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Do You Need a Lawyer After a Car Accident?

It can take weeks or even months to understand the full impact of your car accident. Lost wages, car repairs, and medical bills start to pile up — along with additional expenses you couldn’t have planned for. Having a lawyer by your side will ensure that these longer-term costs are taken into consideration when fighting for a fair insurance payout.

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Accidents Caused by Drowsy Driving

When a driver is fatigued, they may not react appropriately on the road. Drowsy drivers often exhibit a slow reaction time behind the wheel. They may speed without realizing it, behave erratically, or make no effort to brake or avoid an accident. These drivers often appear to “zone out” while driving and fail to recognize changes in traffic patterns, stop signs, or pedestrians or bicyclists on the road. Some even fall asleep behind the wheel, which can cause their vehicle to drift into oncoming traffic or off of the road completely.

Even one night of sleep loss or poor sleep can put you at risk for drowsy driving. However, some people have a higher risk of drowsy driving due to their lifestyle or medical conditions. Risk factors for drowsy driving include:

  • Not sleeping enough
  • Untreated sleep disorders
  • Shift workers
  • Medication side-effects
  • Working too hard
  • Drinking or drugs

Who is Most Impacted by Drowsy Driving?

Anyone who fails to get a good night’s sleep is at risk for drowsy driving. However, according to the NHTSA, some occupations and lifestyles may increase the risk of drowsy or fatigued driving. Some of those include:

  • New parents. Babies do not often sleep through the night. New parents lose hours of sleep feeding and comforting their newborns. When they work the next day, they can hit the road already exhausted. This can lead to serious and deadly car crashes.
  • Shift workers. Employees who spend the majority of the night at work are also at risk for drowsy driving. Shift workers include hotel and bar workers, nurses and medical professionals, and truck drivers.
  • Young drivers. Young drivers between the ages of 16 and 29 are at an increased risk of getting into serious accidents due to drowsy driving. Teens and young adults may stay out late, attending parties, going to bars, and hanging out with friends. Driving home after a late night out can increase the risk of driving off the road or into oncoming traffic.

How Does Sleep Deprivation Impact Your Driving?

Sleep deprivation can negatively impact your ability to drive. Studies have shown that drivers who are sleep deprived are more likely to be involved in car accidents than those who are well-rested.

Sleep deprivation can make it difficult to focus on the road and the changes in traffic. It can also result in slower reaction times and poor decisions.

Our reaction time is the amount of time it takes us to respond to a stimulus. It is affected by many factors, including how well-rested we are.

Sleep deprivation has been shown to slow reaction times significantly, which can be the difference between life and death in some situations.

For example, if you’re driving and someone cuts you off in traffic, your slowed reaction time could mean that you don’t have enough time to brake before hitting them.

Why does sleep deprivation slow reaction times? According to the Sleep Foundation, when we do not get enough sleep and try to drive, our body experiences competing needs: the need to sleep, the need to stay awake, and the need to perform tasks, such as driving. This leads to cognitive impairment and a slower reaction time.

Drowsy Driving vs. Drunk Driving

According to the American Sleep Foundation, half of all adult drivers in the United States admit to consistently driving while feeling drowsy. Even worse, more than 40% admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel at least once in their lives, and 20% admitted to falling asleep while driving this past year alone.

The dangers of drowsy driving are considerable. In fact, driving while drowsy is similar to driving drunk. When a driver is tired, their ability to remain attentive, their reaction time, and their awareness of hazards on the road all worsen—just like when they’ve been drinking.

Alcohol, even in small amounts, can exacerbate the symptoms of fatigue. A study from the UCLA Sleep Disorders Center discovered that when drivers only slept for four hours, a single beer had the same effect as six beers. Reports have indicated that a driver who has gone more than 20 hours without sleep is the equivalent of driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08%. In other words, drowsy drivers may be just as dangerous as drunk drivers.

Even though drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving, there are no laws in place that make it illegal to drive while fatigued. There are no police campaigns or checkpoints. When a drunk driver is involved in an accident, they’re immediately arrested and charged with DUI. They may face jail time, hefty fines, and the loss of their driver’s license.

In comparison, when a drowsy driver causes an accident, there is often little police officers can do except to file a police report. It is up to the injured accident victim and their attorney to determine if the driver was indeed driving while feeling drowsy.

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How are Drowsy Drivers Caught?

Drowsy drivers are not often caught until they’ve caused an accident. When an accident occurs, no test can accurately determine if a driver was driving fatigued at the time of the crash. Instead, catching a drowsy driver involves an intense investigation.

It starts by calling 911 about your accident. Calling 911 alerts the police and medical teams to your crash site. When the police arrive, they will begin investigating your crash to determine what happened.

They will start by talking to both drivers to get their side of the story. In some cases, the driver may admit to being tired or falling asleep behind the wheel. However, even when they don’t, their statements may offer clues as to what caused the crash. A simple statement, such as “I don’t remember” or “I can’t remember the last couple of minutes before the crash,” could indicate that the driver was guilty of drowsy driving.

The police may not indicate that the other driver fell asleep behind the wheel or was drowsy driving. However, what they put in the police report can give your drowsy driving accident lawyer some valuable clues.

Ways to Prevent Drowsy Driving

Drowsy drivers are dangerous drivers. If you want to avoid being one of them, here are some helpful tips to prevent drowsy driving.

Most people need at least seven hours of sleep per night.

These are times when your body is naturally more tired.

If you’re going on a long road trip, make sure to plan for regular rest stops. Traveling with another driver is also a good idea so you can switch off behind the wheel.

Alcohol may make you feel more awake but it actually impairs your judgment and reaction time.

If you’re taking a medication that makes you tired, ask your doctor if it’s safe to drive.

If you’re feeling sleepy behind the wheel, pull over and take a nap or drink some coffee. It’s also important to pay attention to how you’re feeling overall. If you’re constantly tired or find it hard to concentrate, see your doctor to rule out any underlying health problems.

How to Prove a Drowsy Driving Accident Case

Proving a drowsy driving accident case is similar to proving any type of car accident case. The first thing you must establish is fault. Since Arkansas is an at-fault state, this means that the driver responsible for the accident is also responsible for the damages.

From the moment you are injured, your drowsy driving accident lawyer will begin investigating your accident and the moments leading up to the crash. This is done to establish liability.

Your attorney will speak to eyewitnesses during the investigation to get their testimony. Eyewitness information can begin to shed light on whether the driver was driving fatigued at the time of the crash.

Some of the signs of drowsy driving that eyewitnesses may have noticed include:

  • Driver yawning or nodding off
  • Driving too closely to nearby cars
  • Swerving or drifting into other lanes
  • Veering onto the rumble strips on the shoulder
  • Slowing down or speeding up erratically

In addition to eyewitness testimony, your drowsy driving accident lawyer may ask to review the driver’s prescription medications and medical history. Many prescriptions and over-the-counter medications can cause drowsiness and have very clear warning labels.

Your lawyer may also examine any video surveillance footage that was captured, as well as the police report.

A thorough investigation into your accident is the best way to prove that a drowsy driver caused your car accident.

Why Hire a Drowsy Driving Accident Attorney

When you’ve been in a drowsy driving accident, it can be difficult to know what to do next. You may feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to turn. One of the best decisions you can make is to hire a car accident lawyer to represent you.

A car accident lawyer will help you navigate the legal process and protect your rights. They will also work to get you the compensation you deserve for your injuries and damages.

You need someone on your side who understands the law. At Rainwater, Holt & Sexton, our Arkansas car accident attorneys thoroughly understand the laws that apply to your case. We know how to build a strong legal argument on your behalf.

The legal system is complex, and insurance companies are often eager to pressure accident victims into signing a quick and easy settlement. A drowsy driving car accident attorney can ensure that you get the compensation you deserve after a drowsy driver injures you.

At Rainwater, Holt & Sexton, we can help you avoid making mistakes that could jeopardize your case.

We’re There When You Need Us

Drowsy drivers are dangerous drivers. They can cause extreme injuries and even fatalities in the blink of an eye.

When you’ve been injured in a car accident by a drowsy driver, it is important to know that you are not alone. You need an experienced and skilled car accident law firm on your side with the resources needed to tackle these complex cases. With nine offices in Arkansas and Tennessee – Little Rock, Little Rock-Corporate Hill, Springdale, Conway, Hot Springs, Bryant, Jacksonville, Jonesboro, and Memphis – our car accident attorneys fight aggressively for your future and will negotiate with the auto insurance companies on your behalf every step of the way.

We’re here to help.

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