Driving drowsy is a common danger on America's roads today, as hectic schedules and busy workdays coincide to make drivers feel fatigued and stressed. Driving while tired can make a person lose focus, negatively impacting response times and decision-making. Usually, it is the driver's responsibility to ensure that they are alert and active when they get behind the wheel.
According to one Ohio man, however, his wife's workplace contributed to her drowsy driving-related death. The woman worked an extremely busy schedule as a nurse, a job that allegedly left her tired and stressed. According to her husband, the hospital should bear some of the responsibility for the fatal accident.
In 2011, the woman, who worked as a nurse at Jewish Hospital in Cincinnati, was involved in a fatal one-car accident. According to an attorney representing her family, she is believed to have fallen asleep at the wheel. She was driving home after working a 12-hour shift.
The woman routinely worked long hours at the hospital, and was frequently called in to work on her days off. The hospital was, at the time, described as "regularly understaffed," and nurses would commonly skip breaks and take on extra shifts. Management was apparently aware of the staffing issue, but nothing was done to alleviate the strain.
Following the accident, the husband filed a civil suit for wrongful death, stating that the conditions at the hospital helped to contribute to the fatal accident.
In a wrongful death case, one could be found to be partially liable for a person's death if they are found to have created a situation in which one could reasonably expect a person to be injured or killed.
In this situation, the husband's attorney is making the case that employees were routinely worked into a state that would make it difficult for them to safely function afterwards. Whether the court will see it this way remains to be seen.
CNN Health, "Lawsuit: Ohio nurse was 'worked to death'" Dominique Debucquoy-Dodley, Nov. 13, 2013