Have you ever gotten behind the wheel after a poor night’s sleep? You’re not alone. Estimates suggest that 35 percent of adults are operating on less than seven hours of sleep per day. Even more disturbingly, more than 40 percent of motorists admit to falling asleep while driving. Clearly, drowsy driving is a serious threat to our safety on the road.

Fatigued driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. But if you were hit by a tired driver, your case may be more difficult to prove. Unlike impaired driving claims, there are no scientific tests that can prove a driver was overtired. However, a skilled drowsy driving accident lawyer can help collect the evidence necessary to show that fatigue caused the accident that harmed you.

Look to Brooks!

If you were hurt in a drowsy driving crash in Tampa, you could be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries and related losses. Put Brooks Law Group to work for you. Our team of trusted lawyers will investigate your case and build a solid claim that shows how the accident has impacted your life.

Since 1992, our trusted attorneys have fought for injured Floridians just like you. Our hard work ethic and results-oriented approach have resulted in millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts recovered on behalf of our clients.

Find out how we can help you today. Call or contact us now for a free consultation.

How Dangerous Is Driving While Tired?

Drowsy driving is a widespread problem. It carries a great risk not only for the health and safety of the driver, but to all the other people on their route.

Driving while fatigued has similar effects on the body as alcohol does. Drowsy drivers experience reduced reaction times, blurry or unfocused vision, inability to focus properly, and poor judgment. Tired drivers will have a hard time noticing and appropriately responding to potential dangers on the road.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 91,000 officially-reported crashes involving drowsy drivers in 2017, the latest year for which data is available. Of those collisions, 50,000 people were hurt, and 800 were killed.

NHTSA adds that these numbers may be grossly underreported. In fact, the agency estimates that as many as 6,000 fatalities may be the result of drowsy driving each year.

Drowsy Driving Prevention and Awareness

Fatigued driving statistics may be considerably higher in Tampa and other high-density areas. Recognizing this, the Florida legislature has designated the first week of September every year as Drowsy Driving Prevention Week in order to educate others on the risks of driving while fatigued.

In addition, the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles keeps an interactive Drowsy Driving Dashboard to keep its drivers aware of the actual outcome of drowsy driving.

The most current numbers on drowsy driving are not good in Florida.

  • Total driving crashes: 20,276
  • Serious bodily injury crashes from drowsy driving: 1,127
  • Serious bodily injuries from drowsy driving: 1,419
  • Fatal drowsy driving crashes: 89
  • Fatalities from drowsy driving crashes: 100

Keep in mind that these figures only take into account crashes where a law enforcement officer notes that fatigue was a contributing factor to a wreck. Unless the driver admits it, it might be difficult to tell he or she was sleepy at the time of the collision.

Drowsy Driving Accident Investigations in Tampa

In order to recover compensation for losses in car accidents, you must prove driver negligence. Any negligence claim must be supported by strong proof.

Potential sources of evidence in a drowsy driving accident investigation include:

  • Evidence from the accident scene: Skid markstam (or lack thereof) can indicate that the driver was not in full control of the vehicle prior to the accident. Photographs, video footage, and other physical evidence may also show that the driver was nodding off or asleep at the time of the collision.
  • Eyewitness accounts: Witnesses may have observed the drowsy driver’s actions. Statements about how the vehicle was moving, such as swerving, drastically changing speeds, or drifting into other lanes, are good indications of a driver’s lack of awareness and control.
  • Expert witness statements: Accident reconstruction experts can analyze crash data to help determine what happened, while medical and financial experts may be able to speak to the extent of your losses.
  • Medical records: The driver’s medical records could show that he or she may have been taking medications or illegal drugs that cause drowsiness. Medical histories can also indicate whether the driver suffers from any sleep disorders that are known to cause fatigue, such as sleep apnea.
  • Phone records, GPS data, and receipts: This information may help chart the driver’s route and schedule, which can reveal how long he or she had been driving at the time of the crash.
  • Social media postings: If the driver has an active social media account, there may be posts that indicate what they were doing on the day (or days) leading up to the accident.

Liability in a Fatigued Driving Car Accident

With regard to liability, Florida follows a no-fault car insurance system. This means that no matter who was at fault for the accident, you will need to first turn to your own personal injury protection (PIP) insurance, which will cover your medical expenses, lost wages, and other types of financial losses resulting from the crash. However, no-fault insurance will not cover your pain and suffering and other types of non-economic losses.

If you suffer injuries that are considered serious under Florida law, such as a bone fracture or permanent injury, or an injury that results in full disability for 90 days, you have the option to step outside of the no-fault system and file an injury claim or lawsuit against the at-fault driver.

Economic and Non-Economic Losses

In an injury claim or lawsuit, you can pursue compensation for both economic and non-economic losses, such as:

  • Medical expenses: The cost of treatment of any injuries caused by the accident. This includes future therapies that may be necessary.
  • Property damage: Any personal or real property damage caused by the accident.
  • Lost wages: Any income that is lost due to time taken off of work in order to recover from injuries. In addition, any future income loss can be included if you are disabled due to the wreck.
  • Permanent disfigurement: Any losses that you have suffered directly as a result of permanent scarring and other disfigurement from the crash.
  • Pain and suffering: Any physical, mental or emotional pain and suffering directly and reasonably caused by the accident.

In the event that a death occurs because of an accident involving a drowsy driver, the survivor of the deceased can also claim compensation for funeral expenses, loss of companionship, and emotional and mental suffering.

The amount of compensation you receive will depend, in part, on the extent of the injuries you suffered in the drowsy driving car accident.

Some of the most common injuries include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Neck injuries, such as whiplash
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Amputation
  • Broken bones
  • Internal injuries
  • Crush injuries
  • Paralysis
  • Facial injuries, scarring, and disfigurement
  • Cuts and lacerations
  • Burns
  • Bruises

How to Avoid Driving While Fatigued

Drowsy driving is common and can happen for many different reasons, such as:

  • Lack of sleep: We normally require seven to nine hours of sleep to function properly. More than one-third of Americans don’t get enough sleep. Don’t drive unless you are fully rested. Take naps whenever possible to help compensate for the loss of sleep.
  • Long driving shifts: Repetitive and uninterrupted tasks can make our bodies bored or relaxed. In either case, we can become sleepy. Make sure to take regular breaks on long trips. The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles suggest that fatigued drivers in Tampa and surrounding cities should take a break every two hours. This is about every 100 miles.
  • Medication: Never drive until you understand how certain medications will affect you.
  • Alcohol: Even if you aren’t legally drunk, alcohol can have a sedative effect on the body. Don’t get behind the wheel if you have been drinking.
  • Night driving: Our body’s circadian rhythms, which regulate our sleep cycle, may make it more difficult for us to stay awake when we drive at night. Avoid driving between 12 midnight and 4 a.m. whenever possible.
  • Sleep disorders: Many people suffer from sleep disorders, like sleep apnea, that can make them more susceptible to losing consciousness. Notably, Florida has issued license restrictions to drivers with untreated sleep disorders. Make sure to follow your doctor’s orders for driving if you’re living with a sleep disorder.
  • Don’t push yourself: Be aware of the signs of fatigue and pull over when you start experiencing them. Common signs of fatigue include difficulty keeping your eyes open, losing track of where you are, drifting between lanes, daydreaming, and yawning.

Sometimes, drivers try unconventional things in order to wake themselves up. This can range from opening up the car windows, turning up the radio, singing, and even slapping themselves on the cheeks. While these may help reduce drowsiness temporarily, they are no substitute for sleep. Pull over and stop as soon as possible.

When Should I Contact a Lawyer?

If you were in a car accident caused by a fatigued driver, a drowsy driving accident lawyer in Tampa can:

  • Coordinate a full investigation of the accident
  • Help you get the best medical treatment and resources you need
  • Collect and review all the available and necessary evidence to build a strong claim for you
  • Enlist assistance from experts to provide opinions and testimony supporting your case
  • Negotiate directly with the insurance company(s) involved
  • Represent you in court, if necessary

You must file a drowsy driving accident claim within four years from the date of the accident. If a family member died in an accident caused by a fatigued driver, you have two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death claim in Florida. It’s very important to meet these deadlines. Fail to do so, and you could be barred from recovering compensation forever.

An Experienced Drowsy Driving Accident Lawyer in Tampa Can Help You

Brooks Attorney in FLIf you have been injured in a car accident caused by a drowsy driver in Central Florida, contact Brooks Law Group right away. Our attorneys are standing by to talk about your case and outline all of your legal options.

Experience and knowledge are the keys to a successful outcome in any case. Our attorneys have decades’ worth of experience in automobile accident injury claims. It’s our mission to obtain the highest compensation possible for our clients. We will fight to bring about the most favorable results. Don’t hesitate to call us or contact us online now.