A fatigued driver driving a truck

Legal Consequences for Fatigued Drivers: Holding Negligent Parties Accountable

Driving in traffic comes with the enormous responsibility to only drive when capable of doing so. Nonetheless, fatigued driving is a common problem that puts the lives of many at risk. It also exposes the fatigued driver to significant criminal and civil liability.

Civil Liability

Fatigued drivers face compensation claims and lawsuits from people injured in the car crashes they cause. Property damage claims are also common. When the accident produces serious injuries, the driver could be on the hook for thousands to millions of dollars. 


Damages that a fatigued driver might owe after an accident they cause include compensation for:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Expenses related to the injury and treatment of the injury
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Inconvenience
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of society and companionship
  • Loss of consortium

Fatigued drivers may also be subject to punitive damages, which are another form of punishment. However, they are only appropriate in cases where the driver is in an extremely fatigued condition.

Insurance Coverage

California requires drivers to carry $15,000 and $30,000 in bodily injury and death coverage for one person or one event, respectively. The state also forces drivers to have $5,000 in coverage for property damage. 

If a fatigued driver hits you and causes more injuries and losses than their policy covers, you will likely have to sue them in court. For the driver, this could mean asset seizures, wage garnishments, and seizure of income tax returns. 

If, however, your losses fit squarely within the policy coverage of the fatigued driver, your car accident lawyer will work diligently to recover from the upper range of the policy coverage. The result for the driver would be a significant premium increase.

Commercial Consequences

Many cases of fatigued driving involve commercial drivers who travel far more hours than they are allowed or for too many days without a break. What makes these drivers more dangerous are the giant machines they operate. 

Unfortunately, commercial truck drivers are typically the most prone of all to falling asleep behind the wheel. Delays, deadlines, and pressure from employers keep them on the road longer than they should be, leading to an increase in fatigued driving and, in turn, serious accidents. 

Tired Commercial Drivers

Commercial transportation operators also sometimes push past the safe boundaries of alertness and operate trains, buses, and airplanes while fatigued. The result of crashes involving these tired drivers is typically far more tragic due to the number of passengers inside and the force a crashing transportation vehicle exerts on smaller autos. 

Lawsuits That Come From Accidents

Commercial drivers and their employers face lawsuits for accidents caused by fatigued driving. Through the doctrine of vicarious liability, an employer can be held liable for the negligence of an employee, as well as their own negligence. 

Criminal Consequences

The criminal consequences of fatigued driving typically depend on the seriousness of the accident and injuries. If no one is hurt in an accident caused by a fatigued driver, the driver may only be charged with reckless driving, which is a misdemeanor.

However, if someone is injured or dies, the charge becomes a felony. 

Driver’s License Consequences

Causing a wreck due to fatigued driving can lead to two points on your driver’s license or a driver’s license suspension. For fatigued commercial drivers, a license suspension or revocation is likely. 

For victims of fatigued drivers, hope for the future is found in compensation, which cannot rewrite the past but can lighten the burden.

Meet With a Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyer

Saeedian Law Group can help you pursue damages from a fatigued driver who should not have been behind the wheel. Contact our office in Los Angeles for a free consultation with our personal injury lawyers today.