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If You Have Been in An Accident with a Fatigued Driver Contact Veron, Bice, Palermo & Wilson, LLC to Learn All of Your Options.
We all know that not getting enough sleep can result in a grumpy start to the day. However, inadequate rest or sleep deprivation may pose more than just the risk of a bad attitude. It can end up costing someone their life. A survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation found that over 40 percent of drivers admitted to falling asleep at the wheel during some point in their lives. Over one-quarter of drivers even admitted to driving while they were “so sleepy they had a hard time keeping their eyes open” in just the past month.
Driving while fatigued significantly increases the driver’s risk of causing a serious accident. Victims of fatigued driving accidents are often left with traumatic injuries and mounds of medical bills. The bottom line is that driving while drowsy is reckless behavior, and victims impacted by that recklessness deserve compensation. At Veron, Bice, Palermo & Wilson, LLC, we seek to help Lake Charles victims recover the money they deserve while protecting their legal rights throughout the process.
If you or a loved one has been impacted by a fatigued driver and you need advice on what your next steps should be, contact the car accident lawyers of Veron, Bice, Palermo & Wilson, LLC. We will review your situation and advise you on what your best course of action is to recover the money you deserve. Talk to an experienced fatigued driving accident attorney and schedule your free consultation by calling 337-800-8800 today.
Pinpointing Driver Fatigue
Driver fatigue, sometimes also referred to as drowsy driving, happens when a driver does not get the adequate amount of sleep or quality rest. An unhealthy level of rest or sleep from either physical or mental exertion manifests itself in several different and destructive ways. While the impacts of driving while drunk are obvious and have been drilled into the public consciousness for decades, many people are still unaware of the potentially catastrophic nature of driving while fatigued. Scientific sleep studies and research conducted by the Sleep Foundation have found that drowsy driving is actually very similar to drunk driving.
Sleep deprivation impacts the body in much the same way as alcohol, causing a significant decrease in physical coordination and reaction time as well as resulting in a slow-down of the body’s mental functions, such as decision making and cognition. After 18 hours of being awake, the body reacts as if it had a BAC of .05 percent. That means the body experiences a slow-down in reaction time, reduced ability to mentally focus, and impaired basic hand and eye coordination. After 20 hours awake, the body reacts as if it had a BAC of .08 percent or the equivalent to the legal limit for being drunk. A study conducted by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that even mild sleep deprivation can lead to dangerous consequences for drivers. Only getting between six and seven hours of sleep per night almost doubled the risk of being involved in a traffic crash. Those who routinely get less than five hours of sleep per night doubled that risk again. Some of the other most common causes of fatigue include:
- Staying awake for a significant amount of consecutive hours
- Not getting enough quality or restful sleep over the course of multiple days
- Health conditions or medications that disrupt a healthy sleep cycle
- Drawn out or monotonous tasks
- Long periods of inactivity
- Time of day, driving late at night, or a disruption to the body’s natural circadian rhythm
- Fatigue from physical overexertion
Drivers Most Likely to be Involved in Fatigued Driving Accidents
According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy driving crashes more frequently occur between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m. or late in the afternoon. These times correspond to the natural dip in an individual’s circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle or internal clock.
While anyone can have a bad stretch of sleepless nights, some individuals are more prone to driving while drowsy than others. Long-haul truck drivers working on deadlines frequently have to drive late into the night to meet their delivery goals. The combination of long stretches on the road, sometimes monotonous scenery, and late nights make them particularly prone to driving while fatigued. Some of the other sections of the population prone to drowsy driving include:
- Shift workers
- Commercial truck and bus drivers
- Young drivers
- Business travelers with jet lag
- Drivers with sleep disorders
- Drivers with undiagnosed sleep disorders
- Drivers who use medication that can result in drowsiness
Consequences of Driving While Fatigued
It’s been established that drowsy driving is similar to drunk driving. When coordination is impaired, it can become nearly impossible to react to changes in road conditions or traffic patterns. By the time the brain tells the body to hit the brakes, it is often too late, and the driver has crashed traveling at a much higher rate of speed than they would have been had they not been impaired.
A decline in cognitive function can also spell disaster for drowsy drivers. Those with impaired cognition show signs of poor judgment and decision-making skills while behind the wheel.
Extremely fatigued drivers are also at risk of falling asleep behind the wheel. Some drivers may even experience spells of “microsleep,” or brief episodes of falling asleep for anywhere between a fraction of a second up to 30 seconds. Physical and mental impairments or episodes of falling asleep behind the wheel can result in:
- Drifting in and out of lanes
- Driving on the shoulder then suddenly swerving back onto the road
- Missing exits
- Missing turns
- Driving through red lights or traffic signs
- Driving the wrong way
These driving behaviors put the drowsy driver and everyone else on the road at risk. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that fatigued driving crashes result in over 1,550 fatalities and 71,000 injuries on U.S. roads. The very nature of a drowsy driving crash means that injuries can be catastrophic. Some of the most common types of injuries associated with fatigued driving include:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Other head, neck, or spinal injures
- Fractured bones
- Dental injuries
- Organ damage
- Internal bleeding
- Lower extremity injuries
- Wrongful death
Compensation for a Fatigued Driving Crash
Driving while fatigued or drowsy is negligent and reckless behavior that puts both the driver and others at risk. In Louisiana, if you are the victim of a fatigued driving collision, there may be several methods available to you for seeking full and fair compensation for your injuries. Louisiana is a pure comparative fault state when it comes to car accident claims. The amount of money the victim can ultimately collect will be determined by the percentage of fault each party bears for causing the accident.
Here’s how pure comparative fault works. A drowsy driver hits you and causes an accident. They are found to be 90 percent at fault for causing the accident. However, at the time of the accident, you did not use your turn signal, and this action contributed to the accident. You are found to be 10 percent at fault for your role in causing the collision. You would then be entitled to the total amount of compensation, minus 10 percent. The pure comparative fault rule must be adhered to by both the courts and insurance adjusters when evaluating a car accident case or claim.
There is no hard and fast guidebook that tells the courts or insurance adjusters, “if situation A happens, that means the driver is 70 percent at fault. Or if situation B occurs under these circumstances, the victim is 20 percent at fault.” Liability is established by gathering evidence and presenting a compelling argument to the judge or claims adjuster. Securing an experienced fatigued driving attorney is a valuable way of building a strong case demonstrating why you deserve the maximum amount of compensation following a serious drowsy driving accident.
Contact an Experienced Lake Charles Fatigued Driving Attorney for Free
The aftermath of a fatigued driving accident can have severe physical and financial repercussions for victims. Medical bills can put an undue burden on a victim and make it difficult just to make ends meet. Should you be forced into debt because a reckless driver fell asleep behind the wheel? You have options for recovering compensation that will help cover your medical bills, time missed from work, and the damage to your car.
Fatigued driving cases can be difficult to prove, but the experienced legal team at Veron, Bice, Palermo & Wilson, LLC has a wealth of experience when it comes to handling fatigued driving cases. If you want to recover fair compensation for an accident involving a drowsy driver, contact Veron, Bice, Palermo & Wilson, LLC for help. The initial consultation is free, and we will be upfront and forthcoming about your situation and what you may be able to expect in the way of financial compensation. Talk to an experienced attorney today. Call 337-800-8800 to schedule your case evaluation.