Eight-year-old Ronshay Dugans tragically lost her life in 2008 when a drowsy driver hit her school bus. The driver fell asleep at the wheel. To honor her memory and to teach the public about the dangers of driving drowsy, the Florida legislature named the first week in September Driving Drowsy Prevention Week.
Understanding key information about driving drowsy is the first step to identifying and preventing it. Here’s what you need to know from our Tampa car accident lawyers.
Despite awareness efforts, drowsy driving remains a problem for all drivers and passengers. In fact, more than 20 percent of drivers admit to doing it. The National Safety Council says that that driving after 20 hours without sleep is the same as driving with a blood alcohol content over the legal limit. The Center for Disease Control says that drowsy driving contributes to approximately 72,000 crashes each year. They say that these statistics are likely underreported.
Drowsy driving claims the lives of approximately 795 people each year according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It causes 71,000 more injuries. The problem of drowsy driving is widespread. It impacts the entire U.S. economy and interrupts the lives of thousands of people each year.
So why do people take to the wheel when they haven’t gotten enough sleep? What are your rights when you’re hurt in an accident because of drowsy driving? Here’s what you need to know.
Yes, driving while drowsy is illegal in all 50 states. If you drive drowsy, you may face charges of careless driving or reckless driving. In addition to a traffic ticket or criminal charges, you may face civil liability if your driving causes an accident. When drowsy driving causes serious injury or death, you may even face felony charges that carry the possibility of significant time in jail or prison.
No, you can’t be charged for driving while tired. However, if your fatigued driving leads you to make driving errors, you can be charged for those errors. For example, if your driving tired causes you to weave over the centerline, you may face charges for failing to maintain your lane. You could also face careless driving or reckless driving charges. If your driving causes an accident, you may be civilly liable because you drove negligently.
Although Florida doesn’t have a law that directly prohibits drowsy driving, there are a lot of traffic laws that may apply to tired and fatigued drivers. For example, if a driver fails to yield the right of way because they’re tired, they may receive a ticket for failure to yield. Drowsy driving makes a Florida driver more likely to violate Florida’s uniform traffic control laws. Traffic offenses range from civil fines to serious criminal matters.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has several recommendations to prevent falling asleep while driving:
When a drowsy driving accident hurts you, you have rights. You may have the right to claim compensation from the party who is responsible for the accident. Drowsy driving is an example of negligence. Negligence may be grounds for a personal injury action for compensation for the victim.
Victims of drowsy driving may have the right to financial compensation in Florida. Drowsy driving is a form of civil negligence. Careful drivers don’t take to the roads when they’re unreasonably tired. When someone chooses to drive when they’re fatigued or sleep-deprived, they’re negligent. That exposes them to legal liability when people get hurt as a result.
Florida uses a no-fault system for minor accidents. If you have only small injuries from your car accident, you collect compensation from your own insurer. However, when your injuries are serious or permanent, you may collect compensation from the party who is responsible for the accident.
To win a lawsuit for tired driving in Florida, you have to prove that the other driver caused the accident. It’s up to the victim to gather the evidence that the other driver drove tired. Often, proving negligence in the form of tired driving is related to establishing other traffic violations that make the driver responsible for the crash.
To win your case, you work thoroughly to build the supporting evidence. Witness testimony, document requests, depositions, medical records, and accident reconstruction can all play an essential part in winning your case. In addition to proving driving errors and drowsy driving, you must also show that the other driver’s tired driving is the cause of the accident and your injuries.
Have you been hurt by a drowsy driver? Are you wondering what your rights are after a drowsy driving accident? Let the car accident lawyers at Jack Bernstein, Injury Attorneys help you understand your rights and fight for you.
While you may receive compensation when you’re the victim of a driving drowsy accident, it’s up to you to take steps to receive payment. Our attorneys want to help you do everything that you need to do to win top dollar for your claim. We have experience representing accident victims throughout Florida. Call our Tampa driving drowsy accident attorneys today to begin your claim.