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Are Car Wrecks Just a FAD?

Personal Injury AttorneyCombined fatigue, alcohol consumption and drug use (FAD) account for about half the car crashes in Winnebago County. All three of these conditions have basically the same effect on the body and brain. Excessive fatigue, alcohol and many drugs slow reaction time and impair judgment ability.

Rockford personal injury attorneys normally obtain substantial compensation in FAD-related crashes. This compensation typically includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Ordinary Negligence in Illinois

Essentially, ordinary negligence is a lack of reasonable care. That’s generally the legal duty in car crash claims. Operators must drive defensively, avoid crashes if possible and obey the rules of the road.

Driving while fatigued arguably violates this duty. As mentioned, drunk driving and drowsy driving are basically the same. Driving after eighteen (18) consecutive hours without sleep is like driving with a .05 BAC alcohol level. Evidence of fatigued driving includes:

  • Bloodshot eyes,
  • Erratic driving, and
  • Tortfeasor’s (negligent driver’s) statements about fatigue.

In court, victim/plaintiffs must establish ordinary negligence by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). This same evidence may also establish alcohol or drug use. Additional circumstantial evidence in this area includes open medicine containers in the vehicle, current prescriptions and open alcohol containers in the vehicle.

Negligence Per Se in Rockford

Attorneys typically use ordinary negligence to establish liability in low-exposure crashes. For example, most people are not legally intoxicated until they consume three or four drinks. But impairment begins with the first sip of alcohol.

In high-exposure crashes, the negligence per se doctrine usually applies. Tortfeasors are liable for damages as a matter of law if:

  • They violate a serious safety law, like the DUI law, and
  • That violation substantially causes injury.

In Illinois, either alcohol or drugs can trigger a DUI prosecution. However, there is no breath or blood test for fatigue driving, meaning drowsy driving incidents almost always involve ordinary negligence.

Third Party Liability

In some FAD wrecks, the tortfeasor is not the only party responsible for damages. That’s especially true in alcohol-related claims. Illinois has a very broad dram shop law. This provision holds bars, grocery stores, restaurants and other commercial alcohol providers liable for damages if the:

  • Tortfeasor was intoxicated at the time of the crash,
  • Vendor provided alcohol, which the tortfeasor consumed,
  • Alcohol caused the tortfeasor’s intoxication, and
  • Injuries resulted from the intoxicated-related crash.

There is no need to prove obvious intoxication at the time of sale.

Commercial operator fatigued driving cases may involve third-party liability as well. Legally, employers are responsible for the negligent acts their employees commit during the scope of their employment.

Third-party liability theories are especially important in uninsured or underinsured driver crashes. If the tortfeasor does not have enough insurance coverage to provide fair compensation, vicarious liability gives victim/plaintiffs an additional source of recovery.

Count on Experienced Attorneys

Substance and fatigue-related crash victims have several legal options. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Rockford, contact Fisk & Monteleone, Ltd. We routinely handle matters in Winnebago County and nearby jurisdictions.