Driver fatigue is a significant cause of motor vehicle accidents. Many drivers do not think of driving while drowsy as dangerous. Car driver fatigue is rampant on roads and highways across the country. Driving while you are sleepy is just as dangerous as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Falling asleep for even a second can cause a fatal car crash. If you are involved in a car accident with a fatigued driver, you should contact an experienced car accident lawyer to help you understand the process of receiving compensation.
Truck Driver Fatigue
When most people think of tired drivers and accidents, they typically think of truck drivers. Truck drivers have a dangerous profession. A tired truck driver is operating heavy machinery. If a truck driver gets into an accident, there is a high likelihood of significant injury or death.
Truck drivers who drive while fatigued are negligent. Every driver, including truck drivers, is responsible for sharing the road safely. Trucking companies that require their drivers to complete long drives and do not provide adequate rest breaks are liable for the harm done to accident victims. Trucking companies must be aware of the possibility that their drivers’ performances are suffering because of the lack of sleep. Companies may use devices like driver fatigue monitoring systems, a system that tracks the fatigue level of drivers, to prevent accidents involving big trucks.
Contact a truck accident lawyer to help you understand your legal options after you are involved in a motor vehicle accident with a fatigued driver. A truck accident lawyer will thoroughly understand what it takes to win a lawsuit against a trucking company. They can help you know who and when to sue, how to comply with deadlines and the rules of discovery, and help you draft and respond to motions, etc.
Attempting to go alone against a big truck company and their insurance company with a sizable legal team is not a good idea. There is no reason to fight alone. Call an accident lawyer before you speak to an insurance company or take a settlement offer from an insurance company.
Causes of Driver Fatigue
Various issues cause driver fatigue. Some conditions that lead to driver fatigue are lack of sleep and working for long periods without a break. Illnesses like insomnia or narcolepsy can cause lingering drowsiness during the next day, making it unsafe to drive. Whether overworking or illness, it is dangerous to go without adequate rest before driving a motor vehicle. An accident lawyer can help you understand your legal rights after being involved in an accident with a driver suffering from driver fatigue.
Driver fatigue can result from:
- Lack of sleep
- Lack of quality sleep
- Long periods of repeated activity
- New medications or new doses of medications
- Underlying disease
Signs of Driver Fatigue
Fatigue has some common symptoms. Fatigue is prolonged tiredness that causes you to lose some functional ability, including concentrating on everyday tasks. Fatigue can be acute or chronic. If fatigue is chronic, a person will have good days and bad days. People suffering from chronic fatigue may experience low energy to overwhelming exhaustion on bad days.
Signs of fatigue can include:
- Mood changes and irritability
- Losing motivation
- Lost ability to concentrate
- Reduced reaction speed
- Pain in abdomen
- Gastrointestinal problems including constipation, diarrhea, or bloating
Medical experts cite various causes for fatigue. Most causes of fatigue stem from either a physical illness or a habit that causes lack of sleep.
Some physical causes of fatigue include:
- Change in medication type or dose
- Liver disease
- Lung disease (COPD)
- Viral or bacterial infection
A person’s mental health struggles may also contribute to fatigue. Some people who suffer from fatigue may also suffer from anxiety or depression.
A fatigued driver may experience any of the above symptoms. Although it may be safe to drive while suffering from one of the above conditions, drivers should be aware that they may be negligent if they suffer from a condition that makes driving dangerous and decides to remain untreated, causing an accident. An experienced car accident lawyer can help an accident victim navigate legal options if you are in an accident with a fatigued driver.
Legal Consequences of Driving While Fatigued
A court may find a driver who operates a car while inadequately rested negligent.
To prove negligence, an accident victim must show the driver:
- Had a duty to the victim
- Failed to fulfill the duty to the victim
- Because of the failure to satisfy the duty, they harmed the victim
- The victim suffered damages
- A showing that the harm suffered by the victim is within the scope of liability
If the driver is found negligent, the driver may be liable for the victim’s consequences. When a driver is found liable for negligence, they are responsible for the damages suffered by the victim. Damages may include pain and suffering and permanent long-term injuries.
Pain and suffering include physical and mental or emotional trauma suffered by an accident victim because of an accident. Examples of mental or emotional trauma may consist of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Car accidents are traumatic experiences. Some victims experience PTSD by having triggers. Triggers can include sensitivity to sounds, lights, movements, and even words. These stimuli trigger negative memories for the accident victim and can debilitate a person. An accident victim is entitled to recovery for experiencing PTSD from an accident that was not their fault. Contact an accident injury lawyer to help you understand your rights to recovery from emotional trauma after a car accident.
A tired driver may be required to pay for a victim’s permanent or long-term injuries through their insurance policy. Although the government covers medical bills, tired drivers who cause an accident may be required to pay for a victim’s physical therapy or other long-term care that they may need because of the accident.
Understanding what recovery you are entitled to after an accident can be overwhelming. It may be beneficial for you to speak to a qualified accident injury lawyer with experience in getting compensation for clients. A good lawyer will keep you from getting intimidated by big insurance companies that only want the best for the insurance companies, not you. Talk to a qualified accident lawyer to help you navigate the process.
Have you ever “jerked” yourself awake? If you answered yes, then you may have experienced a microsleep. Microsleeps are very short periods where you fall asleep and stay asleep for only a few seconds. You may be about to experience a microsleep if you are slow to react to a conversation or other stimuli, cannot hold a conversation, or are yawning and having trouble keeping your eyes open.
Microsleeps are a form of driver fatigue that can lead to a motor vehicle accident. Perhaps you think microsleeps aren’t a big deal. It may seem like no harm can be done if I close my eyes for less than five seconds. However, the results of driving while having microsleeps can have tragic consequences.
In a few seconds of you driving with your eyes closed, you can swerve into another lane of traffic or oncoming traffic. You may be surprised that you can travel several hundred feet while having a microsleep. During a microsleep, your brain switches rapidly from consciousness to unconsciousness, and when you awaken, your reaction time may be too slow to take your vehicle out of danger.
Various medical conditions can cause microsleeps. You may feel drowsy for several days and have microsleeps if you have insomnia. Other sleeping conditions can cause microsleeps, such as having narcolepsy or sleep apnea. Some medical conditions not directly related to sleep disturbances, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, can lead to sleep deprivation and microsleeps.
Driver Fatigue and Ridesharing
Fatigue is a major issue in the ridesharing industry. Although Uber and Lyft seem like an integral part of life nowadays, companies are still not fully regulated. That means minor or no background checks and rare, if any, drug tests.
Ridesharing companies do not screen drivers for medical issues that cause sleeplessness or sleep deprivation, like sleep apnea or narcolepsy. Since employees are using their cars, there is very little oversight from the companies. That also applies to safety regulations or limits on how long a driver can work without a break.
Drivers usually take on ridesharing as a side job in addition to their full-time jobs, so they exchange sleep for extra money. People tend to spend whatever free time they must earn extra money. Ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft allow drivers to work 12-14 hours straight before taking a rest break.
Long periods doing the same things can increase the risk of microsleep. Higher sleep deprivation raises the risk of crashes. Even missing 1-2 hours of sleep per night can cause the average person to lose some cognitive ability and increase the chances of getting into an accident.
Driver Fatigue Monitoring System
A driver may not know that they are so sleep-deprived that they are impaired. A driver fatigue monitoring system can help drivers monitor how tired they are before they begin driving to help prevent motor vehicle accidents.
In a driver fatigue monitoring system, you can place a device in your vehicle or use an app on your phone to determine whether you have adequate rest to drive safely. A driver fatigue monitoring system works by scanning your eye before you drive. It measures the dilation of your pupil. It records data on how tired you are before you begin moving. Companies can use these systems’ data to make policies about how long drivers can drive without rest breaks. This data helps prevent traffic accidents by removing more fatigued drivers from the road.
COVID-19 Pandemic and Driver Fatigue
Fatigue can result from environmental factors, habits, or underlying illnesses. In the years since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have been looking for extra income, have dealt with the stress of caring for family members, worrying about the well-being of friends, trying to stay healthy, and many other stressors. The result of dealing with all this stress manifests in a lack of sleep.
Fatigue can be caused by a lack of quality sleep or long periods of wakefulness. Stress impairs our ability to get into a deep sleep which keeps us from entering REM sleep- the stage of sleep where our brain rests and our body regenerates, giving us the strength we need to face a new day. Things that stress us out also keep us from rest at all. We are more likely to experience fatigue if we go night after night without getting any sleep at all.
We still must work to keep a roof over our heads, feed our families, and pay our bills despite losing sleep. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, remote work has become more popular, but many of us still must commute to work. Many people drive motor vehicles with some level of driver fatigue. Driver fatigue can lead to dangerous consequences, including devastating traffic accidents that lead to death.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer
After an accident, accident lawyers can help auto crash victims get their lives back on track. It is beneficial to hire a lawyer when involved in an accident because your lawyer will represent you against large insurance companies. Although some people might think otherwise, insurance companies are not on your side. An insurance adjuster and an insurance company lawyer’s job are to get the best result for the insurance company.
A car accident lawyer will help you recoup your damages after an accident. Hiring an accident lawyer is the first step to creating a team of your own that fights as hard for you as the insurance company’s team is fighting for it. Protect yourself by getting a good auto accident lawyer on your side. For a free legal consultation and case evaluation, contact a car accident lawyer at MNH Injury Lawyers today for more information.