New Jersey Drowsy Driver Accident Attorneys
We live in a fast-paced, 24-hour society. The demands of work and our personal lives mixed with the new reality of constant connection lead to late nights and long hours. People want to fit everything in without missing a thing. Unfortunately, we often sacrifice sleep when we need it most.
This may sound unrelated to road safety, but it’s not. Fatigued and sleep-deprived people are hitting New Jersey roads, causing accidents, and depriving others of their health, safety, and sometimes their lives.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that there are close to 100,000 police-reported crashes involving drowsy drivers annually. These accidents resulted in 71,000 injures and 1,550 deaths. A study conducted by AAA estimates that the number may be closer to 328,000 annual drowsy driving crashes because it can be difficult to prove a driver was fatigued behind the wheel.
Every single day drowsy drivers get behind the wheel and put New Jersey drivers at significant risk. Many drivers don’t realize the very real danger they put themselves and others in when they make that choice. If you’ve been the victim of a drowsy driver crash, then you know the unfortunate truth.
At Brach Eichler Trial Lawyers, we know the devastation a drowsy driver can cause. We also know how to hold these drivers accountable for their negligent actions. We can help their victims get the compensation they need to pay their medical bills.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a drowsy driver, contact the team at Brach Eichler Trial Lawyers. You have legal rights and deserve compensation for your injuries.
Call Brach Eichler Trial Lawyers today at (973) 364-8300 to speak with a New Jersey drowsy driving attorney and review your legal options in a free consultation.
Common Causes of Drowsy Driving Accidents
A frightening fact that many people don’t realize is that drowsy driving is as dangerous as drunk driving. Why? Driving while drowsy has a similar impact on the way the body functions.
Studies have found that drivers’ reaction times are significantly impaired when they’re drowsy. In fact, driving after going more than 20 hours without sleep is the equivalent of driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent. In other words, a day without sound sleep will limit your driving abilities the same way exceeding the legal limit of alcohol consumption would.
Sleepy driving causes slower reaction times, reduced awareness of the surrounding environment, and difficulty processing and understanding information. These performance impairments mean that drowsy drivers are three times more likely to be involved in car collisions than well-rested, sober ones.
Some of the most common causes of drowsy driving include:
- Untreated sleep disorders
- Lack of sleep
- Shift work
Drivers Likely to be Involved in Drowsy Driving Accidents
Any New Jersey driver could fall victim to sleepy driving. Contemporary life is stressful and may prevent you from getting a full, restful night’s sleep. Worrying about work, school, relationships could keep you up. Staring at a glowing screen too long can affect a person’s natural sleep cycle and throw off their rhythm.
Experts recommend good “sleep hygiene” and encourage consistent, healthy nighttime routines. Good habits can help you stay awake and aware when you drive.
Unfortunately, there are certain segments of the population that are more prone to driving drowsy.
These drivers include:
- Shift workers
- Commercial truck drivers
- Business travelers
- Young drivers
- Drivers with untreated sleep disorders such as sleep apnea or insomnia
- Drivers who use medication that can make them drowsy
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration finds that most drowsy driving accidents happen between the hours of midnight and 6:00 a.m. or late in the afternoon. These are the times that people experience a drop in their circadian rhythm, which is the body’s internal sleep clock. Drowsy driving accidents often happen on rural roads and highways. Avoiding country roads late at night might be the difference between a safe trip and a serious accident.
Injuries Associated with New Jersey Drowsy Driving Accidents
Drowsy driving accidents are often serious because the drowsy driver is so impaired or flat out asleep that they don’t see or recognize any danger. The at-fault drivers are unaware of the impending accidents, so they tend to happen at high rates of speed. Investigators often find no evidence of the driver even attempting to stop or brake.
The National Safety Council and the National Sleep Foundation found that half of the adults surveyed in the U.S. have admitted to driving while drowsy. Forty percent of those surveyed admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel at least once.
This type of reckless and negligent behavior can result in serious accidents and even more serious injuries. Some of the injures that can result from a drowsy driver collision include:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Head, neck, or spinal injures
- Broken bones
- Soft tissue damage
- Internal bleeding
- Chest and rib injure
- Wrongful death
Warning Signs of Drowsy Driving
At some point or another, we all feel tired and have to drive home. The difference between mildly tired and downright drowsy can make all the difference in the world in that driver’s ability to operate their vehicle safely.
There are key warning signs to be aware of to avoid drowsy driving. Recognizing these warning signs could help prevent an accident.
Here’s what to look for:
- Yawning and blinking frequently
- Problems focusing
- Wandering thoughts
- Difficulty remembering the last few miles of the drive
- Missing an exit or turn
- Drifting out of a lane
- Hitting the rumble strip on the side of the road
- Rolling down the window, even when it’s cold out
- Needing to turn up the volume of the radio to stay focused
Why You Need an Experienced Drowsy Driving Accident Attorney
It’s crucial to secure an attorney early when you suspect that you’ve been hit and injured by a drowsy driver. Unfortunately, drowsy driving can sometimes be difficult to prove. An attorney experienced in handling tired driving cases will know what to look for and how to conduct a thorough investigation into the accident. Their resources and knowledge could be the difference between a low settlement and significant financial compensation.
The moment of the accident, the once sleepy driver will be wide awake and riding an adrenaline high. That can be a challenge when you try to hold the at-fault driver legally responsible for their behavior. Your attorney can help prove the facts of your crash despite the hurdles.
Some of the common characteristics of a drowsy driving accident include:
- The driver can’t remember what happened immediately before the crash.
- The driver failed to take any type of evasive action.
- The vehicle was drifting out of their lane.
- The driver crossed a double yellow line or drifted into oncoming traffic.
- The accident happened at a high rate of speed, or there was no sign that the driver attempted to slow down.
Your lawyer will not only be able to review the evidence surrounding the accident itself, but they’ll also be able to examine medical records to establish whether a sleep disorder affected the crash. They can gather the police report and eyewitnesses accounts, review any possible surveillance videos or in-cab recorders, and assemble other evidence to strengthen your injury claim.
New Jersey is one of the few states in the country with a drowsy driving law on the books. Introduced in 2002, Maggie’s Law classifies sleep-deprived drivers as reckless drivers. That means that a sleep-deprived driver can be convicted of vehicular homicide if they cause an accident that results in a victim’s death.
The law is named after college student Maggie McDonnell. She was killed in a car accident after a driver crossed three lanes of traffic and hit her car head-on in 1997. The driver admitted that he hadn’t slept in 30 hours and had also been using drugs.
During an appeal, the defense argued that the driver did nothing wrong because New Jersey had no law saying that falling asleep behind the wheel of a vehicle was against the law. The judge agreed with the defense’s argument. Even though McDonnell was killed, the driver was released with a suspended jail sentence and a $200.00 fine.
In reaction to the court’s decision, McDonnell’s mother lobbied lawmakers to create a law that would hold drowsy drivers accountable for their reckless actions. The result was Maggie’s Law.
Maggie’s Law defines fatigued driving as operating a vehicle after going without sleep for more than 24 consecutive hours. It makes driving while fatigued a criminal offense. A drowsy driver that causes the death of another person can be charged with vehicular homicide, which can be either a second- or first-degree offense.
Brach Eichler Trial Lawyers Can Help If You’ve Been Injured by a Drowsy Driver
If you or a loved one has been injured by a drowsy driver, you’re entitled to compensation for your injures. Driving while drowsy is negligent behavior that puts all New Jersey drivers at risk. Drivers who engage in this behavior should be held accountable for their actions, and the victims of these accidents should be fairly compensated.
The attorneys with Brach Eichler Trial Lawyers have the skills and resources it takes to handle the complexities of drowsy driving cases. Contact Brach Eichler Trial Lawyers at (973) 364-8300 to schedule a no-obligation consultation. Let us explain your rights under New Jersey law so that you can consider your legal options.