If you’ve been in a car crash caused by someone who fell asleep at the wheel, you should consult with a New York drowsy driving accident lawyer to discuss your options in terms of seeking compensation.

The hectic life of the average modern American leaves less room for sleep than it should. Studies have shown that we’re getting less and less shut-eye, and this is having a negative impact on our general well-being. Not only can a lack of sleep have a terrible effect on our own lives, it can also endanger the lives of others.

Drowsy driving is among the most common causes of car accidents in the United States. Unfortunately, even those of us who get an adequate amount of sleep every night might still be at risk from fatigued driving, simply because so many of the people we share the roads with are driving on suboptimal levels of sleep.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a drowsy driver, contact the New York drowsy driving accident attorneys at Tucker Lawyers PC. Our team will investigate your case to determine whether another driver might have been fatigued when they caused your accident.

How Dangerous is Drowsy Driving?

A report from AAA said that drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. Specifically, the study found that:

  • Missing just one to two hours of sleep can double your risk of involvement in a crash.
  • Missing two to three hours of sleep can quadruple your risk of involvement in a crash.
  • Getting only four hours of sleep can increase your chances of being involved in a vehicle crash by nearly 12 times.

According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 27% of American adults regularly sleep less than they should. There are a number of factors feeding into this issue; other CDC data reveals that almost 15% of American adults almost always have difficulty falling asleep or remaining asleep, and the risk of sleep issues is higher for those in low-income households, those living in rural areas, and those from certain ethnic backgrounds. 

Drowsy Driving Among Commercial Motor Vehicle Operators

Fatigue is a major problem in the commercial driving industry, as drivers must often stay on the road for long stretches to meet deadlines. Compounding this problem is the fact that some companies providing transportation services encourage their drivers to break the rules governing mandatory rest periods for business reasons.

Requirements in this area are set out by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Known as hours of service (HOS) regulations, they stipulate that any driver whose job is to transport cargo must not remain on duty for any more than 14 consecutive hours and must take a break of at least 30 minutes after driving for 8 consecutive hours. Drivers carrying passengers (such as bus drivers, taxi drivers, or those working with ride-sharing services) must not drive for more than 10 hours consecutively and must not drive after having been on duty for 15 hours.

Fatigue has been cited by safety advocates as one of the biggest dangers in the transportation industry, including trucking, aviation, and public transportation. In a review of transportation-related accidents, around 20% involved some form of fatigue.

Tips to Avoid Drowsy Driving

The best way to avoid being fatigued behind the wheel is to get plenty of sleep. However, if you need to drive while you haven’t slept properly, there are other ways to keep fatigue at bay, including:

  • Staying off the road during times of the day or night when you are usually asleep.
  • Eating only light meals or snacks before driving, as a full stomach can make you feel drowsier.
  • Traveling with a passenger, especially during long trips or late-night journeys. If you can’t bring anyone with you, keep the radio on throughout your drive.
  • Taking regular breaks during long journeys. Experts recommend pulling over for a short rest every two hours or so.
  • Avoid driving after taking any medication that might make you drowsy or dizzy.

Caffeine can help you stay alert on the road as well. Researchers have found that caffeine naps are a particularly effective method of beating drowsiness on the road; these involve drinking a caffeinated beverage directly before a quick nap, so that you fall asleep before the stimulant kicks in and wake up as it’s starting to take effect. However, it’s important to realize that caffeine is not a solution for acute sleep deprivation; if you need rest, caffeine won’t serve as a substitute indefinitely.

Most importantly, if you feel yourself getting tired at all, you should pull over and rest until you feel confident that you’re capable of driving safely. No matter how much of a hurry you’re in to reach your destination, your first priority should always be your safety and that of other road users.

Punitive Damages in New York Drowsy Driving Claims

Punitive damages in New York drowsy driving claims serve as a financial penalty; rather than compensating injured parties, they aim to punish wrongdoers. Because of this, they’re not available to every personal injury plaintiff, as compensatory damages are.

In order for punitive damages to be awarded, it must be clear that the conduct of the defendant was particularly egregious. Drowsy driving will not generally satisfy this standard. In extreme cases, though (such as if the at-fault driver was awake for 24 hours or more when traveling), a court might rule that punitive damages are appropriate. However, it’s important to understand that these damages are the exception, not the rule.

Every road accident case has a large number of factors that will be relevant to this decision, so the best way to find out for sure whether you’re likely to be entitled to punitive damages is to consult with a New York drowsy driving accident lawyer.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • How much sleep do you need to be fully rested?

    Sleep requirements vary depending on a wide range of factors, particularly your age. However, experts generally recommend getting between 7-9 hours of high-quality sleep each night.

  • Is drowsy driving illegal in New York?

    There is no specific law that explicitly makes drowsy driving illegal. However, drivers may face criminal charges under general traffic laws if their fatigue impairs their ability to drive safely.

  • How long do I have to file a drowsy driving claim in New York?

    The time limit laid down by New York’s statute of limitations for personal injury claims is generally three years from the date of the accident or the date on which you learned about your injuries. There are certain exceptions to this rule, but you will generally lose your right to file a drowsy driving lawsuit if you allow this deadline to pass.

  • How can I prove the at-fault party in my case was drowsy?

    Your New York drowsy driving accident attorney may be able to find evidence that the at-fault driver in your case was suffering from excess fatigue, such as a report from a witness who saw the individual in question around the time they were traveling. Even if it’s not possible to prove the driver was drowsy, though, it may still be possible to prove negligence anyway, such as by showing that they were driving recklessly.

  • What should I document following a drowsy driving accident in New York?

    Once you’re sure it’s safe to do so, you should collect photos of the accident scene, gather contact and insurance information from all parties involved, and ask any witnesses for their contact details as well.

  • Are there specific laws for commercial drivers in New York regarding drowsiness?

    Yes. Drivers of trucks and other commercial vehicles must adhere to FMCSA regulations regarding hours of service. If a commercial driver gets into an accident while in violation of these rules, they’re more likely to be liable for any injuries they cause.

  • What role do expert witnesses play in drowsy driving cases?

    Expert witnesses can play a crucial role in drowsy driving cases in New York. Depending on the circumstances of your case, your lawyer might decide to work with sleep experts (to explain the effects of the at-fault party’s fatigue on their driving ability), accident reconstruction specialists (to analyze how the crash occurred and how an alert driver might have reacted differently to the situation at hand), or medical professionals (who can provide insights into the injuries sustained and how these should dictate payable damages).

If You’ve Been Injured by a Negligent Driver, Call Tucker Lawyers PC

Our Manhattan car accident attorneys often find that fatigue, distraction, or impairment had a role to play in causing a serious accident. If you’ve suffered injuries due to an accident like this, it’s imperative that you seek legal guidance about your situation. Don’t let someone else’s carelessness impact your finances as well as your physical well-being.

Contact Tucker Lawyers today to schedule a free initial consultation about your case. You can reach us via our online contact form or over the phone at (516) 399-2364.

john tucker

Managing Attorney John. J. Tucker, Esq.

John has personally handled thousands of clients who were victims of another’s negligence and fights relentlessly for their rights. John enjoys bringing closure to a client’s matter so that the injured party can move forward with their life. His background enables him to evaluate complex liability related claims and bring resolution to claims in a record time frame. [ Attorney Bio ]

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