. When a driver fails to brake before a collision, that may be an indicator that the driver fell asleep at the wheel or was distracted and did not react to avoid the crash.
When investigating truck accidents, our experienced lawyers will work quickly to secure and review a truck driver’s log books and data from the on-board recorder if present to analyze whether the truck driver had taken required rest breaks and whether the driver was likely driving dangerously fatigued. A driver who knowingly violated the hours-of-service limits and caused an accident may have reckless disregard for safety and be held accountable.
Our attorneys are prepared to standing up to trucking companies and insurance companies to demand the full compensation an accident victim needs to rebuild his or her life after a serious injury.
Damages You Can Recover
Florida motorists rely on their own Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance for reimbursement of expenses related to minor injuries in car accidents.
But Florida civil law allows accident victims to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver if their medical bills amount to more than $10,000 or if their injuries involve significant loss of bodily function, permanent scarring and disfigurement,
After a serious accident caused by a drowsy driver, you may be entitled to seek compensation for the following:
- medical expenses beyond the limits of the PIP coverage
- lost wages
- pain and suffering
- mental anguish and emotional trauma
- lost future earning capacity
- loss of enjoyment of life.
Our experienced attorneys will calculate the present and future costs of your injuries to be sure that your injury claim reflects the full extent of your losses. We will seek all potential sources of insurance that may compensate you to maximize the amount of your recovery.
Call Our Palm Coast Fatigued Driving Accident Lawyers
If a fatigued driver caused your accident and injuries, you may be burdened with medical bills and financial stress. You may be experiencing one of the most difficult times in your life. But Florida law allows you to seek restitution for injuries caused by another driver’s carelessness or negligence. Call Chiumento Dwyer Hertel Grant or reach us using our online contact form, to arrange a consultation with an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer.
Our law firm is committed to standing up for your rights and pursuing the maximum compensation you are entitled to seek under the law.