Although everyone knows how important sleep is to their health and ability to function normally, many people may not realize how damaging sleep deprivation can be to themselves and others.
This blog post will go over sleep deprivation’s physical and mental dangers, and the devastating accidents sleep deprivation can cause. It also addresses how an experienced personal injury attorney can help you fight for your rights after one of these tragic accidents and go after the maximum compensation you deserve.
What Is Sleep Deprivation?
Your body needs sleep to function properly. As your body rests, it can heal itself, restores its chemical balance, and your brain can create new connections that help with your memory retention. Consequently, the body and brain will not operate properly when you do not get this rest.
Sleep deprivation is a term that describes a person getting less than the needed amount of sleep. For adults, this means seven to nine hours of sleep per night. If individuals get less than seven hours of sleep regularly, it can cause numerous health consequences that can affect them physically and mentally.
The Long-Term Effects of Sleep Deprivation
When individuals do not get proper sleep for significant periods, it can lead to long-term effects, including an increased risk of diabetes, hypertension, obesity, depression, heart attacks, and stroke.
If a person feels incredibly tired during the day, this is one of the primary signs of sleep deprivation. This sleepiness can also make it very difficult to stay awake, resulting in microsleeps, where a person falls asleep for a matter of seconds.
In addition, this sleep deprivation can also affect how an individual feels while awake.
Symptoms that can result from this lack of proper sleep include:
- Slowed thinking
- Poor memory
- Bad or dangerous decision-making
- A lack of energy
- A reduced attention span
- A heightened level of stress, anxiety, or irritability
Chronic sleep deprivation can also result in a wide range of other health problems, including:
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Worsened immune function
- Hormone and metabolism issues
- Mental health issues, including depression and bipolar disorder
The Causes Behind Sleep Deprivation
Unfortunately, many factors can result in sleep deprivation, including lifestyle choices, poor sleep hygiene, work schedules, sleep disorders, and other types of medical conditions.
For instance, sleep deprivation can result from late-night TV binge-watches or jobs with extended hours that do not allow individuals to get the sufficient sleep they need. They may also develop because of sleep apnea, a breathing disorder that causes individuals to wake frequently during the night, hindering the quality and duration of their sleep.
Drowsiness On the Road
In addition to the many health issues that sleep deprivation can cause, it can also become a massive problem on the roads.
Drowsiness when driving can lead to dangerous situations, including:
- Slower reaction times if the motorist needs to brake or change direction suddenly
- A reduction in the motorist’s ability to concentrate on the road
- A reduction in the driver’s ability to make good driving decisions
As a result, drowsy driving has resulted in the following:
- Approximately 633 deaths in just one year because of drowsy-driving-related crashes.
- Around 91,000 police-reported crashes involved drowsy drivers
- An estimated 50,000 injuries because of drowsy-driving accidents
Crashes and Fatalities Resulting From Drowsy Driving
Although sleep deprivation can lead to accidents at any point during the day or night, certain factors are related to drowsy-driving accidents.
For example, these crashes:
- Frequently occur between midnight and six in the morning or the late afternoon.
- Generally, involve a single driver running off the road at a very high speed, with no evidence of braking, and
- Typically occur on highways and rural roads
Worse yet, very little can help individuals suffering from sleep deprivation besides getting proper rest. Even when these individuals drink coffee, they may still experience micro-sleeps, which can cause them to lose consciousness for a few seconds. However, while this may not sound like a big deal, consider if this happens to a motorist traveling 55 miles per hour. They would travel more than 100 yards down the road while asleep for five seconds.
Which Industries Feature the Most Sleep-Deprived Workers?
Each day in the United States, fatigued workers clock in at jobs across all industries. Some industries and some jobs are more likely to produce fatigued workers than others, however, including those that involve night shifts or extended shifts. The publication, Facility Executive, reports that 82 percent of employers think that fatigue is a workplace safety issue, including nearly all manufacturing employers.
Some of the industries where workers are most prone to fatigue, as noted in the Ball University study, include:
- Police and military professionals (50 percent)
- Health care support (45 percent)
- Transport and material moving (41 percent)
- Production occupations (41 percent)
The percentage of female workers in the U.S. who report getting less than seven hours of sleep a night was 38.8 percent in 2018, up from 31.2 percent in 2010. Male workers who report getting less than seven hours of sleep a night increased from 30.5 percent in 2010 to 35.5 percent in 2018. Sleep deficiency in African American workers increased from 40.6 to 46.5 percent from 2010 to 2018, while the numbers for Asian Americans increased from 29.5 to 35.3 percent. For Caucasian workers, the increase from 2010 to 2018 was 29.2 to 34.1 percent.
Many regulatory agencies have strict guidelines in place as to the hours that a worker can work. Some examples of this are:
- The Department of Veterans Affairs, which limits the hours that can be worked by nurses providing direct care to shifts no longer than 12 hours and no more than 60 hours in any seven-day period, unless the nurse is providing emergency care.
- The Federal Aviation Administration, which places limits on the hours that flight crew members can work.
- The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which regulates the hours that those driving commercial trucks may drive before taking a break or having off-duty time.
- The Federal Railroad Administration, which limits the hours of rail workers.
- The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which regulates the hours worked by employees at nuclear facilities.
Sleep Deprivation in the Workplace
While sleep deprivation can have catastrophic consequences for drivers on the road, it can also lead to issues at the workplace. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, several studies show similarities between fatigue-related impairment in physiological and cognitive functioning and impairments due to alcohol intoxication.
Consequently, working while sleep-deprived can be dangerous. Sleep deprivation can result in memory, balance, concentration, and decision-making issues, and it is also known to cause about 13 percent of workplace accidents and injuries yearly. On the other hand, highly fatigued workers are 70 percent more likely to be involved in accidents, and workers who sleep less than five hours a night are three times more likely to experience an injury than those who sleep seven to eight hours.
Collecting Compensation Following an Accident Due to Sleep Deprivation
Depending on the circumstances of the accident caused by a person’s sleep deprivation, you may be able to pursue certain types of financial damages for the losses and harm you suffered in the accident.
Typically, these damages include payment for:
- Medical expenses resulting from doctor visits, hospital stays, prescription medications, medical devices, surgeries, and other treatments
- Future ongoing medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
- Property damages, such as costs related to replacing your car
- At-home nursing care
- Replacement services
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional anguish
- Loss of quality of life
- Inconvenience and other hardships
However, because these damages include easy-to-prove and hard-to-quantify losses, you should consider speaking with an experienced personal injury accident attorney as soon as possible following this accident. These lawyers can review what happened, figure out the legal options you have and the financial damages you can pursue, and assist you as you go after the maximum amount of damages.
Taking Action After a Car Accident Due to Drowsy Driving
While sleep deprivation can negatively impact almost everything a person does, the results can be catastrophic when operating a motor vehicle while fatigued. For these reasons, if you suffered harm in a car crash because of another person’s lack of sleep, it may help to take certain actions after this accident to ensure you get proper medical care and help protect your legal right to financial recovery.
Contact the Proper Channels for Help
Following a car crash, call 911 immediately for help. If you cannot do this yourself, have someone else call on your behalf. The dispatcher can ensure the proper authorities are dispatched to the scene and get you the medical help you need.
In addition, after the police arrive, they can investigate the incident and find out if the other party was lacking sleep and caused the accident. Your attorney can then use this report to prepare a strong legal case on your behalf and go after the money you deserve.
Document the Crash Scene
If it is safe, try to get as many photos and videos of the crash scene as possible. Include pictures and videos of the other driver’s behavior, injuries, damage to your car, the placement of the vehicles on the street, traffic signals and signs nearby, traffic and weather conditions, and other things that can help show what happened.
Speak to the Other Driver and Witnesses
Try to get the other driver’s information, including their name, motor vehicle details, contact information, driver’s license number, and insurance information. In addition, if there were people present at the crash scene, try to get their personal details, including name, phone number, and email address. These individuals can provide testimony to help your attorney determine what happened.
As you speak to these people, watch the comments you make. Do not make definitive statements about the crash, take any of the blame, or apologize for the accident. These types of remarks can be used against you and impact the amount of money you can claim. However, if the other side issues statements such as “I’m sorry” or “I fell asleep behind the wheel,” take note of these and let your attorney know as soon as possible.
Get to a Doctor Promptly
Even if the injuries appear minor after a car crash, you should still get to a doctor as soon as possible. These accidents can often result in injuries you may not even realize you have because of the adrenaline in your body or because the symptoms have not yet manifested. For these reasons, after these accidents, have a medical care professional perform an examination and confirm you do not have any hidden debilitating injuries.
Plus, after this examination, these doctors can create a medical report detailing the extent of your trauma and providing a connection between the car crash and your injuries. This report can be beneficial if the other side or the insurance company tries to argue that the two are not connected.
Provide the Evidence You Have to Your Attorney
When you meet with your attorney regarding your case, make sure you bring all the evidence you have, including your medical and police reports, photos and pictures of the accident scene, bills related to the accident, and witness details. Your lawyer can use this evidence to prepare a solid legal case and fight for the maximum financial recovery you deserve.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Today For a Free Case Evaluation Following an Accident Due to Sleep Deprivation
If you suffered harm from another person’s wrongful actions due to sleep deprivation, you may qualify for compensation for the injuries and losses you sustained. More importantly, you will not have to go after this money alone. When you work with an experienced personal injury attorney, these lawyers can handle this complex legal battle for you.
Once hired, your attorneys can review your accident, determine who was responsible, investigate whether their sleep deprivation caused the accident, and determine your legal options.
Your lawyers can also:
- Find relevant evidence to prove fault and the extent of the damages you suffered.
- Bring in experts to help validate your legal claim, such as healthcare professionals, accident specialists, and financial experts.
- Provide the legal support you require and the necessary answers and clarifications during this difficult time.
- Handle the settlement negotiations and fight for the fair settlement amount you require.
- Fight hard for maximum compensation by taking your case to trial if the other side is unwilling to play fair and get you a just settlement offer.
If someone’s sleep deprivation caused you to endure devastating injuries, extensive pain and suffering, and a slew of medical bills, do not wait any longer to go after the justice and financial damages you deserve. Rather, contact an experienced personal injury attorney today for a free case evaluation and learn how these legal professionals can help you and your claim.