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Legal Liability for Falling Asleep at the Wheel 

Ellis & Thomas, PLLC  May 27, 2024

Driving requires constant attention and vigilance. But sometimes life gets busy and stressful, and people who have difficulty getting sleep at night end up falling asleep at the wheel. It's an unfortunate fact of life as well as a dangerous situation to be in. 

At Ellis & Thomas, PLLC, we understand how devastating driving accidents can be. Serving clients through Houston, Texas, Harris County, Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, and Brazoria County, we've seen firsthand the impact on victims and their families.  

We’re here to explain the legal consequences of falling asleep while driving and what you can do if you or a loved one find yourself in this situation. 

Understanding the Liability

When you fall asleep at the wheel and cause an accident, you can be held legally liable for negligence. Negligence, in legal terms, means that you failed to act with the level of care that a reasonable person would have shown under the same circumstances.

To state the obvious, falling asleep while driving significantly impairs reaction times, decision-making abilities, and awareness of hazards, much like driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. 

In the eyes of the law, choosing to drive despite being drowsy or severely fatigued is a form of negligence because the driver poses a risk to themselves and others on the road. If a car accident occurs, the driver can be held responsible for damages, which may include medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering experienced by the victims. 

Falling Asleep at the Wheel: The Legal Implications in Texas

Like many other states, Texas does not have a specific statute that directly addresses this issue. However, Texas law enforcement and courts can apply existing laws related to reckless or negligent driving to cases of drowsy driving. For example, drivers could be charged and penalized under reckless driving statutes. 

In addition, Texas follows the "modified comparative negligence" rule, meaning that if you're partially at fault for an accident (due to drowsy driving), your compensation may be reduced by your percentage of fault.  

How Do You Protect Yourself?

If you've been the victim of a drowsy driving accident, you must take steps to protect your rights and interests. Here's what we recommend: 

Seek Medical Attention 

Your health comes first. Even if you think you don’t have an injury immediately after the accident, symptoms may appear later. 

Document Everything 

Take pictures of the scene, your vehicle, and any injuries. Keep records of medical visits and expenses related to the accident. 

Don't Be in a Hurry to Negotiate  

Insurance companies are in the business of minimizing payouts. Before accepting any settlement offers, consult with a personal injury attorney who understands the intricacies of drowsy driving cases. 

Consult Witnesses 

If there were any witnesses to the accident, their statements could be crucial in building a strong case. Make sure to get their contact information at the scene if possible. 

Report the Incident 

It's important to report the accident to the local police or highway patrol immediately. A formal police report can serve as valuable evidence when claiming compensation. 

Review Your Insurance Policy 

Understand the coverage details of your insurance policy. It may offer benefits such as medical payments coverage or uninsured motorist protection, which can be vital in covering costs before a settlement is reached. 

Stay Off Social Media 

Be cautious about what you post on social media after the accident. Insurance companies and opposing attorneys can use your posts against you, potentially undermining your claim. It's best to refrain from discussing any aspects of the accident or your injuries online. 

Call Us Immediately 

Our team is committed to fighting for your rights. Insurance companies use a variety of underhand tactics to undervalue claims and we are prepared to counteract them, so you receive the compensation you deserve. 

Why Choose Ellis & Thomas, PLLC?

Falling asleep at the wheel is a serious issue that can have catastrophic consequences. If you have been affected by a drowsy driving accident, know that you have legal options available. 

We are more than personal injury attorneys. We are advocates for justice, fighting against big insurance companies to level the playing field for our clients.  

With years of experience with personal injury law and a strong commitment to staying updated on legal changes, we are a formidable ally to have in your corner. We're dedicated to shifting the power dynamic, ensuring that you're not excluded from the process but are instead equipped to make informed decisions about your case. 

Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation. Our team is here to guide you through every step of the process, from understanding your rights under Texas law to securing the compensation you rightly deserve. We can help you take control of your situation and start the path toward recovery.