Proving the At-Fault Driver Was Drowsy During the Collision

rubbing nose in driver's seatPeople who get behind the wheel and drive while drowsy can cause a serious collision. While victims of these crashes may think they have a strong case, obtaining evidence of drowsy driving presents its own unique challenges.

Most people may not even realize how tired or fatigued they are after a long day at work or driving late at night after a busy day. They are unlikely to admit that they have gotten inadequate sleep. However, there are ways to establish that the at-fault driver may have been driving while drowsy during the collision. A fatigued driver’s reaction time is impaired, and this can make him or her just as dangerous as a drunk driver.

Victims of drowsy driving collisions should strongly consider consulting an experienced Windsor-based car accident lawyer to help them prove their case. A lawyer can help you gather the evidence necessary to build a strong case for compensation. The initial consultation we offer is free and confidential.

Find out if you have a case: (866) 320-4770.

Reasons Drowsy Driving Collisions Happen

Drowsy driving is a serious road safety issue that accounts for a growing number of collisions resulting in injuries and fatalities. About 20 per cent of collisions in Canada involve driver fatigue.

Inadequate sleep is often a reason that a driver is tired or exhausted. However, there are several different reasons a driver may not get enough sleep and cause a drowsy-driving collision.

Longs Shifts

People who work odd hours, graveyard shifts, or double shifts may have a hard time getting adequate sleep. They may often drive to and from work while being severely sleep deprived. Shift workers who work overnight are more likely to be in a drowsy-driving collision due to their irregular sleep schedule.

Sleep Disorders

People who suffer from sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea or narcolepsy, can unintentionally fall asleep during the day. For instance, they may fall asleep while driving. Sleep disorders range in severity, but they all cause some form of sleep deprivation, which can increase the likelihood of a collision.


Drowsy driving may also be caused by alcohol consumption or prescription medications. Alcohol can cause drowsiness and slower reaction times for drivers. Even one drink is enough to cause impairment.

Prescription medications can also make drivers very sleepy while behind the wheel. Combining alcohol with medications can increase drowsiness and reduce a driver’s ability to remain alert on the road.

Proving the At-Fault Driver Was Drowsy

Proving the other driver was drowsy during the collision can be challenging. There is no test – similar to a drunk driving test – that a police officer can administer to determine if a driver is tired or fatigued.

It is also unlikely you will catch the driver asleep at the wheel after the collision. The impact and loud noise of the collision would have woken him or her up. You or a witness must have seen the other driver yawning or falling asleep at the wheel before the collision happened.

There are, however, certain factors that may lead to finding that drowsiness caused the collision. These factors may include but are not limited to:

  • Time of day the collision happened
  • Police report
  • Lack of skid marks
  • Dash cam footage
  • At-fault driver’s medical records
  • Video surveillance
  • At-fault driver’s work records

Many drowsy driving collisions occur when the sun rises and the sun sets. These collisions also occur in the late afternoon and evening, particularly in rural areas with long stretches of road.

If the responding officer believes that fatigue played a role in the collision, he or she will likely write down these observations in the report. For instance, perhaps the officer noticed the other driver rubbing his or her eyes, constantly yawning, or other signs of fatigue or exhaustion. The police report could serve as strong evidence that the other driver was not only drowsy but at fault for the collision.

A lack of skid marks may also be evidence of drowsy driving. Drivers who are generally alert and detect a possible collision will apply the brakes, causing skid marks to appear on the road. A drowsy driver will pay less attention to the road and have a slower reaction time if he or she must brake or steer suddenly.

Dash cam footage from you or the other driver may help prove negligence. For instance, the footage may show the at-fault driver was drifting in and out of sleep in the moments leading up to the collision.

Many different medications can cause fatigue or drowsiness. If the other driver was taking medication that should not be taken while behind the wheel, it will be noted in his or her medical records. This includes any medical condition the at-fault driver may have, such as sleep apnea, that causes sleepiness.

Video surveillance in the area may have even caught the collision. This footage can be subpoenaed and may show the at-fault driver was yawning and having a hard time staying awake before the collision.

Additionally, the at-fault driver’s work records may serve as evidence of drowsy driving and help support your claim. For instance, commercial truck drivers must log their hours on the road. They often spend long hours behind the wheel and may push themselves to keep driving while sleepy to meet deadlines.

How a Lawyer Could Help Build a Strong Case

If you have a valid case, our lawyers are ready to gather the supportive evidence needed to help you build a strong case for compensation. This may involve the following:

  • Reconstructing the collision
  • Consulting accident construction experts
  • Taking photos and videos of the scene
  • Collecting and reviewing medical records
  • Consulting medical experts
  • Speaking with witnesses

Once the evidence has been gathered, your lawyer will work hard to prove that the other driver owed you a duty of care to drive safely, this duty was breached by driving while drowsy and this caused the collision, and you suffered injuries and damages in the collision.

Give Us a Call to Schedule a Free Consultation

If you were involved in a drowsy driving collision through no fault of your own, you may be eligible to pursue significant compensation. This is why it is important to have a knowledgeable lawyer by your side who can advocate for your rights and fight for your best interests every step of the way.

Our firm has recovered more than $300 million on behalf of our clients. Learn more about how we may be able to help and what our clients have to say about the services we have provided to them.

Contact us today to set up a free initial consultation. There is no risk or obligation involved.

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