Cary Drowsy Driving Lawyers
Drowsy driving, or driving while sleep deprived, is similar to drunk driving. Lack of sleep affects a driver’s ability to remain focused, impairs decision making and slows reaction time. Drowsy driving, also known as “fatigued driving,” is a factor in thousands of traffic fatalities and injuries each year. Sleepy drivers who get behind the wheel are risking their own lives and the lives of others who share the roadways.
At Hardison & Cochran, our drowsy driving car accident attorneys understand the disruption that a serious accident can cause. Our attorneys can answer your questions and provide compassionate legal guidance based on decades of experience. We represent people in North Carolina who have been injured as a result of others’ disregard for safety. During more than 30 years of practice, Hardison & Cochran has helped many North Carolina families. Let us review the details of your accident during a free consultation and discuss your legal options.
If you’ve been in a car accident caused by another driver’s falling asleep at the wheel, call the experienced North Carolina drowsy driving accident lawyers at Hardison & Cochran toll free at (800) 434-8399 now or fill out our online contact form. You’ll get a response within 24 hours. If we can help you, we will offer to represent you on a contingent fee basis. You will not be expected to pay a legal fee unless we obtain money for you through a negotiated settlement or jury award.
How Drowsy Driving Causes N.C. Car Accidents
Critical aspects of driving impairment associated with sleepiness are reaction time, vigilance, attention and information processing, according to a landmark study entitled “Drowsy Driving and Automobile Crashes” by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
In addition to causing impaired driving, researchers concluded that fatigue or sleepiness can ultimately lead to the inability to resist falling asleep at the wheel.
The NHTSA says a typical crash related to drowsiness or falling asleep at the wheel has the following characteristics:
- The crash happens after midnight (late night / early morning) or at midafternoon.
- The driver does not attempt to avoid the crash.
- The crash is likely to be serious.
- The crash occurs on a high-speed road.
- A single vehicle runs off of the roadway.
- The driver is alone in the vehicle.
The scenario implied by the NHTSA study is scary: A drowsy driver falls soundly asleep and simply plows into the first object the unguided vehicle happens upon. Another possible scenario: The sleepy driver nods off long enough to slip off of the road and, upon over-correcting, crosses the centerline and slams into another vehicle at full speed.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation does not specifically address drowsy driving in its 2017 accident statistics. But it does provide data about two contributing factors that are typically associated with fatigued driving accidents:
- Overcorrected/oversteered—9,910 crashes, 134 fatal crashes, 3,858 accidents causing injuries
- Crossed centerline/Going wrong way—9,400 crashes, 262 fatal crashes, 4,248 crashes causing injuries.
Drivers at the highest risk of drowsy driving are:
- Young drivers ages 16 to 29, especially young men
- Shift workers, whose sleep is disrupted by alternating day and night shifts and irregular hours
- People with untreated sleep disorders such as sleep apnea syndrome and narcolepsy.
The use of certain medications, including over-the-counter allergy medicines, sedatives like anxiolytic hypnotics, tricyclic antidepressants and some antihistamines, can cause drowsiness. Alcohol, a sedative, compounds the effect that drowsiness has on physical and mental activity. When combined, they substantially increase the risk of a car crash.
Drowsy Driving Accident Investigations
Drowsy driving often goes unreported as a cause of a crash. Drivers may not tell police that they were sleepy or nodding off at the wheel before an accident occurred. An experienced drowsy driving car accident lawyer can conduct an independent investigation and determine whether fatigue was a contributing factor in a crash that caused your injuries.
A standard accident report contains data that could provide evidence of drowsy driving. This might be reflected in the type of accident, such as one in which a car plows through a stoplight and into a crowded intersection. Such an accident scene would lack skid marks, which indicates the driver did not brake to avoid the crash.
A driver’s cell phone record would contain geographic data that could demonstrate whether he has traveled a long distance over an extended period of time. Workplace or school records, plus the testimony of co-workers or classmates, would help to outline the driver’s activities prior to a car crash, or might illustrate a pattern of long hours awake and active.
Debit or credit card receipts and/or witness testimony might indicate that a driver had something to eat or drink before an accident that could have made him drowsy. A driver’s prescription for a medication that causes drowsiness would also be a factor.
The types of records and witnesses above would be obtained as part of evidence in a lawsuit following a drowsy driving accident.
Drivers who get behind the wheel when they are too sleepy to drive safely should be held accountable when their recklessness results in accidents that harm others. People who are hurt because another driver falls asleep at the wheel have a right to pursue personal injury lawsuits to obtain compensation for their losses. If someone is killed in a wreck caused by fatigued driving, the surviving family members might pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against the drowsy driver.
How an Attorney Can Help After a Drowsy Driving Accident
An experienced attorney can review the details of your accident and help you determine whether you have a valid falling asleep while driving accident insurance claim.
If we handle your case, the attorneys at Hardison & Cochran can gather evidence to support your drowsy driving injury claim and calculate your losses, including medical bills, missed work and other related expenses.
The attorneys will identify the at-fault party and all the insurance policies available to provide compensation for your auto accident injuries. In some instances, multiple parties may share fault for a motor vehicle accident. We can prepare and submit a demand letter to the appropriate insurance company or companies, seeking full compensation for your injuries and losses.
Our attorneys will deal with the insurance companies, allowing you to focus on your recovery. An experienced attorney is in a stronger position to negotiate effectively and prevent an insurance company from taking advantage of someone who is struggling to recover from injuries and experiencing financial stress.
Our experienced trial attorneys can take a drowsy driving accident case to court to seek justice on your behalf if the insurer refuses to offer a fair settlement.
What are the peak times for sleep related accidents?
Crashes related to sleepiness can occur at any time of the day or night. But drowsy driving accidents occur most frequently late at night between midnight and 6 a.m., when people are typically asleep, and in late afternoon. During both of these periods, people experience dips in circadian rhythm, which is the internal clock that regulates sleep. If you haven’t had enough sleep, the dips are more intense.
What is the best way to avoid a drowsy driving crash?
The most effective way to avoid causing a drowsy driving crash is to get adequate sleep. It’s important to be well-rested when setting out on a long drive and to take breaks if you start to feel sleepy. If you start nodding off or drifting onto the rumble strips beside the road, it’s important to pull over at a safe location and take a 20-minute nap. Be aware of whether drowsiness is a side effect of any of the medications that you take. Consider the option of public transportation if you must take medications that cause sleepiness. Consumption of alcohol interacts with fatigue to increase drowsiness, so avoid drinking alcohol before driving.
Contact Our North Carolina Drowsy Driving Lawyers Today
If you have been hurt or a loved one has died in a car accident attributed to drowsy driving, you need the help of attorneys who have the experience and resources to protect your rights. Fatigued driving, like drunk or drugged driving, is a choice. Those who drive when they need sleep and cause accidents that harm others must be held accountable for their negligence and recklessness.
Contact the experienced North Carolina drowsy driving accident lawyers at Hardison & Cochran toll free at (800) 434-8399 today, or fill out our online contact form. We represent victims of drowsy driving accidents in Raleigh, Cary, Wake County, Research Triangle Park, Durham and elsewhere in the Triangle, as well as in Fayetteville, Dunn, Southern Pines, Wilmington, Person County, Greensboro and the Triad, and throughout the state of North Carolina.