Asleep at the Wheel Accidents
Most of us have had that feeling, that moment where we think we might doze off behind the wheel of a car. It is what we do once we reach that point that could make a difference in someone else’s life.
An average car weighs over four thousand pounds, and a loaded tractor-trailer weighs several tons. Both are capable of causing catastrophic injuries or even death in the event of an accident. Motor vehicle operators are required to follow a certain standard of care when operating a vehicle.
Alpharetta truck and auto accident lawyer Casey W. Stevens has over 25 years of experience helping the injured across North Georgia, including those who have been injured in drowsy driving-related accidents. Contact us today for a free consultation from an award-winning personal injury attorney.The Drowsy Driving Problem
Drowsy driving is a major problem everywhere in the U.S., but especially on interstates where people are more likely to drive long distances without adequate sleep. Atlanta is home to many major interstates, including I-85, I-75, I-285, and I-20 and State Highways including Georgia 400. Falling asleep at the wheel sometimes happens merely because the driver has not slept enough, but it can also happen for other reasons. Just the monotony of driving can cause someone to nod out while behind the wheel. Drinking alcohol or taking medications are also causes. Even health or sleep disorders can contribute. The risk, danger, and often tragic results of completely falling asleep at the wheel are alarming. But just being drowsy (and not falling asleep) can contribute to accidents as well, as it decreases drivers’ ability to pay attention to the road, and decreases their reactionary time.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, nearly 50% of U.S. adult drivers have admitted to consistently getting behind the wheel while feeling tired. Nearly 20% admit to falling asleep behind the wheel at some point within a year’s time. Over 40% admitted this has happened at least once in their driving careers.Drowsy Driving Causes Catastrophic Accidents
According to a Governor’s Highway Safety Association report, an estimated five thousand people died in drowsy driving crashes in 2015. The drivers most likely to cause those accidents are those who work long shifts, ones who are on medications, ones with sleep apnea or other health conditions, and commercial drivers who operate tractor-trailers and buses.Proving Negligence in an Asleep at the Wheel Accident
According to Georgia Code, Title 51, proving negligence is imperative to obtaining fair compensation in most personal injury cases. Proving the drowsy driver failed to exercise a certain degree of care is the job of a top personal injury lawyer. In this case, if the other driver left the roadway because they fell asleep at the wheel, they could be held liable for negligence. However, if the other driver was at fault because they illegally left their lane, it does not require proof they left their lane because they fell asleep. If, however, the other driver can prove they left their lane because of a situation beyond their control, like a medical emergency, then negligence would be difficult to prove. The State of Georgia recognizes the “sudden medical emergency defense”, which states a person who suffers a sudden medical emergency has not acted negligently because the accident was caused by something that was beyond their control, and which they couldn't have foreseen. Some vehicle drivers have attempted to claim that falling asleep at the wheel was a “medical emergency” and something they could not have foreseen.Signs of Drowsy Driving
Let’s face it, we all know when we are drowsy, but none of us can really predict when we will cross over into actually “being” asleep. Know the signs:
- Zoning Out
- Closing Your Eyes and Not Knowing How Long They were Closed
- Difficulty Identifying Where You Are
- Drifting Out of Your Lane
If you have any of these warning signs, pull over to rest or change drivers.Consult an Award-Winning Alpharetta Personal Injury Attorney to Discuss Your Options
The Personal Injury Law Office of Casey W. Stevens represents victims of trucking and car accident lawsuits throughout North Georgia. We have five convenient office locations, or we’ll come to you!
Office locations: Alpharetta/Roswell, Atlanta, Canton, Woodstock, Dawsonville, Suwanee. Serving these counties: Fulton, Forsyth, Hall, Gwinnett, Dawson, Fayette, Coweta, Spalding, Douglas, Gilmer, Cherokee, Dekalb, Borrow, Bartow, Newton, and Walton.