Drowsy Driving — How Is It Treated in Los Angeles?

Drivers in Los Angeles spend many long hours in their cars commuting to work and running errands. Given that so many drivers are on Los Angeles freeways, roads, and streets at any given point in time, there is often a relatively high likelihood of a motor vehicle accident. In many collisions that occur in and around Los Angeles, drowsy driving is to blame. If you or someone you love sustained serious injuries in a drowsy driving crash, you are likely wondering how your case will be treated in Los Angeles. In short, you may be eligible to seek financial compensation for your losses by filing an auto insurance claim or a lawsuit since drowsy driving is considered to be negligent driving in California.

When you are ready to get started on your case, one of our experienced Los Angeles drowsy driving accident attorneys can help you to seek the financial compensation you deserve. In the meantime, we want to provide you with more information about how drowsy driving cases are treated in Los Angeles.

What is Drowsy Driving in Los Angeles?

In order to understand how drowsy driving accidents and claims are treated in Los Angeles, it is important to have a clear understanding of what constitutes drowsy driving. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drowsy driving includes any operation of a motor vehicle while the driver is fatigued or sleepy. Drowsy driving crashes typically occur when a motorist has not gotten enough sleep, but as the CDC underscores, a drowsy driving collision “can also happen due to untreated sleep disorders, medications, drinking alcohol, and shift work.”

Understand the Impact of Fatigued Driving

Fatigued or drowsy driving is a common cause of motor vehicle crashes in and around Southern California. The following are facts and figures concerning drowsy driving from the CDC and the National Safety Council (NSC) that show the risks and effects and drowsy driving:

  • Drowsy driving is responsible for more than 83,000 motor vehicle collisions on average each year, although it is possible that number is higher given the difficulty in detecting fatigued driving;
  • Drowsy driving accounts for approximately 37,000 injuries on average each year and nearly 900 fatal collisions, although these figures too may be underestimates given that there is no objective test to detect drowsy driving;
  • According to the AAA Foundation, many accident estimates for drowsy driving are extremely conservative, and it is possible that as many as 328,000 collisions each year are caused by drowsy driving, with a total of 109,000 injuries and 6,400 fatalities;
  • About 1 out of every 25 adult drivers admit to falling asleep while driving in the last 30 days alone;
  • Approximately 20 percent of all adult drivers say they fell asleep behind the wheel at least once in the last year;
  • More than 40 percent of all adult drivers admit to having fallen asleep at some point while driving at least once;
  • Sleeping for fewer than 6 hours can make a drowsy driving collision more likely;
  • If you are tired and get behind the wheel, you are three times more likely than a well-rested driver to be involved in a collision;
  • Drivers under the age of 25 account for about 50 percent of all drowsy driving accidents; and
  • Driving without sleeping for 20 hours is the equivalent of driving when you have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent (which is unlawful in the U.S.).

Filing a Claim After a Drowsy Driving Crash

What can you do to seek financial compensation after a drowsy driving collision, and how will your case be treated by an insurance company or by a court?

After a drowsy driving collision in which a fatigued driver caused the wreck in which you were injured, your first step will likely involve filing an auto insurance claim. Since California is a fault state (also known as a “tort” state) for auto insurance purposes, California auto insurance law allows you to choose between filing a first-party claim through your own insurance company or a third-party claim through the drowsy driver’s auto insurer. Most people will file a third-party claim through the at-fault driver’s insurance company, but filing a first-party claim may go more quickly and might allow you to obtain more compensation if there is an issue of insurance limits. When auto insurance companies are considering fault, they certainly consider drowsy driving to be negligence, thereby meaning that the drowsy driver was at fault for the collision. A car accident lawyer can help you to prove that drowsy driving caused the crash.

When an auto insurance claim is insufficient to get you the compensation you need—as a result of insurance limits or another issue—you may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the drowsy driver. In order to win a drowsy driving lawsuit, you will need to be able to prove that the driver was too fatigued to drive, meaning that the driver was negligent. It can be difficult to prove that a driver was drowsy, but your Los Angeles car accident lawyer can help to gather evidence to prove that the defendant was too drowsy to drive safely. There may be witnesses who saw the defendant’s erratic driving behavior, for example, such as:

  • Yawning;
  • Having difficulty keeping your head up while driving;
  • Difficulty maintaining speed; and/or
  • Drifting out of the lane.

Contact a Los Angeles Drowsy Driving Attorney for Assistance with Your Case

Nobody should have to suffer injuries in a preventable drowsy driving accident. Yet there are so many fatigued drivers on Southern California roads who are commuting after a long day at work or transporting goods in large trucks for thousands of miles without adequate rest. When a drowsy driving accident happens, it is important to know that you can hold the fatigued motorist accountable for negligent driving. However, it can be more difficult to prove drowsy driving than other types of negligent driving, such as distracted driving or impaired driving. One of our experienced Los Angeles drowsy driving accident lawyers can provide you with the assistance you need. Contact Fisher & Talwar today for more information.