There are many ways for a person to be negligent while driving. From texting to eating while driving, most of these ways are fairly easy to recognize. Sometimes, however, negligent driving isn’t quite as obvious. One such example is that of what is known as “drowsy driving,” or driving while fatigued. Unlike accidents resulting from intoxication or distraction through cell phones, there is little visible evidence of a driver’s fatigue, since there is no test that gauges how fatigued a person is. Unfortunately, even a little bit of fatigue can be enough to put a person at an increased risk of an automobile accident. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2009 alone, there were approximately 72,000 automobile accidents that were caused by drowsy driving.
Signs of Drowsy Driving
While most people might think that the biggest hazard of drowsy driving is falling asleep behind the wheel, there are several other issues that can be caused by fatigue or drowsiness that can impair a driver’s ability to make safe choices. In fact, studies have shown that driving while fatigued can be as bad as, if not worse than, driving while intoxicated. Signs of drowsy driving include, but are not limited to:
- difficulty focusing on the road;
- loss of concentration;
- nodding off;
- trouble remembering the past few miles;
- missing exits or road signs;
- drifting from your lane; and,
- failing to recognize road hazards.
Drowsy Driving and Lawsuits
Even though drowsy driving presents a hazard to you, and those around you, the effects of drowsy driving can extend far beyond the initial accident. Not only could a drowsy driver be responsible for his own injuries sustained in an auto accident, but he could also be precluded from recovering anything in court if he was found to be more negligent than the opposing party. This is because South Carolina is one of many states that follow a comparative negligence standard of fault. This means that a driver’s recovery in court will be restricted by his own percentage of negligence, as long as that negligence does not outweigh the negligence of the opposing party. For example, if a court were to find that a plaintiff was 45% responsible for the accident due to his negligence, any damages he would receive through the court would be reduced by 45%. On the other hand, if the plaintiff were to be found responsible in any amount greater than 50%, the court would then deny all damages that may be owed to the plaintiff.
While it might be harder to prove that a person was driving while fatigued, it is not impossible.
Contact an Attorney
While you can take measures to prevent yourself from driving drowsy, you cannot account for the actions of everyone on the road. If you or someone you love has been injured by drowsy driving, you need the assistance of an experienced attorney. If you are looking for a skilled legal professional in South Carolina, contact the David Aylor Law Offices for a free case evaluation.