Drowsy Driving Accident Lawyer in Waipahu, HI
Americans are busy people. As we push through the daily grind of trying to “get things done,” one of the first things we tend to sacrifice is sleep. But not getting enough rest is extremely dangerous, especially before driving.
Did you suffer serious injuries in a crash with a fatigued driver in Waipahu? You could be eligible to seek fair compensation from the fatigued driver who hit you. Your legal options vary significantly based on Hawaii’s no-fault insurance and personal injury laws. It’s wise to talk with an experienced car accident lawyer before settling the case yourself.
At Recovery Law Center, our Waipahu drowsy driving accident lawyers can help you seek justice if your injuries result from someone’s negligence. Our firm provides top-notch legal services to injured people. Whether you call Waipahu home or are visiting Oahu for business or pleasure, we are the go-to law firm for legal advice if you get hurt. Call or contact us today for a free initial consultation.
The Dangers of Driving While Tired
Fatigued drivers can’t operate their vehicles safely. That’s because sleep deprivation compromises driving performance in several ways:
- Sleepy drivers have slower reflexes. This makes it harder for them to react quickly enough to avoid an accident if a sudden hazard appears. An example could be a vehicle slamming on the brakes without warning.
- Fatigued drivers have impaired judgment. The brain doesn’t make connections quickly when tired. This lag makes it challenging for drowsy drivers to recognize dangers and take the necessary actions to avoid them.
- Sleepiness affects depth perception. Severe fatigue can also affect a driver’s ability to judge the distance between objects. The National Safety Council reports that driving after going more than 20 hours without sleep is equivalent to driving with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.08, the legal limit in most U.S. states.
- Tired drivers fall asleep. Even nodding off for a few seconds is enough to cause a disaster. A driver could veer off the road, into another lane, or strike a pedestrian or cyclist with just a moment of lapsed awareness.
What Makes People Sleepy When Driving?
While there are many reasons for fatigue, there are four main reasons drowsy driving occurs.
- Sleep deprivation: People generally need about seven hours of sleep every night. When they don’t get enough rest, it can severely compromise their ability to drive safely. If someone sleeps poorly multiple nights in a row, the effects can be cumulative, diminishing their driving performance even further.
- Intoxication: Alcohol and illegal drugs can increase drowsiness. Alcohol is a depressant. Consuming high quantities of alcohol can increase feelings of fatigue or cause the driver to pass out behind the wheel. Similarly, many illegal narcotics are also depressants. Users risk falling asleep while driving if they are under the influence when they get behind the wheel.
- Prescription medications: Many allergy medications, painkillers, and other medications frequently make users drowsy. Check the warning labels on all your medications before driving, and don’t drive until you know how the medicine affects you.
- Sleep disorders: According to statistics from the American Sleep Apnea Association, sleep problems plague as many as 50 to 70 million Americans. Undiagnosed sleep disorders can lead to overall fatigue and increase the risk of a drowsy driving accident.
Investigating a Drowsy Driving Car Accident in Waipahu
There are a few legal issues to address first before you can file a personal injury claim against a drowsy driver in Hawaii.
First, you’ll have to prove you’re eligible to file a claim. Hawaii is a no-fault insurance state for most car accident cases. This means you generally file a claim with your own insurer after an accident to claim your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits. These benefits are not always enough to cover your losses after an accident. It’s good to consult with a drowsy driving accident lawyer to determine whether you can file a personal injury claim to pursue additional compensation.
To file a personal injury claim after a drowsy driving accident, you’ll have to prove you meet certain standards set by Hawaii law. Specifically, you must show:
- Your losses exceeded the limits of your PIP benefits;
- You suffered a permanent injury because of the crash; or,
- Someone died in the crash.
Once you’ve met this threshold, you can proceed with an insurance claim or lawsuit against the drowsy driver.
Examples of evidence commonly used in drowsy driving accident cases include:
- Medical records
- Police accident reports
- Eyewitness statements
- Photos or video footage from the accident scene
- Expert witnesses or forensic accident investigative reports
Drowsy Driving Prevention
Here are a few helpful tips to prevent drowsy driving accidents:
- Try to get at least seven hours of sleep every night.
- If you’re consistently having trouble sleeping, check with a doctor to see if you have a sleep disorder.
- Avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages before bed.
- Avoid using anything with a screen (e.g., TV, phone, tablet, etc.) right before bed.
- Don’t drink alcohol or use drugs before driving.
- Check your prescription medications to ensure they won’t affect your ability to drive.
When to Contact a Lawyer After a Fatigued Driver Car Accident
If you’ve been injured in a car accident caused by a drowsy driver, you have a limited time to seek compensation after a crash.
Under Hawaii Revised Statutes section 657-7, you have two years from the date of the drowsy driving accident to file a personal injury lawsuit against the person or party who caused you harm. Failure to take legal action before that time limit expires could cost you dearly. The court will be barred from hearing your case if a lawsuit is filed past the statute of limitations.
Because investigating the accident, securing evidence, and negotiating for a settlement takes time, it is crucial to contact a Waipahu drowsy driving accident lawyer as soon as possible if you’ve been hurt.