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Asleep at the Wheel: What to Do Following an Accident Caused by ‘Drowsy Driving’

May 8, 2015 - Articles - by Dodson & Hooks, APLC

According to a risk assessment conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, as many as 103 million American drivers admit to falling asleep at the wheel at some point in their lives. Of this group, approximately 11 million motorists admitted to nearly causing – or actually causing – an accident as a result of their drowsy driving. Furthermore, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently released the following approximations with regard to driver fatigue in the U.S.:

  • Roughly 100,000 police-reported accidents occur as a result of driver fatigue annually
  • Approximately 71,000 motorists are injured, 1,550 fatally, as a result of involvement in a fatigue-related accident
  • An estimated $12.5 billion is lost annually as a result of property damage and insurance claims following a drowsy driving accident

According to these statistics, driver fatigue is a major, life-threatening problem plaguing American roadways – a problem that affects virtually all drivers at some point in their adult lives.

However, failing to recognize the onset of major fatigue while driving – and failure to take the proper precautionary measures – may be an actionable form of driver negligence and we encourage you to contact Dodson & Hooks, ALPC right away if you were recently involved in a collision possibly related to drowsy driving.

Car Accidents & Fatigue: What’s a Plaintiff to Do?

Unlike accidents involving intoxication, proving driver drowsiness may prove more difficult – but not impossible. Much like any other cause of action for negligence, a successful plaintiff in a drowsy driving case must show that the defendant acted unreasonably under the circumstances, thereby causing the collision and resulting injuries.

In an accident involving driver fatigue, proving “unreasonable” conduct will require an in-depth review of the facts leading up to the collision. Oftentimes, this begins with a review of the defendant’s work hours immediately leading up to the incident, particularly if the defendant maintains a job with obscure shift times or excessive overtime.

For example, if the facts show that the defendant was working several double shifts in a row during the week in question and had just left his third 12-hour overnight shift that week, it may be possible to find the defendant acted unreasonably by not taking a nap or getting rest prior to driving.

In a related matter, drowsy driving has become a major issue with regard to commercial truck drivers required to maintain grueling hours without the benefit of rest and regular breaks. If this is the case, an injured plaintiff may actually pursue the driver’s employer for damages, premised on the notion that no reasonable supervisor would require a driver to work beyond practical and safe limits.

Contact the Skilled Baton Rouge Car Accident Attorneys of Dodson Hooks, ALPC Today!

If you were recently injured in an auto accident and you believe drowsy driving may be to blame, we encourage you to contact our Baton Rouge office for help right away. To reach our team of dedicated car accident attorneys, call 800-644-0633.

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