Fatigued (Drowsy) Driving Car Accidents Attorneys in Queens, NY
Have you been hit and injured by a drowsy driver in New York? Driver fatigue is a frequent cause of accidents. A lot of drivers think they can shake off the effects of fatigue. But it’s dangerous for a driver to get behind the wheel if not adequately rested.
No matter what a person might do to try to stay awake, whether by drinking coffee, turning on the radio, or rolling down the window, fatigue can significantly impair a driver’s judgment and reflexes. When a driver is not alert and ready to react to potential traffic hazards, severe accidents can occur.
If you have been injured in a car accident in New York, you will initially turn to your Personal Injury Protection insurance policy to cover your medical bills and accident-related expenses. Your Personal Injury Protection policy provides coverage for you and your passengers regardless of whether you or another driver caused the crash.
If your injuries are serious and your medical expenses exceed the limits of your no-fault insurance, you may be eligible to file a claim and pursue compensation from the driver who caused the fatigued driving accident. The Tadchiev Law Firm can help you seek full compensation for your losses. Our Queens car accident lawyers have extensive experience helping people navigate New York’s complicated personal injury claims process and seek the money needed to recover financially after a serious crash. We do not charge a legal fee unless we secure compensation for you. To learn more about how we may assist you, contact our office for a free initial consultation.
What Is Driver Fatigue?
A fatigued driver has a sleep deficit so severe that it affects their ability to handle a car safely. No matter how drowsy a driver may feel, going without adequate sleep can cause a sharp drop in driving performance. The negative effects can set in more quickly than you might think.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, research suggests that after being awake for 18 hours, the effects of fatigue on coordination, reaction times, and multi-tasking ability are roughly equivalent to driving with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.05 percent. If you have been awake for 20 hours, the impairing effects of fatigue are about the same as if you were driving while legally intoxicated.
Workers who work overnight shifts when most people are asleep and those who work alternating day and night shifts are more susceptible to being involved in fatigued driving accidents.
A lack of sleep is not the only cause of driver fatigue. Consuming alcohol or certain drugs can also increase drowsiness. Alcohol is a depressant. Drinking alcohol before getting behind the wheel can cause you to fall asleep.
Certain prescription and over-the-counter medications also cause drowsiness. Drowsiness is a common side effect of certain painkillers, allergy medications, and other drugs. Be sure to read the warning labels on your medications before taking them if you are planning to drive.
Drowsy Driving Accidents in New York City
Drowsy driving accidents are a significant problem in New York City. Information from the New York Police Department shows that in just one month, there were 50 accidents causing an injury or death in which drowsy driving or loss of consciousness was listed as a contributing factor. That averages out to approximately 600 injury accidents citywide every year involving drowsy driving.
A driver struggling to stay awake might fail to notice a stop sign or traffic light, leading the driver to continue through an intersection and collide with another vehicle. A driver experiencing severe fatigue might be slow to recognize that a car ahead has braked, resulting in a rear-end collision.
A driver who falls asleep at the wheel might drift into an oncoming lane of traffic or drive off the road and strike a pedestrian or cyclist. The force of impact may be much greater if the fatigued driver nodded off and made no attempt to brake or take evasive maneuvers. The harm caused by a fatigued driver can be extremely serious.
If a drowsy driver in New York has caused you to sustain serious injuries, you may be able to seek compensation for your medical bills and financial losses from the driver’s auto liability insurance. Before you can do so, you’ll have to work through the state’s no-fault insurance system.
Under New York’s no-fault insurance system, all drivers are required to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage as part of their auto insurance policy. PIP insurance provides coverage of your injuries, regardless of who was at fault for an accident. Your PIP policy will cover up to $50,000 per person in medical bills, economic losses, and some other expenses related to your injuries. If you have been involved in a drowsy driving accident, you should have these benefits to help cover some of your losses.
Car accidents involving serious injuries may exceed the limits of PIP coverage. In that case, you may pursue compensation from the at-fault driver.
You will have to show that you have incurred more than $50,000 in lost wages and medical expenses, or that your injuries meet the serious injury threshold set forth in state law.
In New York, serious injuries include things like:
- Broken bones/fractures
- Dismembered limbs
- Bodily or facial disfigurement
- The permanent loss of use of a bodily organ or limb
- Any injury that blocks you from performing typical daily activities
If you meet New York’s definition of a serious injury, you may have a right to file an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver’s insurance. To recover compensation, you will need to prove the driver was negligent and caused your injuries.
In legal terms, someone is considered negligent if they failed to take reasonable steps to avoid injuring you. Drowsy driving can be a type of negligence. Drivers should know better than to get behind the wheel when they are severely fatigued.
To show a driver was drowsy at the time of an accident, you can use evidence such as:
- Police accident reports
- The other driver’s medical records
- Photos and other evidence from the scene of the crash
- Testimony from expert witnesses
- Footage from traffic cameras or other surveillance systems
You’ll want the help of an experienced drowsy driving accident lawyer to gather evidence and develop your claim. The experienced personal injury attorneys at the Tadchiev Law Firm understand the types of evidence needed to prove another driver was negligent and financially liable for your injuries.
The Dangers of Drowsy Driving
The dangers of driving while fatigued include:
- Slower reaction times — The more fatigued you are, the slower your reactions are. This makes it harder to respond to sudden hazards that may appear.
- Impaired judgment — Severe fatigue makes it harder for drivers to think clearly and make quick judgments. For example, a fatigued driver might underestimate the distance between their car and another car in front of them, leading to a rear-end collision.
- Increased irritability and stress — Fatigue affects a driver’s mood and stress level. Drivers who are fatigued are more prone to stress and feelings of irritability, which can cause them to react poorly around other drivers.
- Microsleep — One of the most dangerous side effects of driver fatigue is the risk of nodding off at the wheel. A driver who is having trouble keeping their eyes open is susceptible to falling asleep for a few seconds at a time. A few seconds is all it takes for drivers to drift out of their lane and collide with another vehicle.
- Falling asleep — The most dangerous thing that can happen to a fatigued driver is to fall asleep at the wheel. If this happens, it’s highly likely a driver will leave their lane and collide with another car, a pedestrian, or a stationary object. The lack of braking or swerving before the collision can lead to devastating results.
How to Avoid Fatigued Driving
Some tips to avoid driving while fatigued include:
- Make sure you get adequate sleep every night. While on a long road trip, schedule a breaks every couple of hours to stretch your legs and rest.
- Caffeine, loud music, and driving with the window open are no substitutes for sleep. In fact, drinking caffeine can actually make fatigue worse once the effects wear off. If you are struggling to stay awake, it’s critical to get off the road and find a safe place to take a nap.
- Be sure to read all the warning labels for any prescription medications you’re taking to see if drowsiness is a side effect.
- If you are severely fatigued and need to get somewhere, ask a friend or family member to drive you, seek other transportation options, or postpone your drive.
Contact an Experienced Queens Drowsy Driving Attorney
If you have been injured in a car accident caused by a drowsy driver in Queens, the Tadchiev Law Firm can help you seek the best possible outcome as you recover from your injuries. Contact our office in Queens today to speak with a New York fatigued driving accident attorney.