You could normally be one of the safest drivers on the road, but putting in long hours behind the wheel after waiting until the last minute to leave your vacation spot or driving at night while the kids are asleep in the back seat could cause your eyelids to become heavy. Before you know it, you’ve veered out of your lane and caused an accident.
According to a AAA survey, more than one-quarter of drivers admitted they had driven while they were “so sleepy that [they] had a hard time keeping [their] eyes open.” In the eyes of the law, that’s negligence.
Just as you would be liable for any losses your drowsiness caused, if you were the victim of an accident caused by another driver’s falling asleep behind the wheel, you can look to that driver and his insurer for compensation for the physical, emotional and financial losses you incurred due to his drowsy driving. The Indiana car accident lawyers of McNeely Stephenson Thopy & Harrold have been successfully litigating personal injury cases since 1981. Call Mike Stephenson at 855-206-2555 if you or your loved one was the victim of a drowsy driver.
Drowsy Drivers in Indiana
Drowsy driving causes more than 100,000 crashes a year, resulting in 40,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). And those statistics represent only the drivers whose fatigue actually lead to a reported accident – not near-misses or situations where only the drowsy driver’s vehicle was damaged and he or she chose not to report it.
These are just a few of the recent accidents on Indiana highways that occurred because a driver nodded off while at the wheel:
- On May 17, 2013, four people were injured in Greenfield, Indiana, east of Indianapolis, when a driver fell asleep at the wheel and veered off the road. His vehicle hit a sheriff’s cruiser which had stopped to offer assistance to a driver whose truck had broken down. All four people involved were hospitalized.
- Early on September 14, 2014, a driver driving straight through from Yellowstone National Park crashed in Lake County, Indiana. The vehicle left the road, crashing into a ditch and narrowly missing a light pole. His passenger was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
- On December 5, 2013, the driver of an SUV fell asleep and crashed head-on into a van hauling a trailer in Noble County, Indiana. The driver of the SUV was transported by helicopter to the hospital.
The Toll of Drowsy Driving in Indiana
Research cited by the National Sleep Foundation estimates the cost of automobile accidents attributed to sleepiness to be between $29.2 and $37.9 billion annually. This was calculated by examining the anticipated earnings over a lifetime by those who were killed or disabled by an accident caused by a sleepy driver.
There are other costs as well, of course – costs which are harder to measure in dollars and cents. Pain and suffering. Loss of companionship. Adjustments in lifestyle. Stress on family members. Compensation for all of these costs can be sought by an experienced drowsy driving lawyer like Mike Stephenson.
Causes of Fatigued Driving
A driver may become drowsy for many reasons, including these:
- Driving for an extended period of time without adequate breaks
- Driving after night-shift work.
- Taking medications which have sedative side effects
- Alcohol or drug use
- Driving on boring, monotonous stretches of road.
In addition, older drivers are vulnerable to sleepiness in the mid-afternoon.
What To Do If You Become Drowsy While Driving
Science tells us that sleep does not occur spontaneously, without warning. Even though a driver may not remember falling asleep, he or she probably will remember trying to fight off sleep before the accident. If you are driving and find you are struggling to stay awake, the most effective counter-measure is to stop driving and take a 30-minute break with a short nap and/or a caffeinated beverage. Some people like to talk a walk around a parking lot, but research shows this is not effective. Things like playing the radio or a CD or opening the window are useful, but only for short periods of time.
What To Do If You Are Injured by a Drowsy Driver
When others breach their duty, we keep ours. That’s why when you or your loved one has been harmed by a driver whose negligence caused him to fall asleep at the wheel, you should call McNeely Stephenson. Our diligence and dedication enable us to provide aggressive representation both in the courtroom and in settlement negotiations. You can read about some of our successful results for previous clients here.
Call our Indiana Accident Attorneys at 1-855-206-2555, or use our convenient on-line contact form.