Federal government agencies have estimated that between 5,000 and 6,000 fatal accidents occur each year as the result of drowsy driving. When we are tired, our ability to react appropriately to sudden situations is diminished. We may nod off periodically, fail to see stop signs and traffic signals, speed, swerve into other lanes, or fail to notice bicyclists and pedestrians in the vicinity. These conditions also apply to truck drivers, who often face enormous pressure to meet delivery deadlines and to maximize the number of hours they are on the road. A drowsy truck driver may result in a tractor-trailer swerving across a roadway or barreling through an intersection. At the A.W. Smith Law Firm, our Columbia drowsy driving accident attorneys have handled numerous cases throughout Mid-Missouri and beyond. Our car accident lawyers have the experience it takes to vigorously pursue a settlement or a judgment in your favor.
Whether the person responsible for your injuries is a motorist or a commercial driver, you can potentially bring a negligence claim against them to seek compensation for your harm. In a negligence claim, the plaintiff must show that the defendant failed to exercise the same level of skill and care that a prudent and reasonable motorist or truck driver would use in a comparable situation. When it comes to drowsy driving, for example, a prudent person likely would forgo getting behind the wheel if he or she knew that his or her ability to drive safely and appropriately was compromised.
For truck drivers, there are many state and federal regulations designed to limit the number of hours they can drive in a given day to prevent fatigue-related accidents from occurring. These regulations are often known as hours of service laws. For instance, federal regulation 49 CFR § 392.3 prohibits commercial drivers from operating a truck when the driver’s ability to remain alert is impaired or likely to become impaired. Proving that the defendant was too drowsy to drive can be difficult in some situations. As a result, it is often necessary to solicit the assistance of an accident reconstruction specialist who can help recreate the accident and explain how the defendant’s breach of the duty of care resulted in the crash.
After showing that the defendant breached the duty of care, the plaintiff must next establish that he or she would not have suffered injuries if the defendant had acted with due care. This step is referred to as causation and also includes an inquiry into whether the crash was a foreseeable result of the defendant’s negligence. Finally, the plaintiff will need to provide evidence for the damages to which he or she may be entitled in the claim, often including medical expenses, physical therapy, missed paychecks, repairs to a vehicle, loss of future earning capacity, pain and suffering, and diminished quality of life.