Drowsy Driving Vs Drunk Driving
Car accidents happen frequently all over Boston. Whether you are exiting a rotary during rush hour or heading to a game at Fenway, anytime you are in a vehicle, the congested traffic alone is enough to cause accidents. An accident is even more likely when certain drivers are impaired, and not just by alcohol—fatigue can just as well lead to an accident.
Among the many reasons for car accidents, driver fatigue is not discussed much. But driver fatigue is a dangerous behavior that can have negative consequences.
Drowsy Boston drivers have many of the same accident-causing impairments that drunk drivers do, such as slower reaction time. In our workaholic culture, drowsy driving might not be as stigmatized as drunk driving—but for victims of drowsy driving accidents, the harm is no less.
Driver Fatigue Defined
Driver fatigue is driving a vehicle when you are too tired to operate it safely. The Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”) has noted that drowsy driving results in the kinds of impairments and creates the risk of vehicle accidents in similar ways drunk driving does.
When you do not get enough sleep, your brain takes longer to react to situations around you, creating a high risk of an accident if you are driving. For example, you are driving drowsy when a car in front of you stops abruptly, but you can’t react the way you would if were you well-rested, and end up rear-ending the car ahead. When you are sleep-deprived, your reaction time is slower and that could cause serious accidents and injuries.
People experiencing drowsiness should not be driving. Some of the symptoms of driver fatigue to watch out for include:
- Delayed reaction
- Blurred vision
- Cloudy thoughts
- Rambling speech
- Impaired judgment
Driver fatigue can impair anyone who gets less than six hours of sleep for even just one night. People who suffer from sleep apnea, insomnia, and other sleep disorders may be constantly driving drowsy.
Proving Driver Fatigue in Boston Vehicle Accident Case
Driving drowsy is negligent, just as is driving when impaired by alcohol or in any other way. If you are injured in an auto accident in Boston and you suspect the other driver was fatigued, you could be entitled to compensation for your injuries.
When you suffer injuries in a Boston auto accident out of no fault of your own, it doesn’t matter whether the other driver caused the accident because they were drunk or drowsy—either way, if they had acted responsibly, you could have avoided injury. But to recover compensation in a lawsuit, you need to identify the specific reasons for the accident and collect evidence to prove a defendant’s negligent, reckless, or intentional conduct.
Proving driver drunkenness or drowsiness in a Boston auto accident can be difficult. Hiring a skilled Boston driver fatigue attorney can be a valuable resource, as they can investigate the accident and will know the signs to look for to determine whether drowsy driving played a part and how to prove it. Lawyers often hire auto accident experts who can review details of an accident and accurately determine the causes.
A lawyer may determine driver fatigue caused your accident by looking at circumstances unique to your accident, including:
- Skidmarks – A lack of skid marks may indicate that a driver fell asleep or reacted too slowly to put their foot on the brake before hitting your vehicle
- Time – If the accident occurred before sunrise or well after sunset, driver fatigue is more likely to have played a role in your accident
- Driver’s other activities – If the other driver was returning from work, maybe an overnight shift, they could have been fatigued and been driving drowsy
- Truck driver – If your accident was caused by a truck driver, we can review their logbook to see whether they drove for more hours continuously than legally allowed, and thus were more likely to have been drowsy.
People drive drowsy for countless reasons. No matter what contributed to the other driver’s fatigue, the result is your injury and mounting expenses and impacts to your life. Working with a knowledgeable driver fatigue lawyer in Boston, you can trust that your case is in good hands. By shifting the legal stress of proving driver fatigue to your lawyer, you can focus on healing while your attorney works diligently to recover every dollar you deserve.
Drowsy Driving Causes Boston Truck Accidents
Truck drivers spend their days and nights driving. Federal law requires truck drivers to take breaks and not drive more than 11 hours in a 14-hour window, and also must take ten hours off before starting their 14-hour window. But the law is not always strictly followed or enforced, and truck drivers in a hurry or who are behind time on a shipment may drive beyond those limits and become drowsy.
When truck drivers drive drowsy, the consequences can be even more catastrophic. Commercial trucks weigh many times more than regular passenger vehicles. A truck driver falling asleep behind the wheel may launch full-force into a smaller vehicle, with often fatal results. If you are involved in an accident with a tractor-trailer or other large commercial truck, you may be entitled to compensation from the truck driver. But you may also collect money from the driver’s employer, the trucking company, and other parties who may have contributed to the driver’s fatigue and resulting accident.
Common Injuries in Boston Driver Fatigue Cases
In one year, nearly 700 people in the U.S. died in car accidents involving driver fatigue. While not every driver fatigue car accident results in death, because the drowsy driver’s reaction time is slower, these accidents may happen at higher speeds and cause more serious injuries.
Common injuries in Boston driver fatigue accidents include:
- Broken bones
- Neck injuries
- Back injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Concussions and traumatic brain injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
Filing a Car Accident Claim
To recover compensation after an auto accident caused by a drowsy driver, you need to file a car accident claim. In Boston, you have three years after the date of your accident to file a car accident claim. In many drowsy driving accidents, a victim is left debilitated and in need of intensive medical care. Between their recovery and all of the other disruption caused by the accident, the time to file a claim can fly by.
Consider all the obstacles you may face:
- Long periods out of work
- Extended hospital stays
- Multiple surgeries
- In-facility rehabilitation
- In-home care
- Multiple doctor visits
While three years may seem like a long time, it can pass by with all of the demands on your attention following an accident. If you try to file outside of the statute of limitations—the legal term referring to the time to file—you will likely miss your chance to collect compensation from responsible parties.
Furthermore, delaying taking action might be detrimental in other ways, even if you file by the deadline. To recover compensation, you will need to build a case, which includes gathering evidence. Evidence, including witness statements and testimony, tends to fade with time. Of course, with all you have on your plate already following an auto accident, trying to figure out on your own what evidence you need and how to get it can be overwhelming.
Evidence and a Car Accident Claim
An experienced Boston vehicle accident attorney can help you ensure you do not miss your time to file and collect all critical evidence needed to build your case. While you are focusing on your health and well-being, your lawyer is focused on collecting all the evidence necessary to prove the other driver is to blame.
This evidence might include:
- Police and medical records
- Video surveillance
- Witness statements
- Analysis of accident and medical experts
Collecting this information takes time, and some level of investigation is typically necessary before you can file. Do not wait to contact a Boston driver fatigue lawyer. Contacting a lawyer as soon as possible after an accident is one of the best ways to move your financial recovery along as quickly as possible.
Recovering Compensation After Boston Drowsy Driving Accident
After a drowsy driver auto accident in Boston, your injuries might require extensive medical attention. This could result in enormous financial costs. After a serious car accident, family members may feel the need to work overtime or get another job to fill the financial gap when the injured family member is out of work. But covering these expenses should not be your burden, nor should it be the responsibility of your family.
Partnering with an experienced Boston driver fatigue car accident lawyer, your family may not need to feel that pressure. Your lawyer will work to collect maximum compensation so your family can be at your side while you heal, instead of taking on additional work to deal with the mounting bills.
To recover from the at-fault driver and other responsible parties, you will need to file a claim for damages. A lawyer can file this claim on your behalf, arguing that the other driver was negligent by driving fatigued and should pay compensation for the serious injuries that resulted.
Your lawyer may attempt to collect compensation for:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Lost wages
- Lost earning potential
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of life enjoyment
- Present and future medical bills
- Rehabilitation costs
Seeking Compensation for Drowsy Driving Accident Damages
Depending on the case, your life may change significantly after an accident, and adjusting to the new way of life is often costly. You may never work again, or at least not with the same earning capacity. You may require a lifetime of medical care. All of these needs place a heavy financial burden on you and your family. Even minor injuries can place families in financial distress. You should recover these costs from the responsible driver.
But the impacts you experience aren’t limited to the medical bills piling up on the kitchen table, though some assume that is the full amount of money they can collect from the negligent driver. That’s not the case. In fact, Boston’s drowsy driving victims may recover other losses, such as pain and suffering, as well.
This is another reason to talk to an attorney. They can help identify all potentially recoverable damages and help ensure you leave no stone unturned and fight for every penny you deserve. Together, you can create an accurate estimate of your future medical needs, giving you a clearer picture of how much money you will need to ensure that you and your family do not pay a dime out of your own pocket. Your medical bills and lost income will be a substantial portion of the money you need to recover, but your attorney will help tally up all other potential sources of recovery you can build into your estimate of damages.
Attempting to Settle a Boston Drowsy Driving Accident Case
The vast majority of auto accident cases settle outside of court. This isn’t thanks to the generosity of the insurance company representing the at-fault driver. Rather, defendants settle to limit their liability and avoid a court judgment that would require them to pay even more.
Insurance companies are particularly anxious to limit their potential liability. Soon after your accident, you may get a call from the fatigued driver’s insurance company. They may try to offer you a quick settlement. You may even want to take it. But it’s in your best interest to have a lawyer review your settlement offer to ensure it is fair and will be sufficient to cover your expenses.
The insurance company makes a quick offer hoping you will be desperate and accept right away. If you do sign the offer, you typically waive your right to bring any future claims against the insurance company for this accident. Months or years later when you still have medical bills to pay but the settlement funds have dried up, there is no possibility to demand more.
You can avoid getting undercut in your driver fatigue case by contacting an experienced auto accident lawyer in Boston as soon as possible. Your lawyer can help figure out how much money you can demand and fight to get all you deserve.