The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that in 2013, drowsy driving contributed to 72,000 collisions that killed 800 people and left 44,000 others injured. It’s an extreme outcome that is, unfortunately, not surprising. Various sleep studies have shown that when you drive after 24 hours without sleep, it is the equivalent of driving with a BAC of 0.10, which exceeds the 0.08 that can get you arrested for drunk driving.

Who drives while drowsy?

Although a limited sleep schedule is a common problem for long-distance truckers, airline employees, and night shift workers, the Valley Sleep Center reported that the most sleep-deprived occupations include:

  • Home health workers
  • Attorneys
  • Police officers
  • Doctors and paramedics

Any career that involves long shifts or high stress levels that make sleep difficult can result in someone getting behind the wheel when they are in no condition to do so. So can various types of medication that have a sedating effect and untreated narcolepsy or sleep apnea syndrome.

Many accidents related to drowsy driving occur in areas where the sleep limit averages 55 mph, so collisions tend to happen at high speed and cause devastating injuries and even death. Victims face months and even years of pain, physical therapy, and medical treatment, during which they cannot work or provide their families with the expected levels of care.

Holding drowsy drivers responsible

Despite the dangers of drowsy driving being well-known, people still go out on the road when they can barely keep their eyes open. When their irresponsible choice causes you or someone you love to be injured, you have legal rights that include seeking compensation.

A personal injury attorney will help you file a claim with the driver’s insurance company and, if your injuries are severe enough to warrant exemption from the state no-fault motor vehicle insurance laws, then sue the negligent driver. Although proving that they drove while drowsy is more difficult than proving intoxication, it can still be done. For example:

  • Short, straight tire marks or absence of skid marks at the crash site, which suggests that the person did not brake or swerve to avoid hitting you.
  • Data retrieved from the car’s event data recorder, which can show that there were no attempts to brake.
  • Evidence that the person worked long shifts with little time for at least 8 hours of sleep between each one.
  • Evidence that the driver was taking an over-the-counter or prescription medication known to cause drowsiness.

When someone else’s carelessness causes you a debilitating injury, the law gives you the standing to claim your losses. Contact the law office of Jayson Lutzky, P.C. if you were injured in a motor vehicle accident. Mr. Lutzky is a New York personal injury attorney who can help you seek justice. He offers free in-person initial consultations. You may reach his office at 718-329-9500. Visit www.MyNewYorkCityLawyer.com/Accidents to learn more.