What are the legal implications of driving while fatigued?

It may be considered ‘gross negligence’ if you cause a car accident due to falling asleep while driving, especially if you were acting negligently and with no regard for others’ safety on the road.  At some point in our lives, we might fall asleep while driving due to a lack of sleep. But few of us understand the legal implications of doing this. Aside from the obvious, according to research, sleepiness or fatigue impairs our driving ability – just as much as intoxication! This means that fatigued drivers can be just as dangerous as drunk drivers. Fatigued drivers can fall asleep at the wheel and cause major car accidents.

Here’s everything you need to know about personal injury claims and drowsy drivers.

Who Is Liable?

In the case of drunk drivers, it’s clear that the negligent driver should face criminal and civil legal liability for causing a car accident. On the other hand, holding a fatigued driver legally and financially accountable might seem a bit odd – at first. 

As human beings, we all have the responsibility to avoid engaging in dangerous conduct that can cause harm to others. Driving while fatigued or drowsy is a dangerous act. As a result, if you cause an accident or any injuries while driving fatigued, you’ll likely face legal liability, possibly both civilly and criminally.

Gross Negligence

Certain negligent acts are considered worse than others. As a result, the law classifies incredibly ‘reckless’ behavior as gross negligence. 

Someone who drives home after working a 16-hour shift might face negligence charges. However, they didn’t purposefully want to cause harm to others. Hence, it is not considered an intentional act. On the other hand, if you notice that you’ve been falling asleep several times while driving and continue doing so, this could constitute gross negligence. Additionally, if you decide to take a drive on a busy highway after not sleeping for more than 24 hours just to see how you perform, this can be considered gross negligence. 

Moreover, unintentionally dangerous conduct can also be considered gross negligence if a reasonable person would realize that their actions would harm others. 

Can You File A Personal Injury Claim?

If you’ve been injured or your car has been damaged by a car accident caused by a fatigued driver, you can file for a personal injury claim. Doing so can help you cover hospital fees and car repairs, not to mention future damages. 

But the catch is that you need to prove that the driver fell asleep and caused the accident. You will need to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the fatigued driver owed you a duty of care and that they breached that duty of care. Additionally, you’ll need to prove that their actions led to the damages. 

It’s obviously challenging to prove that a driver fell asleep at the wheel, but in some cases, drivers do admit it to the police.

Who To Contact First 

If you’ve been in a serious car accident, you need to call the police to the scene if able to. The police can reach out to Fire Rescue for any immediate emergent medical care you may need and they might also be able to find out if the driver fell asleep at the wheel and caused the car accident. If there are multiple causes of the car accident, you can also recover damages from each responsible party. Fortunately, you can contact an experienced attorney to help you figure out if you should file a claim or not and what you’ll recover from the claim.

If you want to take legal action, visit the Sokoloff & Weinstein website. We’re a personal injury law firm with offices in West Palm Beach & Vero Beach, FL.

Call or email Sokoloff & Weinstein today to work with our expert car crash lawyers!