While most people are aware of the dangers of driving while under the influence of stupefying substances, fewer people may realize that driving while tired may be as dangerous. It is estimated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that drowsy driving leads to approximately 80,000 motor vehicle accidents annually. In 2014, drowsy driving killed 846 victims in the United States.
New Jersey victims of accidents caused by a driver who fell asleep while driving are faced with a problem. Holding such a driver accountable may seem not to be difficult, but the truth is it may be problematic. The problem may lie in proving the fact that the person fell asleep while driving. This may turn out to be a bit more complicated.
It is often necessary to make use of circumstantial evidence to prove that a driver was not fully awake at the time of an accident. Such evidence may, for example, refer to an absence of skid marks, where a driver crossed over lanes or crashed into a crowd at an intersection. Evidence provided by cell phone records may provide geographical evidence of a person's whereabouts as well as document if someone had been traveling over long distances. Medical prescriptions of a driver may also provide possible evidence of a driver being drowsy.
New Jersey law allows for victims of motor vehicle accidents to file personal injury claims, while the legal estate of deceased victims may file wrongful death claims. In such cases, it is the duty of the plaintiff to provide appropriate evidence that the defendant was negligent. Victims or their families may benefit from consulting a personal injury lawyer experienced at dealing with such cases for an evaluation of their individual cases and advice on how to proceed.
Source: FindLaw, "Liability for Accidents Caused by Falling Asleep at the Wheel", Accessed on Dec. 6, 2016