night driving and drowsiness

How Night Driving Contributes to Drowsiness

Drowsy driving is one of the greatest dangers on America’s roads. While only 25% of our driving takes place at night, the National Safety Council reports that half of all traffic fatalities happen at night. Driving while drowsy puts you and other people at risk; and driving at night can actually make fatigue even worse. Learn more about the dangers of sleepy driving and how to protect yourself.

The Dangers of Nighttime Driving

The human body naturally follows a set of circadian rhythms. As it gets darker outside, the body prepares to sleep by secreting melatonin, dropping its body temperature, and slowing down digestive processes. Trying to undertake mentally draining tasks like driving during this time is often counterproductive. Even those who are on a schedule that requires them to sleep during the day and stay awake through the night experience the decreased productivity that comes with nightfall. When you drive at night, you may experience a slower reaction time, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating.

Effects of Drowsy Driving

Driving while tired can be extremely dangerous, particularly if you do it on a regular basis. The National Sleep Foundation found that driving after being awake for 18 hours is similar to having a blood alcohol level of 0.05. Being awake for 24 hours produces effects similar to having a blood alcohol level of 0.1. Driving while drowsy can cause:

  • Daydreaming, which makes it difficult to remember the speed limit, where you are on your drive, or respond appropriately to obstructions
  • Drifting off
  • Swerving or drifting between lanes
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty responding quickly to traffic, unexpected stops, or roadblocks
  • An increase in aggressive driving behaviors

Fatigued driving is a factor in many serious and fatal car crashes. Unfortunately, many people do not realize that they are too tired to drive until they cause an accident, are jarred awake by a honking horn, or miss their exit.

Accidents caused by drowsy driving vary widely in severity. A driver unable to react to a sudden slowdown in traffic could cause a minor fender-bender when they rear end the car in front of them. They could cause serious harm to themselves and nearby property when they fall asleep, drive off the road, and collide with a tree or building. They can cause multi-car accidents when they fall asleep and crash into another vehicle at full speed. The key to minimizing drowsy driving fatalities is knowing the signs of fatigued driving and responding appropriately.

Staying Safe on the Road

Pay attention and watch out for signs of drowsy driving when you are on the road. Signs that you may need to take a break include:

  • Catching your mind wandering multiple times in a short stretch of road
  • Heavy eyelids, nodding off
  • Frequent yawning
  • Restless or irritable thought processes
  • Inability to stay in your lane
  • Unintentional speeding up or slowing down

Plan ahead to avoid drowsy driving by:

  • Driving with a buddy; taking turns driving can help both drivers get enough sleep, or the passenger can keep the driver awake and attentive
  • Avoid medications that cause drowsiness
  • Do not drink before driving
  • If you exhibit signs of drowsy driving, stop at a rest stop for a 20-minute nap or get a caffeinated drink
  • While planning a long drive, plan for multiple stops; do not plan as though you will not need any breaks for food or rest
  • At minimum, take breaks every 100 miles or two hours; use this time to walk around, get some fresh air, and refocus

Injured in a Drowsy Driving Crash?

While driving at night, you are not only at risk of becoming fatigued while driving. You are also at greater risk of being hit by someone who is too tired to drive safely. If this happens, you need to reach out to a personal injury attorney immediately. They can gather evidence and seek compensation through the insurance company or through a lawsuit. Provide copies of any evidence you have.

For example, if you have dash cam footage of the responsible driver swerving or driving erratically prior to the crash, that may serve as evidence that they were too tired to drive. You can also provide police reports, medical reports outlining your injuries, and estimates for vehicle repairs.

Contact Us If You Have Been Hurt in a Car Accident

If you or someone you love has been hurt because of someone else’s negligence, they must be held responsible. Take the first step now by contacting the team at Burns, Cunningham & Mackey, P.C. Call us directly at 251-432-0612 or message us online to have someone reach out to you.

injured by an aggressive driver

What Happens When You Are Injured by an Aggressive Driver?

Aggression has no place on the road, but traffic, long traffic lights, and other uncontrollable issues can bring out the worst in some drivers. Aggressive drivers often take unnecessary risks and intentionally drive dangerously to get revenge for a real or imagined slight, putting everyone else on the road at risk. If you are injured by an aggressive driver, it is important to know what your next step is and protect your rights.

Alabama’s Laws Regarding Fault

Some states have no-fault insurance laws, which allow each driver to get compensation from their own insurance provider. Alabama is not one of those states, so if you are injured in a crash caused by someone else, you must file a claim with their insurance company to seek compensation.

Alabama is one of few states that uses a strict contributory negligence rule for car accident claims. If a case goes to court and a driver is found to have contributed at all to the accident, they can lose their right to any compensation. Even if they are deemed to only be 1% responsible for the crash, they could end up with nothing from the plaintiff.

Since most personal injury cases are settled out of court, contributory negligence may not be a direct factor in your case. However, car insurance companies do use this to their advantage when determining how much they are willing to pay out, and this is one of many reasons it is important to have strong legal counsel by your side advocating forcefully on your behalf.

Signs of Aggressive Driving and Road Rage

Defensive driving is an essential skill when you’ve been targeted by an aggressive driver. Some drivers are always aggressive, and just being on the same road as them could put you in the line of danger. Others focus their rage on drivers who they believe drive too slow, are too close to their vehicle, or otherwise slighted them. Watch out for these habits and behaviors:

  • Driving at extremely high speeds
  • Ignoring traffic signs or lights
  • Tailgating
  • Ignoring right of way
  • Passing where it is not safe or permitted
  • Erratic driving
  • Driving on the median, sidewalk, or shoulder
  • Cutting other drivers off and dropping their speed

If you are on the road with an aggressive driver, the most important thing to do is get away from them. Slow down, allow them to pass, and avoid any sort of communication. This includes hand gestures, mouthing words, or facial expressions. Anything you do may antagonize them further and put you in danger.

What to Do If an Aggressive Driver Hits You

Aggressive drivers are responsible for many accidents in Alabama and throughout the United States. In general, the same rules that apply to any accident apply to crashes with aggressive drivers. You should:

  • Remain at the scene of the accident
  • Call 911 immediately
  • Check everyone in your vehicle for injuries
  • Get your insurance information ready
  • Take photos and gather evidence

However, if the other driver was driving aggressively or exhibiting signs of road rage, you should also:

  • Remain in your car until law enforcement arrives. You do not want to get into a confrontation with the other driver.
  • Communicate only with the police officers who are on the scene. Do not communicate directly with the other driver.
  • Be ready to discreetly record with your cell phone. If the other driver is out of control, tries to attack you, or is confrontational with you, this evidence may be important in your case.

Seeking Damages After a Crash Caused by an Aggressive Driver

It is important to hold aggressive drivers accountable for the damage they cause. Not only does this allow you to recover expenses related to a crash, it also sets a precedent and may prevent others from behaving in similar ways in the future.

It all starts with reaching out to an attorney. It is extremely difficult to negotiate with the other driver’s insurance company on your own. Thanks to Alabama’s contributory negligence rule, they may drastically reduce their settlement offer if they can pin even a tiny bit of blame on you. Remember, they are not on your side. Anything you tell them can be twisted and used to prove that you are partially liable for the crash. Instead, choose an Alabama personal injury attorney who can handle negotiations and, if necessary, take your case to court.

Damages vary widely, depending on the severity of the accident, the evidence available, and the other party’s insurance company. You may be able to seek damages for:

  • Medical expenses related to the crash, including future expenses if your injuries require long-term care
  • Lost wages
  • Lost future wages if the crash permanently impacts your ability to work
  • Adaptive equipment and medical supplies
  • Pain and suffering

Reach Out to Burns, Cunningham & Mackey, P.C. Now

The team at Burns, Cunningham & Mackey, P.C. knows just how much damage a single aggressive driver can cause. We fight aggressively on behalf of our clients to get them the compensation they deserve. Call us as soon as possible after your accident to compare your options. Fill out our online contact form to have a team member reach out to you, or call us at 800-574-4332 to get started.

car accident ptsd

PTSD and Car Accidents – Is it Real?

The short answer is yes.  A single incident, such as a car crash, can cause post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. We often hear about PTSD in relation to soldiers returning from war. It used to be referred to as “shell shock.”

The individual may re-run what he or she experienced in a continuous loop in their brain. A single incident trauma such as a car wreck, sexual assault, and a gunshot wound can also spark recall of the traumatic event and subsequent anxiety and repetitive thinking.

PTSD and Car Accidents

Car accidents are the leading cause of post-traumatic stress disorder in the general population.

The National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that there are more than three million total crashes annually involving passenger cars, trucks, and motorcycles.  Among those, the National Institute of Mental Health predicts 39.2% of motor vehicle accident survivors develop PTSD.

PTSD can affect personality, sleep, and general wellness. Sufferers may experience flashbacks, nightmares, auditory or visual memories. Hyper-anxiety can take the form of an increased heart rate, sweating, nightmares, and increased respiration. Some people may become depressed or withdrawn as a result of the traumatic event.

Some turn to self-medicating with drugs or alcohol as sort of an emotional numbing to avoid the event.

Often these symptoms will not go away on their own. If symptoms of PTSD last more than a month, you may be formally diagnosed with the condition. Many will have a difficult time regaining the quality of life they enjoyed before the trauma unless they enter therapy.

There are several risk factors for PTSD. For example, a history of trauma or a family history of trauma can increase the risk for the condition. If there is a high level of emotion associated with the auto accident, such as guilt associated with causing a life-altering injury to a passenger that too could increase the risk of PTSD.

Although it may not sound rational, after a car accident, a former driver may begin to feel that driving is not safe and may avoid getting behind the wheel again.

Treatment

People can suffer from untreated PTSD for decades but as recognition increases, so do recognized treatments. According to research from the Medical College of Wisconsin, treatment may involve getting behind the wheel again and shifting your thoughts from the event to the present.

Someone may coach the driver through his fear to begin driving again. The driver’s memories will not go away but will have to be managed in response to those memories. 

Treatment will involve acknowledging that being nervous and upset is normal. Open lines of communication must be established in any form of PTSD treatment. Note also that treatment may be an ongoing process.  

The worst thing is to avoid getting in the car and letting the fear and memories become the new normal. Do not let symptoms progress without seeking the help of a professional.

Your Auto Accident Attorney

The experienced personal injury lawyers at Burns, Cunningham, and Mackey have helped thousands of individuals after their auto accidents seek recovery and compensation.

We understand that there is more to an auto accident than property damage. There may also be soft-tissue damage and head trauma. As part of your recovery, you may not even be aware that PTSD has become part of your life since it may not be part of the routine screening for trauma patients.

If not, we can help guide you to be screened for PTSD symptoms and to seek additional comprehensive treatment after your car accident.

We all react differently to things after a major life-altering event, and we do not judge you for how you feel.

The Burns, Cunningham, and Mackey law firm wants you to know that PTSD can become part of your damages claim following an auto accident. We will also seek compensation for medical bills and lost wages.  PTSD can be diagnosed and we will bring in the appropriate experts to testify on your behalf and calculate a dollar amount of compensation.

We offer compassionate care of your case and make sure you receive the treatment you need to help you return to the quality life you enjoyed before the accident. Call our Mobile, Alabama office today at (800) 574-4332 so we can get started on your case.

recover from a car accident

5 Ways to Speed up Your Recovery after a Car Accident

Many individuals who are involved in auto accidents suffer from some kind of physical injury. In some cases, the injuries are relatively minor and only last for a few days. In other cases, the injuries can be moderate to severe, and it can take several weeks or months (or longer) for the victim to fully recover or reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). 

There are numerous types of injuries that can result from a car accident, and each situation is different. And there is no set time for recovery; this will depend on the severity of the injuries, the overall health of the individual, how the individual’s body reacts to various forms of treatment, and other specific factors. 

All that said, there are several things you can do to speed up your recovery time if you were injured in a motor vehicle accident:

  1. Get Immediate Medical Help After the Accident

Whenever you are involved in an accident, even a minor fender-bender, you should always get a thorough medical examination. Some injuries are readily apparent, but in other cases, the symptoms may not show up until several hours or even a few days later. This can even happen with more severe conditions such as internal injuries. Always go to the emergency room and get checked out just to be on the safe side. The sooner your injuries are properly diagnosed, the sooner they can be treated, and the better your chances of a full and speedy recovery.

  • Listen to your Doctor

One important legal consideration with regards to auto accidents is the duty of the injured party to mitigate their losses. This means not only getting any immediate and thorough medical examination, but also listening to what your doctor tells you and undergoing any surgeries or other treatments that they recommend. It may seem overwhelming to have to make time in your schedule for follow-up visits, further testing, and various types of procedures. This may require you to miss more time from work, and you might not want to go through all of this. Keep in mind, however, that the pain and hassle you have to endure in the short-term will be well worth it in the long run when you are able to more quickly heal from your injuries.

  • Follow Through on all Necessary Rehabilitation

Along the same lines as the previous point, we cannot stress enough the importance of following through on physical therapy and any other recommended rehab. It can be challenging to keep all of your physical therapy appointments, especially if you have to go in three or four times a week. Another area that is difficult for many people is doing the exercises that the therapist recommends after they get home. These exercises are very important, however, because they help you rebuild your strength. This is why not doing them as prescribed could be detrimental to your rehabilitation plan.

  • Stay Rested and Eat Right

In addition to doing the required exercises, you should also follow your doctor’s orders with regards to resting and eating healthy. Do not try to do too much too soon, and take the time needed to rest and let your body heal. Also be sure to stay hydrated and eat a diet full of the vitamins and nutrients your doctor recommends.

  • Consult a Mental Health Professional

For many people, being injured in an auto accident is a traumatic experience. Just the collision itself can cause recurring nightmares and a fear of driving. Studies also indicate that a significant percentage of car accident victims develop various forms of psychological trauma; such as severe anxiety, depression, fear of an uncertain future, difficulty sleeping, difficulty with focus and concentration, emotional outbursts, and many others. 

Psychological trauma is not something to be ashamed about – it is very normal under the circumstances. But the symptoms of this condition are not likely to go away quickly on their own. In fact, if left untreated, they can grow far worse, and they can also cause your physical condition to deteriorate. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above (or similar symptoms), consult a mental health professional as soon as possible, so you can be properly treated.

Obtain Strong Legal Counsel

As mentioned in the previous point, a car accident can be a traumatic experience. And when you are trying to recover, the last thing you need to be dealing with is the stress of trying to obtain just compensation (for your losses) from an insurance company that wants to pay you as little as possible. This is especially true in a state like Alabama, where they apply the “contributory negligence” legal standard. This means that if an injury victim is found to have “contributed” in any way to the underlying accident, they can be barred from recovering any damages at all. 

You can be sure that the other side will try to use the state’s defendant-friendly legal standard against you, and this is why it is extremely important to get an experienced attorney involved as early as possible in the process. With a skilled and knowledgeable attorney in your corner, you can rest easy knowing that the legal part of the process is being handled, and that you are in the best possible position to recover full and fair compensation for your injuries.