On June 5, 2013, a police dashboard camera videoed a 1999 Mercury Marquis, driven by a Stuart, FL man, first drifting onto an Interstate 95 shoulder, then hitting a concrete barrier wall and veering back into a lane. A policeman, driving a 2012 Chevrolet Impala police cruiser and going in the same direction, was hit by the Marquis. The Impala overturned, hit a tree, and injured the policeman. The Marquis driver was not under the influence of alcohol. The reason the driver of the Marquis allowed his vehicle to drift was a common one: He fell asleep at the wheel.
Evaluating the Evidence
In this particular situation, a camera caught the sequence of events, but that is not always the case. So how does a Stuart, FL personal injury attorney prove someone was a drowsy driver or fell asleep and was responsible for causing a vehicle accident? There are several ways. The attorney can evaluate any available road evidence like skid marks or damaged terrain to recreate events. Many times, accident witnesses are located and interviewed. Experienced personal injury attorneys also know that certain people are more likely to drive drowsy and will investigate whether a driver causing a vehicle accident takes medications that cause sleepiness, has a diagnosed sleep disorder, does shift work, or is a commercial driver who logs many hours of driving each day.
Sometimes, drowsiness may be the only logical explanation, if there are no drugs or alcohol involved, no indication the driver was texting or talking on a cell phone, and the time of the accident is normally when people are sleeping. For example, the Marquis and Impala crashed at 4:30 A.M. Sunday morning. Though that is not enough by itself to prove drowsy driving was involved, it is a clue the Stuart, FL personal injury attorney will use while trying to recreate the sequence of events.
A Serious Matter
Drowsy driving is a serious problem. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 2.5 percent of fatal crashes are due to drowsy driving. It is estimated that drowsy driving is involved in approximately 100,000 car accidents annually. Florida is one of a several states where drowsiness has been cited in criminal cases involving a vehicle accident death. The driver may be charged with involuntary manslaughter even when there are no signs of substance abuse. Florida takes drowsy driving so seriously that the state passed the “Ronshay Dugans Act” which created Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. During the first week of September, drowsy driving education campaign activities are conducted.
Anyone involved in a vehicle accident should contact us as soon as possible after seeking emergency medical treatment. The attorney will quickly and diligently work to capture all evidence pertinent to the case. The fact is there are no excuses for drowsy driving because people know when they are getting sleepy and can stop driving at any time. It is the only sensible thing to do.