As marijuana use becomes more socially acceptable and the opioid epidemic grows, an increasing number of Americans are driving while high. Unfortunately, when drugged drivers inevitably cause crashes, the resulting injury claims are more challenging to prove than claims involving drunk driving.
Below, learn why drugged driving is so dangerous, why drugged driving claims are more complex than other auto accident claims, and what you can do to protect your rights after a crash.
Americans Don’t Understand the Dangers of Driving While High
A recent survey showed that while most Americans believe drinking and driving is a problem, only 29% object to people driving after marijuana use. Unfortunately, data suggests that driving while high is actually more dangerous than drunk driving.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), the annual number of fatal accidents that involve positive drug tests has been steadily increasing. While 27.8% of fatal crashes involved positive drug tests in 2005, the percentage rose to 43% by 2015. Today, the number of fatal drugged driving accidents exceeds the number of wrecks involving alcohol intoxication. Marijuana is the most common drug found in drivers’ systems during post-crash drug testing.
While using a single drug is dangerous, driving under the influence of multiple substances is much worse, and combining alcohol and drugs is more dangerous still. Mixing alcohol and marijuana results in higher concentrations of THC in your bloodstream and impairs your driving much more compared to using marijuana alone.
“Data suggests that driving while high is actually more dangerous than drunk driving”
Drugged Driving Claims Are More Complicated than Drunk Driving Cases
In drunk driving cases, a clear and well-established connection exists between blood-alcohol content (BAC) and functional impairment. However, there are hundreds of other drugs out there, and the human body processes them all differently. This creates many hurdles when it comes to proving that drug use caused a car crash, and drugged drivers and their insurance companies exploit all of these challenges to defend against liability claims after a crash.
Below, we’ve listed three of the practical issues that make drugged driving claims more challenging to prove than DUI cases and other auto accident claims.
- There Are Hundreds of Drugs That Can Impair Your Driving
Hundreds of drugs exist that can impair your driving abilities, including both legal and illegal substances. And many drugged drivers consume multiple drugs in combination, often with alcohol. These combinations can have unpredictable results, and it can be difficult to identify each drug and establish how the various drugs interacted with each other.
- Drugged Driving Is Difficult to Identify
In Texas, there isn’t a “legal limit” for drug use like there is with alcohol, and police officers don’t have a simple “breathalyzer”-style tool to identify drug impairment on the spot. Instead, police officers must detect that a driver is under the influence of drugs, arrest him or her, and order blood and urine testing.The potential problems with this process start at the beginning, as many officers lack sufficient training to properly detect drugged drivers. And even if officers suspect someone was driving while high, it can be difficult to prove. The body processes some drugs quickly, which can lead to negative drug test results even though the user is still under the drug’s influence.
- Juror Attitudes Can Impact Your Drugged Driving Claim
Juries sometimes struggle with the nuances of a drugged driving case, especially if the substance was a prescription medication or “just marijuana.” Shifting public attitudes toward marijuana have created a climate of tolerance toward marijuana use in a wide variety of situations. Unless you present a well-constructed and thoroughly-investigated claim, some jurors might rationalize the driver’s decision to operate a vehicle under the influence of marijuana, which will hurt your chances of achieving a favorable verdict.
Do You Need a Personal Injury Lawyer After a Drugged Driving Crash?
After a serious car wreck, your first priority should be to ensure your personal safety, which includes calling 911 and seeking medical attention right away. If the other driver was operating their vehicle erratically and you suspect drugged driving, make sure you report this to law enforcement immediately. Hopefully, the authorities will assess the driver’s sobriety and order a drug test if needed.
RELATED CLIENT STORY: Settlement Reached in Lawsuit Against Driver Intoxicated on Hallucinogenic Mushrooms
If you or a loved one suffered injuries because of a drugged driver’s negligence, it’s in your best interest to consult a lawyer. It can be difficult to prove someone was driving while high without a skilled lawyer and expert witnesses who can interpret toxicology reports, reconstruct accidents, and explain the complexities of drug-related intoxication and drug interactions to a jury. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the crash, your lawyer might also decide to push for punitive damages.
RELATED CLIENT STORY AND VIDEO: Passenger Pursues Lawsuit Against Driver and Gets Settlements
Crosley Law has handled many cases involving drivers who were impaired from drug use. For example, Attorney Tom Crosley represented a bicyclist who was seriously hurt by a reckless truck driver. The truck driver underwent a mandatory post-accident drug test that came back positive for cocaine. That drug test—along with skilled legal representation—convinced the trucking company to settle the claim.
In another case, a woman caused a collision that killed another driver. Crosley Law Firm represented the family of the deceased driver. We were able to prove from toxicology records that the at-fault driver had a high dose of opiate painkillers in her system—and that this was the likely reason for the crash. This type of information was not obtained during the police investigation and only came to light through our firm’s handling of the case.
Crosley Law Firm Fights for San Antonio Drugged Driving Accident Victims
At Crosley Law Firm, we apply cutting-edge technology and techniques to investigate and develop our clients’ personal injury claims. If a drugged driver injured you or someone you love by causing a car crash, contact us for a free, no-risk consultation. You can either complete our simple online form or call us at 210-LAW-3000 | 210-529-3000.
Hedlund, J. (2017, April). Drug-impaired driving: a guide for states. Washington, D.C.: Governors Highway Safety Association. Retrieved from https://www.ghsa.org/sites/default/files/2017-07/GHSA_DruggedDriving2017_FINAL_revised.pdf.
Ramsey, R. (2017, February 21). UT/TT poll: support for marijuana growing like a weed in Texas. The Texas Tribune. Retrieved from https://www.texastribune.org/2017/02/21/uttt-poll-support-marijuana-growing-weed-texas/.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.