If a Fatigued Driver Injured Me, Do I Have a Case?
Car driver fatigue is a significant contributor to accidents in Connecticut. If you suffered injuries in an accident due to a fatigued driver—or you think fatigue might be the cause of your accident—there are some things you should know. One is that you may have a good case to recover compensation with the help of an experienced car accident lawyer.
What is car driver fatigue?
Fatigue refers to weariness or exhaustion from labor, exertion, or stress. Fatigue may occur when someone lacks proper sleep or has a condition that causes chronic fatigue. Conditions like narcolepsy may mimic the effects of fatigue, causing someone to fall asleep spontaneously.
Many factors might contribute to fatigue, including:
- Lack of exercise
- Underlying medical conditions
- Jet lag
- Excessive physical activity
- Certain medications
- Poor eating habits (or simply eating a large meal)
- Drug or alcohol use
These factors may not cause fatigue in every case. They are, however, risk factors that may explain why someone feels fatigued.
Driver fatigue occurs when someone operates a motor vehicle while in a fatigued state. In many cases, a driver may be alert when they begin driving but may develop fatigue over time. Whether you’re tired when you get in the driver’s seat or become fatigued after a period of driving, your tiredness poses a danger to others.
Why is driver fatigue dangerous?
Drowsy driving is dangerous because it can potentially lead a driver to crash and cause serious injuries or fatalities.
When someone is tired, they may:
- Close their eyes for a longer period than is safe
- Be less attentive
- Miss traffic signals, pedestrians, and sudden changes in the roadway
- Have slower reaction times
- Be unable to break in time to avoid an accident
- Veer out of their lane
- Pose a great danger to themselves and others
There are few things as dangerous as someone closing their eyes while driving—even for a split-second too long.
How common is driver fatigue?
You may often hear about driver fatigue regarding commercial truck drivers. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) limits truck drivers’ hours to avoid the dangers of fatigue. Car drivers may drive for long periods, too. Even if they’re not on the road for a significant stretch, a car driver may be drowsy for other reasons.
One in 25 drivers reported falling asleep in the past 30 days. This counts only the drivers who fell asleep—not necessarily those who were overly tired but managed to remain awake. We cannot know for certain how many accidents result from fatigued driving, as many drivers fail to report fatigue during an accident investigation.
Who is responsible for harm that a fatigued driver causes?
A fatigued driver should pay for harm resulting from their fatigued state. Every motorist must observe their condition and act accordingly. If there is any doubt that someone can drive safely, they must refrain from driving.
When a driver recognizes that they are tired, they may:
- Pull to a safe area away from the roadway to rest
- Get coffee, an energy drink, or another legal aid that helps them remain alert
- Find lodging for the night if they’re driving in the evening
- Find a rest stop where they can get rest, exercise, a breather, or whatever else they need to continue driving safely
The matter is straightforward: fatigued drivers must not keep driving while tired. If they continue to drive, they pose a great risk of causing an accident. They may be liable for any accident that they cause.
Drunk drivers are a unique case. Because their fatigue may be alcohol-related, evidence might include criminal convictions, or liability may extend to an establishment that served the driver alcohol. If the legal system deems the establishment negligent, then it may need to pay for a victim’s losses.
What should you do if a fatigued driver caused your accident?
You might seek compensation if a fatigued driver caused your accident. An insurance claim or lawsuit may be two options for you.
- Seek medical attention: By seeing a medical professional, you’ll protect yourself from the danger of undiagnosed injuries. You may also create a record that you suffered injuries, which is important in both insurance claims and lawsuits.
- Hire a qualified car accident lawyer: A lawyer can help you in several ways. They’ll explain the next steps for you to seek justice.
A lawyer should handle the vast majority of your case.
Why should you hire a car accident lawyer for an accident involving driver fatigue?
Cases involving driver fatigue may pose several challenges. You will want to prove that the at-fault driver was fatigued, but doing so may require significant resources. A law firm should have those resources—and more.
You may hire a car accident law firm to:
- Investigate your accident
- Obtain evidence, including anything that suggests the at-fault driver was tired at the time of your accident
- Interview witnesses, including anyone who witnessed the driver’s fatigued state
- Calculate the value of your damages
- Obtain documentation of your damages
- Draft and file your case
- Deal with insurance companies
- Communicate with attorneys for defendants in your case
- Negotiate a settlement
- Handle any necessary trial
A qualified firm will do everything necessary to complete your case. Proving driver fatigue may be difficult. An experienced and capable law firm won’t back down from the challenge.
What are the risks of handling a car accident case on your own?
Whether you’re facing an insurance claim or lawsuit, there is risk in handling your own case. You may be dealing with significant injuries. Should you add the stress of a case, those injuries may worsen. Your mental health may also suffer.
There is also the risk that you lose your case. Though a lawyer does not guarantee victory, they may have a record of victories. Their experience, legal training, and in-house resources may be a benefit to your case. If you want to ensure you receive full financial recovery for your accident-related losses, consider hiring a car accident attorney right away.