A Sleeping Driver Caused My Injury: What are my Options?

Falling asleep at the wheel has caused many accidents and has injured numerous people.  A Hudson car accident attorney may be able to help if you have been injured by a driver who fell asleep at the wheel.  Whatever your injuries may have been, be it physical harm, pain and suffering, and lost wages or future earning potential, it is possible to hold the sleeping driver accountable for these costs. 

You need to know that falling asleep at the wheel is a form of negligence.  This is because drivers have a duty to use reasonable care while driving so that they don’t cause harm to others.  When motorists breach this duty by falling asleep at the wheel, and other people are injured as a result, then liability will arise. 

In fact, negligence is presumed when motorists fall asleep at the wheel.  Of course, motorists may rebut this presumption at trial by offering an acceptable excuse for the accident, but one is hard pressed to find an appropriate explanation for falling asleep at the wheel.  This type of suit against a negligent driver is not a “slam dunk”, however.  This is because the region in which the suit is commenced can affect the outcome of the case.

There are several tiers of courts in New York.  The most basic way to explain it is that you have the trial level court, then appellate division courts, and then the highest court in New York, the Court of Appeals.  Some appellate division courts hold that victims of sleeping drivers may automatically recover compensation from the negligent driver.  Other appellate divisions disagree.  Thus, you need an experienced car accident attorney to work through the law to provide you with the proper result you are looking for.

For a victim to be successful in a case where the defendant has fallen asleep at the wheel and caused the victim’s injuries, the victim will have the burden to prove that the defendant driver continued to drive dispute having had warnings of the likelihood of falling asleep.  While this appears to be difficult, the law understands that a driver who is falling asleep will know he or she is in danger of falling asleep but continues to drive anyway. 

Thus, the law places another presumption that sleep does not ordinarily occur without some notice to the driver, such as heavy eyes, nodding off, and delayed reactions.  Hence, the driver will have notice of the possibility of falling asleep but still continues to drive despite this warning.  The Third Department has stated these symptoms of falling asleep relate to the duty of care and are questions of credibility and fact for a jury to access—not for a judge.

The attorneys at Greenberg and Greenberg handle car accident cases throughout New York State, including Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, and Albany County.  Our legal team has earned a reputation for dedicated service to our clients injured in New York personal injury accidents.  Please contact us today to receive a free case evaluation by dialing locally to 518-828-3336 or call toll free at 877-469-9300.