Asleep At The Wheel Accidents: What You Should Know

Last updated on: September 12, 2022

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Driving while drowsy is a dangerous practice that puts motorists at risk of injury and death. Many people ignore the feeling of tiredness and get behind the wheel anyway. Failing to appreciate the effect of being sleep-deprived, drowsy drivers increase the likelihood of a car accident.

If you have been injured in a car accident involving a drowsy driving accident, call the car accident attorneys from Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312. After our free consultation, we can help determine whether you have a compensation claim.

What Causes Drowsy Driving?

In the US, drowsy driving has become a serious issue. In fact, the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 633 people died because of drowsy driving in 2020. As NHTSA points out, in a society that operates 24/7, with an emphasis on work, many people do not get the sleep that they need.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Drowsy driving is the dangerous combination of driving and sleepiness or fatigue. This usually happens when a driver has not slept enough, but it can also happen because of untreated sleep disorders, medications, drinking alcohol, or shift work.

NHTSA points to late nights with friends, monotonous driving, and travel during the holidays as additional reasons why accidents can occur as the result of driving drowsing. Regardless of why the person who hit you was drowsy, the effects of their drowsiness are just the same. These effects include impaired cognition, performance and other health consequences. 

What Are The Characteristics Of Drowsy Driving Accidents?

Nobody can pinpoint the precise moment when sleep overtakes their body. Although it is obviously harmful to fall asleep while operating a vehicle, being sleepy still has an impact on your ability to operate a vehicle safely. Driving without sleep leads to:

  • Slower reaction times
  • Decreased awareness
  • Inability to sustain attention

Drowsy driving is particularly troubling when it results in an accident because in most cases, it comes down to personal responsibility. For example, one should know better than to go against the advice of their doctor and drive while using sleeping medication. Among those who are involved in drowsy driving accidents also includes:

  • Drivers who have not slept
  • Commercial vehicle drivers
  • Shift workers who work odd hours
  • People with sleep disorders, such as insomnia
  • People who use medication for going to sleep

An additional factor in drowsy driving car accidents is the time of the day that they occur. Most drowsy driving accidents occur between midnight and 6 a.m. As NHTSA explains, during this time, people experience dips in their circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is sometimes described as your internal clock which influences sleepiness.

Who Is Liable If The Driver Falls Asleep At The Wheel?

It can be difficult to demonstrate that someone was asleep when an accident occurred. Additionally, according to some state laws, you must demonstrate that the motorist was awake for 24 straight hours before the collision. It can be difficult, if not impossible, to get proof of someone’s whereabouts for a full day, and you will need to gather a lot of evidence.

Another means of establishing liability is to focus on violations of the law. For instance, if a police report reveals the vehicle veered out of its lane or into a busy intersection, that may indicate the driver failed to use the brakes in time to prevent the collision. Along with evidence of medication used to induce sleep, a jury can infer that the driver was asleep at the wheel at the time of the accident.

How Can You Prove A Driver Fell Asleep At The Wheel?

Whether the case is tried criminally or civilly will change the standard of proof that must be met to obtain a judgment against the defendant. In criminal cases, the state must establish certain facts beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a very high bar to meet. In a civil case, it will be your job to prove the relevant facts by a preponderance of the evidence, a challenging, but far less demanding standard.

Keep in mind that if the defendant is subject to criminal prosecution, you are still able to bring a civil claim against them. This means that even if there are criminal charges filed against the driver, it does not preclude you from initiating a lawsuit.

To obtain a civil judgment against the defendant, it is like that you will need the following types of evidence to prove your case:

  • Items in the car, such as prescription pill bottles
  • Blankets, pillows, maps, food wrappers, etc., showing the individual had driven a long distance
  • DUI arrest record, and other driving citations

Whether an automobile accident is a civil or criminal matter is related to the defendant’s level of liability. If someone is killed in the collision, the driver who reportedly dozed off might be prosecuted for reckless driving or possibly negligent murder. Additionally, certain state laws call for “severe blameworthiness,” “moral blameworthiness,” or “hazardous speeding” to be established by the prosecution to prove negligent homicide resulting from fatigued driving.

Need Help? Contact Zinda Law Group Today

Unfortunately, drowsy driving is a persistent threat to public safety. The drowsy driving accident lawyers from Zinda Law Group are aware of this issue and continue to help victims of fatigue-related car accidents. Our team of attorneys can assess the facts of your case and help determine your legal options.

For a 100% free case evaluation with a member of our team, call us at (800) 863-5312. We can help you with the collections and preservation of evidence, as well as communicating with other parties on your behalf and filing legal claims. Additionally, we provide offer a “No Win, No Fee Guarantee” which means that you will pay nothing unless we achieve a favorable settlement, judgment, or verdict for your case.

Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.