People fall asleep while driving more often than you would think. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4% of participants in a survey involving almost 150,000 adults stated that they fell asleep behind the wheel at least once in the previous month.
When a car crash occurs because of drowsy driving, it may be possible to argue a successful auto accident claim. Here are some important facts to note.
Fatigue and sleepiness cause some of the same physical and mental effects as alcohol impairment. People who are drowsy are not able to pay full attention to the road, have a slower reaction time and have impaired judgment. This may cause them to drift across lanes or fail to stop in traffic.
Drivers may become fatigue-impaired if they get fewer than six hours of sleep, take medications, have a sleep disorder or work long shifts or night shifts.
Accident victims can also file a claim that the other driver was negligent. In order to successfully argue a claim of negligence, the claimant must prove four main elements:
- The respondent had a duty of care
- The respondent did not uphold the duty of care
- The lack of duty resulted in injury
- The claimant suffered damages due to the injury
It may be difficult to prove that a driver fell asleep at the wheel and caused an auto accident because after the crash, adrenaline seriously alters the physical and mental state of those involved.
As with any auto accident claim, it is important to collect proper evidence and maintain copies of any paperwork submitted. For example, some police officers may ask drivers how much sleep they got in the 24 hours before the crash, and this information may be available in the police report. If there are witnesses who noticed the driver nodding off or driving poorly before the accident, that may also support the claim.