Brandon & Tampa Personal Injury Attorneys
It's Like Having a Lawyer in the Family
Follow Us Facebook Twitter Linked In

Call For a FREE Consultation Handset 813-438-5960 Serving Brandon, Tampa and all of Florida

Breaking Down A Drowsy Driving Crash

Drowsy2

The AAA estimates that fatigued drivers cause about a third of the injury crashes in Florida, but this figure is nothing more than a rough estimate. For one thing, there is no “Breathalyzer” test to determine fatigue; for another, many law-enforcement agencies do not code crashes as drowsy driving-related unless the tortfeasor (negligent driver) falls asleep while driving.

It’s important to establish drowsy driving because it is what some lawyers call behavioral negligence. Unlike operational negligence, such as running a stop sign, behavioral negligence, like drowsy or drunk driving, begins before the tortfeasor started driving, so the tortfeasor makes a conscious choice to endanger other people.

Juries often award higher damages in behavioral negligence cases than in operational negligence cases, because it is one thing to have a momentary lapse while driving and quite another to recklessly endanger others in order to meet a schedule or for some other reason that is probably rather insignificant.

Liability

Since it is not illegal to drive while drowsy, the negligence per se shortcut is probably not available in most fatigued driving crashes. So, victim/plaintiffs must establish the five elements of a negligence case, which are:

  • Duty,
  • Breach,
  • Cause,
  • Proximate cause, and
  • Damages.

Each element must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not.

Noncommercial drivers have a duty of reasonable care, so they must pull over and rest if they feel sleepy. Commercial drivers have a higher duty of care under Florida law, so they should not drive unless they know that they are well-rested and on their normal wake-sleep schedules.

As mentioned earlier, it is usually not easy to establish breach, cause, and proximate cause in drowsy driving crashes. Breach essentially means that the tortfeasor’s conduct fell below the standard of care, while both cause and proximate (substantial) cause mean that there must be a direct link between the breach and the damages.

The best way to establish these key elements is often to approach them like a doctor diagnosing an illness. If a patient comes into the office complaining of chest pain, and the patient is either a smoker or has a relevant family medical history, the doctor will probably diagnose lung cancer or some other type of lung disease. Similarly, if the tortfeasor exhibits any risk factors for drowsy driving, such as:

  • A young or old age,
  • Insufficient amount of rest the night before, or
  • Recent change in work schedule,

it is more likely than not that the driver was fatigued.

Damages Available

Victim/plaintiffs may only recover for physical injuries to themselves or their property. However, if the injury is a “serious” one as defined in Section 627.737 of the Florida Statutes, the victim/plaintiff is entitled to additional compensation for his or her:

  • Pain and suffering,
  • Loss of consortium (companionship),
  • Emotional distress, and
  • Loss of enjoyment in life.

The statute defines a serious injury as one that involves disfigurement, death, loss of function, or a “[p]ermanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability.” The last category is very broad and could include a wide range of injuries, such a broken bones and whiplash.

Contact Aggressive Attorneys

For prompt assistance from an experienced personal injury lawyer in Brandon, contact Reed & Reed today, because you have a limited amount of time to act.

From our office in Brandon, Reed & Reed helps clients in Tampa, New Tampa, Plant City, East Hillsborough County and throughout the state of Florida.

Resources:

leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0600-0699/0627/Sections/0627.737.html

uscourts.gov/services-forms/bankruptcy/bankruptcy-basics/chapter-7-bankruptcy-basics

Reed & Reed, Attorneys at Law
Reed & Reed, Attorneys at Law, is located in Brandon, FL and serves clients in
and around Brandon, Tampa, Apollo Beach, Sydney, Gibsonton, Balm, Valrico, Wimauma, Sun City Center, Lithia, Ruskin, Durant, and Hillsborough County.

Our Locations

Brandon

101 East Lumsden Road
Brandon, FL 33511
Tel: 813-438-5960
Fax: 813-438-5995

St. Petersburg

1700 66th Street North, Ste. 104-1008
St. Petersburg, FL 33710
Tel: 727-362-7520
Fax: 727-362-7521

Lakeland

248 N Kentucky Avenue #72
Lakeland, FL 33801
Tel: 863-274-7715
Fax: 863-274-7716

Tampa

401 E Jackson Street, Ste. 2340
Tampa, FL 33602
Tel: 813-440-6678
Fax: 813-440-6682

Clearwater

13575 58th Street N, Ste. 200
Clearwater, FL 33760
Tel: 727-767-9914
Fax: 727-767-9915

Memberships

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

No content on this site may be reused in any fashion without written permission from www.NeedReed.com

MileMark Media - Practice Growth Solutions

© 2014 - 2017 Reed & Reed, Attorneys at Law. All rights reserved.
This law firm website is managed by MileMark Media.

Contact Form Tab