Drowsy Driving Accident Lawyer in Winter Haven
Many people get behind the wheel when they are tired without realizing what a dangerous decision they are making. Some individuals may not even realize how tired they are until it is too late. If you were seriously hurt in a drowsy driving accident caused by someone else, you can be compensated for your losses in Florida.
Compensation for injuries suffered in a drowsy driving accident can come through your no-fault auto insurer and potentially a personal injury claim against the at-fault party. It’s always wise to seek advice from an experienced attorney before making any settlement decisions.
Talk to a Winter Haven drowsy driving accident lawyer at Brooks Law Group today. Our team of proven injury attorneys is committed to obtaining maximum results for each and every client. Not only that, we can do the majority of the legal work with as few disruptions to your life as possible. Let us pursue justice while you focus on healing.
Call or contact us today for a free consultation.
How Dangerous is Driving While Tired?
A lack of sleep affects the body in many ways, especially a person’s ability to drive safely. According to the National Sleep Foundation, a driver that is operating with little to no sleep 24 hours prior to getting behind the wheel is functioning at the same level as someone who is drunk driving.
Drowsy drivers tend to have:
- Slower reaction times
- Poor concentration and attention
- Poor judgment when reacting to traffic and road conditions
- Delayed motor skills
- Blurred vision
- Impatience and irritability towards other drivers
- An increased likelihood to speed or drive too slowly
- Intensified impairment if taking certain medications
- Lack of awareness when drifting out of lanes
Fatigued drivers are also at greater risk for experiencing micro-sleep. Micro-sleep is an uncontrollable sleep episode that can last anywhere from just a fraction of a second to 10 full seconds. This may not sound like a long time, but a driver on a highway can travel the length of a football field during just four or five seconds of micro-sleep. When traveling such a long distance and having no control of a vehicle, drowsy drivers can cause an immense amount of damage and injuries if an accident occurs.
Drowsy Driving Accident Investigations in Winter Haven
Drowsy drivers are unlikely to tell law enforcement they were tired at the time of the accident, either in an effort to shield themselves from liability or because they truly aren’t sure what happened. Sadly, that means drowsy driving is likely an underreported cause of accidents in Florida.
After a crash, victims often think there is no way to determine if a driver was overtired. Fortunately, that’s not true. An experienced Winter Haven drowsy driving accident lawyer will conduct an investigation to determine whether a tired driver caused a crash.
During the investigation, a lawyer will collect certain evidence that can establish a driver was drowsy, such as:
- An accident report: Police should always be called to the scene when a crash involves injury or death. After analyzing the scene and speaking to everyone involved and any witnesses, the responding officer will write and file an accident report. The report may contain important information, such as that the driver ran right through a traffic light into a crowded intersection, but there were no skid marks. This can help prove that the driver did not even attempt to apply the brakes, possibly because they were asleep.
- Cell phone records: Phone records prove much more than whether a driver was using the phone at the time of an accident. The GPS tracking information can also indicate whether a driver was on the road for a long period of time, which could make them more tired.
- Debit or credit card receipts: Receipts are time-stamped to show when the person stopped to make purchases or gas. If a driver falsely claimed to have made rest breaks, debit or credit card receipts could prove otherwise.
- Prescription records: If a driver was taking medication that had a known side effect of making one tired, that can also help prove the accident was caused by drowsiness.
- Witness statements: Someone who saw the accident, or the moments leading up to it, may have noticed the driver nodding off behind the wheel or driving erratically. Eyewitness testimony can be very valuable in a drowsy driving accident claim.
While you are recovering from your injuries, a drowsy driving accident lawyer will gather the evidence needed to support a claim for maximum compensation for you.
Liability in a Fatigued Driving Car Accident
All motorists have a responsibility to drive in a way that keeps everyone on the road safe. When drivers neglect to live up to their responsibilities, they can be held liable for any accidents they cause. To prove another driver was liable for your crash, you must prove negligence. There are four elements that must be proven, including:
- The other driver owes you a duty of care: All drivers on the road owe everyone a duty to keep others safe, so this element is the easiest to establish.
- The other driver breached that duty: Proving that a driver breached their duty of care, or acted with negligence, is more difficult to prove. When another driver is tired, it requires a full investigation and collection of evidence to satisfy this requirement of your case.
- The other driver caused an accident: Another driver simply being tired is not enough to win a car accident claim. They must act negligently due to their drowsiness, and that negligence must be the direct cause of the accident.
- You suffered injury as a result: Car accident claims are intended to make victims whole again by compensating them for their injuries and other losses.
Proving liability is one of the most difficult aspects of any car accident claim. It becomes especially challenging because there are no tests that can definitively prove that a driver was tired. A drowsy driving accident lawyer will know what it takes to build a strong claim and defend it well.
How to Avoid Driving While Fatigued
Just as you can hold other drivers liable for drowsy driving, other drivers can also hold you liable if you are tired and get behind the wheel. For this reason, it is essential that all drivers know how to avoid driving while fatigued. You should:
- Avoid driving when you normally sleep: Most drowsy driving accidents occur between the hours of midnight and 4 a.m., times when most people are asleep. If you can avoid driving during these times, you will be more likely to avoid driving while drowsy.
- Get proper sleep: Most adults require a minimum of seven hours of sleep every night, although that varies from person to person. Always make sure you get enough sleep, especially when you are about to drive.
- Avoid heavy meals: Large or heavy meals, such as pasta, are much more likely to make you tired.
- Drive together: Driving with another person can greatly reduce drowsy driving because you can switch driving shifts. This is particularly important when you are going to be traveling for long periods of time.
- Make regular stops: Take regular rest breaks if you are on a long trip. Generally speaking, you should stop for a rest break every two hours or every 100 miles that you drive.
- Give yourself plenty of time: Making sure you have lots of time to arrive at your destination will make it more likely that you can stop and rest when you need to.
- Understand your medications: Always fully understand what medications you are taking and their side effects.
- Drink caffeine: While you should not rely on caffeine, drinking a caffeinated beverage such as coffee can help you remain alert for a short period of time when you first recognize the signs of fatigue. However, caffeine is not a substitute for sleep.
If you were hurt and believe the other driver was drowsy, call a lawyer to learn about your rights to compensation.
When Should I Contact a Lawyer?
It never hurts to contact a lawyer after any drowsy driving accident, but there are times when it is essential. Always call an attorney if:
- The accident caused a significant injury or death.
- Liability is unclear.
- The accident report does not clearly indicate what happened.
- There are concerns regarding insurance policy limits.
- The insurance company is denying coverage to you.
The statute of limitations to bring a car accident claim for negligence is four years from the date of the crash in Florida. If you file your claim after this time, you will likely forfeit your right to compensation.
An Experienced Winter Haven Drowsy Driving Lawyer Can Help You Today
If you have been hurt by a fatigued driver in Winter Haven, a drowsy driving accident lawyer at Brooks Law Group can help. We’ll take your case seriously. You can rely on us to seek the maximum compensation that takes all of your physical, financial, and emotional losses into account.
Not sure where to start? We know exactly what to do. Call or contact us for a free consultation today.