South Carolina Drowsy Driving Accident Lawyers
Drowsy driving is a deadly form of impaired driving. Like drunk drivers, sleepy motorists are a threat to everyone’s safety. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), fatigued drivers are twice as likely to make errors behind the wheel than those who are not sleepy. Nearly 800 people were killed in drowsy driving accidents in a recent year, and officials suspect that number is vastly underreported.
Anyone who is hurt or killed in a crash involving a fatigued driver can seek compensation for their injuries and other losses in South Carolina. Talk to an experienced drowsy driving accident lawyer at Wilson Law Group, LLC, today to learn your legal options.
It’s easy and free to get started. Contact us today for a consultation. There’s no obligation, so you have nothing to lose.
The Dangers of Drowsy Driving
A recent study shows that drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving. According to the National Sleep Foundation, driving after being awake for 24 hours is comparable to driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.10 percent. That’s far higher than the South Carolina BAC limit of 0.08 percent.
Being overtired has similar effects as alcohol on the body. Drowsy drivers have slower reflexes, reduced awareness of their surroundings, and trouble concentrating, which can cause them to lose control of their vehicles. Even when fatigued drivers manage to stay awake, their judgment is also impaired. Tired drivers may make mistakes when changing lanes, merging into traffic, or making turns that they wouldn’t make on a normal basis.
It’s easy to get tired behind the wheel, especially on long trips. But all motorists are still responsible for driving in a reasonable manner that keeps others safe. Those that drive while drowsy can be held liable if they fall asleep behind the wheel and cause a crash.
What Causes Drowsy Driving?
Many people are quite alert when they start driving, but get drowsy over the course of their travel. There are several reasons for this, including:
- Nighttime driving: Most drowsy driving accidents happen between the hours of midnight and 8:00 a.m. The body’s natural rhythms make people sleepy at night, which means they’re at an increased risk of drowsy driving when it’s dark.
Driving alone: Motorists who are alone can fall victim to the lull of the road. With no one to talk to, it’s easy to get bored and sleepy.
- Drinking and driving: Alcohol is a depressant, which impairs a person’s physical and psychological faculties. Even if a driver isn’t drunk, consuming even a small amount of alcohol can lead to sleepiness behind the wheel.
- Night shift work: Any time there is an interference with your body’s internal clock, there is a risk of drowsy driving.
In addition, Americans are notoriously sleep deprived. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep every 24 hours.
Investigating a Drowsy Driving Car Accident
Accident victims often believe that it is impossible to prove that another driver was drowsy at the time of an accident. Unless the negligent driver specifically tells law enforcement or others at the scene that he/she was tired, it can present challenges for a drowsy driving accident claim. Don’t worry — a skilled South Carolina car accident lawyer can gather evidence that supports your claim for compensation.
Examples of potential evidence in a drowsy driving accident claim include:
- The police accident report: A law enforcement report may include information that could indicate the accident was caused by a drowsy driver. For example, a driver could have ignored a stop sign and crashed into another vehicle lawfully crossing the road. A lack of skid marks could indicate that the negligent driver did not even attempt to stop, which could establish drowsiness.
- Cell phone records: Phone records can prove more than just distracted driving. Most cell phones today have GPS capabilities, and can show that the driver had traveled a long distance for a long period of time without stopping. A lawyer can subpoena those records, strengthening the argument that the driver was drowsy and caused the crash.
- Medical reports: The driver’s medical records could show a history of sleep apnea or narcolepsy. Both disorders can cause daytime sleepiness and overall fatigue, according to the Mayo Clinic.
- Witness statements: Passengers or other motorists may have seen the driver nodding off behind the wheel. Their testimony can support your drowsy driving accident claim.
- Physical evidence: The at-fault driver’s car may have evidence that fatigue played a role in the crash, such as packages of oral supplements or drinks meant to keep people alert.
When you work with Wilson Law Group, LLC, our drowsy driving accident lawyers will dig deep to find the evidence necessary to prove your case for maximum compensation.
How to Avoid Drowsy Driving Accidents
Read on to learn how you can prevent a drowsy driving crash in South Carolina:
- Sleep well: Many people only get a fraction of the 7 to 9 hours of recommended sleep on a regular basis. Always make sure you are well-rested, particularly before driving for long periods of time.
- Avoid driving at night: There are several reasons the majority of car accidents occur at night. In addition to not being able to see as well, the darkness also inherently makes a person sleepier. When the sun sets, it is also an indication to our body that it is time to go to sleep.
- Carry passengers: Driving alone is a big risk factor for drowsy driving. Having passengers with you will give you someone to talk to, which can help keep drowsiness at bay. Passengers can also take over driving duties if you become too tired.
- Drink caffeine: Drinking caffeinated drinks such as coffee or soda can help keep you alert and prevent drowsy driving in the short term. However, it cannot be used as a replacement for sleep.
- Have someone pick you up from a night shift: People that work late are at higher risk for driving while drowsy. If you have to regularly work night shifts, arrange for someone to pick you up rather than drive yourself.
- Stop and rest: Sometimes, you just have to stop. If your body is too tired to go on, pull over somewhere safe and try to nap before traveling again.
When to Contact a Lawyer
An attorney can be of great assistance to you during a car accident claim. A lawyer will identify the drowsy driver responsible for the crash and negotiate with his/her insurance company to reach a full and fair settlement. A lawyer can also collect evidence that would be difficult for you to obtain on your own to help build a case that the at-fault driver was sleepy at the time of the crash.
Always speak to a lawyer about your case if any of the following scenarios apply:
- You sustained serious injuries.
- The accident involved other cyclists, motorists, or pedestrians.
- You are unsure of which driver caused the crash.
- Fault is being disputed.
- The police report does not accurately reflect what happened.
- The insurance company has denied your claim.
- The insurance company has made a lowball offer.
In South Carolina, the statute of limitations on car accidents is three years from the date of the crash. If you do not file your claim within this time, the insurance company and the courts will likely throw out the case and you will lose your right to compensation.
How Can Wilson Law Group, LLC Help Me?
If you have been injured in a South Carolina crash caused by a fatigued driver, call a drowsy driving accident lawyer at Wilson Law Group, LLC, for a free consultation. We provide comprehensive and personalized legal services to clients in Bamberg, Orangeburg, and the surrounding communities.
Our accomplished legal team can help with every aspect of the car accident claims process. We’ll file the claim, manage talks with the insurance company, and negotiate fiercely for a fair settlement. If settlement talks break down, we’re always prepared to take your case to trial if that’s what it takes to get what you deserve.
Wilson Law Group, LLC, is committed to providing legal help to South Carolinians regardless of their ability to pay. We offer free consultations and take cases on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t pay unless we obtain compensation for you.
Ready to get started? Call us now.