Everyone is familiar with the usual causes of vehicle accidents. Speeding, drunk driving, and bad weather all play a part in the accidents we see every day. There can be another cause, especially at night, and that is fatigue. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Association (NHTSA), there were more than 600 fatal accidents directly related to sleepiness or fatigue in 2020.
Why Choose Us?
When you need a Philadelphia fatigued driver accident lawyer, you need a team with the knowledge and experience to tackle the issues in your case. Proving the other driver was dozing behind the wheel requires evidence and documentation, and tying that to your injuries needs a skilled advocate. The Cochran Firm has both.
Attorney Robert S. Miller has been practicing personal injury law in Philadelphia since 1992. He is a member of the Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and New Jersey bar associations. He was recognized as a 2022 Pennsylvania Super Lawyer and 2020 Best Lawyers in America, Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs.
If you have been involved in a car accident and think the other driver may have been suffering from fatigue or sleepiness, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. At The Cochran Firm, we are here to help you with your case and see that your pain and suffering is suitably redressed. Call our accident lawyers at 800-969-4400 or make an appointment online for a free consultation.
What We Do
In Pennsylvania, driving while fatigued or sleepy is not illegal. When you hire us for your drowsy driving accident lawyer, we won’t be proving that the other driver unlawfully fell asleep and caused your accident. Instead, we need to show that they knew they were tired and should have stopped to rest. This is a type of negligence.
Fatigued Driving and Drowsy Driving
Fatigue is a feeling of “weariness, tiredness, or lack of energy.” Fatigue is different from “drowsiness,” which is simply a desire to sleep. Fatigue may be a result of excessive physical activity, stress, boredom, illness, or even hunger. Fatigue may lead to drowsiness.
The symptoms of fatigued driving may include:
- Slowed reaction times
- Tunnel vision
- Loss of mental acuity
- Dulled perceptions
- Impaired thinking.
A fatigued driver may see a potential hazard and be unable to assess it in time to react or not recognize the danger. For instance, they may see that traffic ahead has stopped but not realize they need to step on the brakes to avoid a collision.
When fatigue leads to sleepiness, the driver may act as if they were drunk. A study by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) found that 18 hours without sleep caused the same reactions as a blood alcohol level of .05%, or about two shots of liquor. Eventually, the fatigued driver will have to sleep and could experience an event known as “microsleep.” These split-second naps have been implicated in numerous vehicle and industrial accidents.
Proving Your Case
Showing that the other driver was fatigued or drowsy means showing that they were not getting sufficient sleep. A drowsy driving accident lawyer can sometimes prove this in cases where the other driver was a commercial truck driver who is required to keep a log of their off-time. Truck drivers and big rig drivers are frequently involved in fatigued-driver cases, and the state requires them to maintain a record of the hours they spend resting and sleeping.
At The Cochran Firm, our legal team knows how to obtain the records from drivers and their companies to determine whether the driver may have been fatigued. We will interview the driver and others in the vehicle to see if there is other evidence that can be found. Our team will also:
- Investigate the accident to reconstruct the incident and determine the probable cause and possible fault
- Gather evidence and documentation such as police and medical reports, photos and videos of the location, and other statements of incidents in the area
- Interview witnesses, police, and first responders for details about the driver’s behavior during and after the accident
- Carry out depositions of essential parties, obtain expert witnesses to describe the mechanics of the accident, and explain the future costs and impact of your injuries
- Negotiate with the insurance companies and other parties, so you and your family aren’t bothered by their requests for information
- Prepare for trial if a reasonable settlement can’t be reached.
Our legal team will help with all the paperwork for your insurance claim and documentation. We’ll help you meet the deadlines and get everything in on time, so your claim isn’t denied because something was sent in late.
Settlements and Damage Awards
No lawyer can guarantee you will win your case. The outcome is up to the jury. All we can do is tell you the best estimate, what your case should be worth, and the compensation you are entitled to receive. Our job is to gather all the evidence and documents so that the other side has a reason to settle with you.
In Pennsylvania, plaintiffs may sue for economic and non-economic damages. Sometimes punitive damages may be awarded when the defendant has behaved in an unusually malicious or egregious manner.
Economic damages are things that can be readily calculated or which have a fixed dollar value. Economic damages typically include:
- Medical bills, doctor’s fees, medication, rehab, and future costs
- Lost wages, future pay, and other income
- Medical devices, disability accommodations (such as home alterations), and other consequential costs
- Funeral costs and expenses
- Attorney fees.
Non-Economic damagesusually involve quality of life, psychological, or other less easily quantified damages. They can include:
- Anxiety, depression, and emotional trauma
- Chronic pain
- Reduced ability to enjoy life
- Loss of consortium.
Punitive damages are not requested in the initial lawsuit, but your attorney will request them if the case goes to trial. Punitive damages are awarded in cases where the defendant’s conduct needs to be punished or future conduct needs to be prevented.
Frequently Asked Questions
Before you meet with a fatigued driver accident lawyer, you may have some basic questions. Some of the most common questions we’ve been asked are listed here:
How long do I have to file a fatigued driver case?
Pennsylvania has a two-year statute of limitations to file any legal action for personal injury, including vehicle accidents. There may be exceptions to your case, depending on the type of injury you suffered or when you learned of it. Always contact an attorney before making any decisions about filing a lawsuit about a personal injury case.
What if I am partially responsible for the accident?
You may still be able to recover even if you were partially responsible. Under the modified comparative negligence rule in Pennsylvania, if you were less than 51% responsible, you can still recover a portion of your damages. You may receive the percentage of your damages up to your degree of fault. For instance, if you were 30% liable, and the award was $100,000, you could receive $70,000.
I found a video of the other driver sleeping on social media. Can I use that in my case?
Probably not. Pennsylvania has some very strict laws about when social media can and cannot be used in court cases. Currently, courts will not allow social media evidence unless it is “relevant to the subject matter involved in the pending action.” (Rules of Civil Procedure 4003.1) Proving that a video found on another person’s social media account was the driver in your case and that it happened before your case would be difficult, if not impossible.
The other driver’s insurance company keeps calling me. Should I talk to them about the accident?
No. Never talk to the other driver’s insurance agent or attorney. At best, they are trying to encourage you to drop your case or agree to a settlement in their client’s favor. At worst, they are hoping to lure you into an incriminating statement that will exonerate their client and put all the blame on you. Any comment, even as benign as “I’m doing fine,” can be used against you. If anyone asks to speak with you, refer them to your attorney. That’s why we are here.
What does it cost to hire a fatigued driving accident attorney?
Hiring a Philadelphia fatigued driving accident attorney from The Cochran Firm will cost you nothing. We operate on a contingency fee basis, meaning you pay nothing until your case settles. All fees and costs will be taken after the award is given. We will handle the legal work and leave you free to recover.
The Cochran Firm has been helping Philadelphia clients for more than four decades. We are here to give you the best legal assistance in your fatigued driver accident case today. To schedule your free personal consultation, call us today at 800-969-4400. Our attorneys are here for you 24/7, so don’t hesitate. Call now.