Auto Accidents Caused by Fatigued Drivers
Many motorists worry about intoxicated drivers and the havoc they can wreak on the highways. But there is another road hazard out there too – driver fatigue. If you suffer injuries, damages, or other losses due to the negligence of fatigued motorists who fall asleep while driving, a Mississippi car accident lawyer can offer you guidance and support.
The longer drivers go without sleep, the more danger they present to themselves and others who share the roads and highways with them. For instance, a driver who has been awake longer than 20 hours faces the same accident risks as a legally drunk driver with a .08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
Drowsy drivers have three times the risk of getting into a collision than well-rested motorists. This is because when someone goes without sleep, their reaction time is delayed. It takes longer to become aware of hazards and take evasive actions to avoid them. Drowsy drivers also struggle to maintain their focus on the road ahead and the task at hand – safely maneuvering a 5,000 lb. vehicle to its destination.
When drivers are hurtling down the highway at a speed of 70 mph, disaster can come at them in many forms in an instant. Alert drivers with hands on the wheel, eyes on the road, and minds on the task of driving can often appropriately respond in time to avert disaster.
But unrested drivers typically don’t realize all the signs of their fatigue. They can even have episodes of “micro sleeping” lasting up to five seconds. In those brief periods of involuntary inattention, motorists can drive more than 300 feet, roughly equivalent to a football field, completely unaware of their surroundings. The damage they can cause is incalculable.
Falling Asleep While Driving
No driver intentionally sets out to fall asleep behind the wheel. A sense of urgency to get to their destination, pressure from supervisors or logistical support to meet trucking deadlines, and any number of other circumstances can cause drivers to push on through and skip resting.
However, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), under-30 motorists were responsible for nearly two-thirds of auto accidents involving fatigued drivers. This over-representation contrasts with that group, as it only comprises a quarter of all licensed motorists.
Signs of driver fatigue:
- Not remembering traveling the last few miles
- Missing exits and turns
- Eyes involuntarily closing
- Crossing the median
- Not maintaining a steady speed
If you experience any of the above, pull over to a safe space, e.g., a monitored rest area, and get some sleep before a highway disaster occurs.
Injuries in Fatigued Driving
Because these crashes can occur at high speeds, the victims’ injuries can be catastrophic. Traumatic brain injuries, facial trauma, amputations, burns, and other life-altering injuries can result from drowsy driving accidents. Unfortunately, wrongful death cases can also arise from these horrific collisions.
Damages and Compensation
Most people are ill-equipped at this most vulnerable post-accident time to deal with the legalities associated with a drowsy driving collision. After all, your priority must be your health and healing as much as possible after your car accident.
The person who caused your injuries and damages must be held accountable for their actions. The auto accident laws in MS provide both criminal and civil penalties for accidents caused by drivers who were too fatigued to be behind the wheel.
Prosecutors handle the criminal aspects and consequences. But plaintiffs can seek a path to civil justice by seeking driver fatigue punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages and pain and suffering.
You must prove a defendant acted either with malice or gross negligence when their actions caused your injuries. Drowsy driving, like impaired driving, is grounds to seek punitive damages for the defendant’s gross negligence.
Unfortunately for plaintiffs, Mississippi caps the amount they can recover in punitive damages. The caps are on a sliding scale based on the defendant’s net worth.
It can be hard to know what monetary award to seek if you don’t know the true value of your case. At Blackmon & Blackmon PLLC, their knowledgeable and seasoned attorneys can pursue a settlement figure that accurately reflects your true losses and damages.