Tired driving can be approximately as dangerous as drunk driving. If a driver is fatigued, their reaction time and ability to make decisions behind the wheel could be compromised. A driver who is tired enough might even fall asleep behind the wheel.
People injured in car crashes caused by a fatigued driver often have a case against them under Georgia law. Typically, tired driving is not charged as a specific traffic violation, but it can be grounds to show that the driver’s conduct was unreasonable and unsafe, allowing it to form the basis of a car accident lawsuit.
For a free review of your potential car accident case, call the Georgia car accident lawyers at Howe Law immediately at (844) 876-4357.
Using Tired and Fatigued Driving as the Basis of a Car Accident Lawsuit in Georgia
When you file a car accident insurance claim or a lawsuit for your crash, you have to prove that the other driver was legally at fault to get compensation. Often, injury victims and their Atlanta car accident lawyers can point to traffic violations and other unsafe conduct as the basis of the other driver’s fault. There is no tired driving law in Georgia, but our attorneys can still use tired or fatigued driving as the basis of a car accident claim.
There are four elements in a car accident claim: duty, breach, causation, and damages. These elements must be proven by showing that there was a legal duty the at-fault driver owed you, and that their breach of duty caused your crash and the resulting injuries and damages. While a traffic law can often supply the duty, and a violation of that law is enough to show a breach, many cases are based on another standard: reasonableness.
Rather than looking at whether a specific traffic violation was committed, courts can weigh whether the driver violated a more basic and general duty that they must uphold when driving: the duty to drive as an average driver of reasonable prudence would.
Everyone knows that driving while tired is unsafe. This is why many drivers make the safe choice to pull over or avoid getting behind the wheel when they are tired. Juries know this. Judges know this. And the drivers who cause tired driving accidents know this. Because this is general knowledge, and the average driver would likely consider fatigued driving unsafe, evidence that the driver was too tired to safely operate their vehicle is often sufficient to satisfy the breach element and form the basis of your car accident claim.
What Constitutes Fatigued Driving in Georgia?
Identifying and proving tired driving is a necessary part of your case. Our Savannah, GA car accident attorneys can review the facts, details, and evidence in your case to help you identify tired driving, but we will often have to rely on your own observations at the scene of the crash and observations made by police and other witnesses in the aftermath of the crash to prove that the driver was tired.
Signs of Fatigued Driving
Identifying that a driver is too fatigued to drive safely usually means looking at the way they act, move, and speak. Obviously, witnessing a driver actually unconscious behind the wheel before a crash is great proof that they were too tired to drive safely, as is an admission by the driver that they were tired or that they didn’t know what was going on. Evidence that a driver was unconscious after the crash is also good evidence that they were falling asleep – as long as there is no evidence of something like a head injury that might have knocked them out.
You, the police officer at the scene, and other witnesses might have noticed signs that the driver was tired, such as slow responsiveness, closing eyes, and the driver visibly making an effort to stay awake. Signs that they were drinking coffee or energy drinks late at night can also be evidence that they were fighting off sleep.
Drunk Driving vs. Tired Driving
Many cases of tired driving look a lot like drunk driving. Things like slurred speech and bloodshot eyes are often signs of intoxication – but in the absence of other signs like alcohol on their breath or a high BAC, they could be signs of tired driving instead. Additionally, signs that the driver did not react – such as a lack of skid marks – could be a sign that they could not react to danger and attempt to stop their car in time, all because they were too tired.
Weeding out other potential sources of slurred speech, confusion, and the like can also be helpful evidence. For example, if the driver was not drunk, had no drugs in their system, and had no disabilities that might have caused them to react slowly or act the way they did, then being tired or fatigued is a reasonable interpretation of the facts.
Suing for Tired Driving and Drunk Driving in Georgia Car Accidents
In many cases where the driver was tired, they might have also been drunk or on drugs. Many drivers rely on drugs to give them a “buzz” and ward off the effects of tired driving. However, these effects merely mask the effects of being tired and are not substitutes for a good rest. As such, many drivers who seem tired could also be under the effects of stimulants like caffeine – which is not illegal – or Adderall and or other amphetamines – which could be illegal.
Many drunk driving accidents happen late at night, and tired driving is a factor in these crashes. However, if we have proof that the driver was drunk, we can rely on hard evidence like blood tests rather than more speculative evidence like signs of tired driving to prove they were at fault. In these cases, the fact that they were tired can help supplement your proof that their drunk driving caused your accident.
Call Our Car Accident Attorneys in Georgia Today
Call the Georgia personal injury lawyers at Howe Law today at (844) 876-4357 for a free review of your injury case.