Drowsiness at the wheel is mostly caused by drug abuse and lack of enough sleep. According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about a third of U.S drivers do not meet the recommended daily minimum hours of sleep, which is seven hours. A drowsy driver poses a great threat to other road users; a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report estimates that drowsy driving caused about 90,000 car crashes and 800 fatalities in 2015. The same report, which relied on information from police and hospital records, indicates that drowsy driving claimed 795 lives in 2017.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety also conducted a survey to determine the prevalence of drowsy driving in the US. The study reveals that the number of crashes involving drowsy drivers is way higher than the NHTSA’s estimates; the foundation estimates that drowsy driving responsible for 8.8-9.5 percent of the annual car crashes in the U.S. Further, the report indicates that about 10.8 percent of car crashes that result in severe injuries and property damage involve drowsy driving.
Drowsy driving personal injury claims
If you are injured in a car accident involving a drowsy driver, you are entitled to personal injury compensation to cater for expenses like medical bills and lost wages. The process of claiming personal injury compensation varies from state to state. It’s, therefore, important to contact a car accident attorney after the accident to guide you on the process of documenting evidence and filing the compensation claim.
Depending on the state where the accident happened, you can file a compensation claim with either your insurer or the drowsy driver’s insurer. States such as Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, and New York follow no-fault auto insurance laws. In these states, the victim driver claims compensation from their insurer, rather than the at-fault driver’s insurer. No-fault insurance laws require insurers to include personal injury coverage in auto insurance policies.
You can file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver’s insurer if the state where the accident happened doesn’t follow no-fault insurance laws. You can also file the claim if your insurance company doesn’t compensate you for all the damages you suffered. Obtaining personal injury compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurer is not a straightforward process; you have to defend your claim. For example, you have to prove that the driver has a duty of care that they neglected by driving while drowsy. Also, you have to prove that the driver’s mistakes caused the accident, and the accident caused your injuries. You’ll find the process easier if you have an experienced car accident attorney by your side.
Personal injury lawsuits
Insurance settlements have limits, and they may not give you the compensation you deserve. For example, most insurance companies do not give emotional injury compensation to car accident victims. The negligent driver is responsible for the personal injuries suffered in a car accident; you can, therefore, file a personal injury lawsuit against them if the insurance compensation falls short of what you expect.
Before filing a personal injury lawsuit, your attorney can try to strike an out-of-court settlement with the at-fault driver. Out-of-court arrangements are preferred to trials because they save time and resources. If you cannot settle the matter out of court, the only option remaining is filing a car accident compensation lawsuit.
Your personal injury attorney will prepare documents to show the circumstances surrounding the accident, the damages you have suffered as a result of the car accident, and the compensation you seek to recover from the at-fault driver. The attorney must prove that the other driver was negligent due to drowsy driving and that their negligence caused personal injuries. The defendant will either deny the charges or try to reduce the compensation owed.
In most states, the personal injury attorney will have to satisfy the following elements to prove that the victim deserves compensation.
Duty of care: Drivers owe other road users duty of care: They are expected to follow traffic rules and drive safely
Breach of duty of care: Your attorney should prove that the drowsy driver neglected their duty of care by violating traffic rules or driving dangerously
Causation: The attorney should show that the injuries for which you are claiming compensation were caused by the drowsy driver’s breach of duty of care
Damages: You should be able to explain to the jury how you arrived at the compensation amount you are claiming. This means giving monetary value to the injuries you suffered.
Personal Injury Compensation determination
The personal injury compensation the plaintiff gets is proportional to the defendant’s percentage of fault. Liability in a car accident is split between the defendant and the plaintiff; this means they at-fault driver can reduce the compensation they owe you by proving you were also responsible for the car accident. Methods of determining the amount of compensation the plaintiff can recover from the at-fault driver vary from state to state; they can be classified as follows
Pure comparative negligence: The plaintiff can obtain personal injury compensation from the defendant even when the defendant’s fault is less than 50 percent.
Modified comparative negligence: The plaintiff can only be compensated if their responsibility for the car accident does not exceed a percentage set by the law, mostly 50 percent.
Contributory negligence: The plaintiff can only be compensated if their fault for the accident was zero. This means the defendant will not pay anything if they show the court that the plaintiff was also responsible for the accident.
Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney can increase the compensation you receive
Little details, from what you do at the accident scene to how you argue out the case in court, can affect the outcome of a car accident compensation lawsuit in a big way. The defendant’s side will attempt to poke holes into the evidence you’ll present, so you should seek the assistance of a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the accident to help you document the evidence. The attorney will also evaluate whether you have a valid claim and represent you in court.
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