Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is not only illegal, but the intoxicating effects of these substances can make driving a motor vehicle unsafe, putting others who share the road with these drivers at serious risk of accidents. In the event that you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligence of a driver who was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it is important to consult with a drunk driving accident lawyer.

However, when it comes to these types of crashes, how common are they?

In the below blog post, we will go over this issue in more detail, provide you with the stats you need to know regarding drug-impaired driving accidents, and also explain how an experienced car accident attorney can help you fight for the financial recovery you deserve if you suffered harm or losses because of a drug-impaired driving accident.

Drug-Impaired Driving: By the Numbers

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in just one year, it was discovered that 13.5 million people aged 16 years or older drove under the influence of alcohol, and 11.7 million drove under the influence of illicit drugs.

Sadly, these shocking stats do not end there.

In addition, studies further show that:

  • In one year, seven million Americans reported driving under the influence of marijuana.
  • Men are more likely than women to operate their vehicles under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Adults aged 21 to 25 have a higher percentage of driving after taking drugs or drinking than young adults aged 16 to 20 years old.
  • Alcohol and marijuana are the two most commonly reported substances involved in impaired driving.
  • Approximately one in eight high school student drivers reported driving after using marijuana at least once in a car the past month.
  • Around 56 percent of drivers involved in a serious injury or deadly crash tested positive for at least one drug.
  • A study of college students who had access to a motor vehicle found that one in six had driven under the influence of a drug other than alcohol at least once in the past year. Marijuana was the most common drug used, followed by prescription pain relievers and cocaine.
  • Almost 19.7 percent of drivers who operated their vehicle under the influence of a drug tested positive for some type of opioid

How Often Does a Drug-Impaired Driving Crash Happen?

Unfortunately, while the statistics tend to paint a grim picture regarding drug-impaired driving, they cannot tell us exactly how often drug-impaired driving results in a traffic accident because:

  • There is no reliable roadside drug-level test yet, such as a breathalyzer for alcohol.
  • Some drugs can stay in the body for weeks after use, so we don’t always know if that drug impaired a driver and caused a car accident.
  • Police officers do not generally test for drugs if a motorist has an illegal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level because they already have enough evidence to charge the motorist for driving under the influence (DUI).
  • Motorists who cause an accident may have both alcohol and drugs in their system or multiple drugs, which makes it harder to figure out which substance had the more significant effect on their driving.

That is why if you suffered an injury in an accident and you are not sure whether it was because the other driver was operating their vehicle while under the influence of drugs, consider discussing the accident with an experienced car accident lawyer. These legal professionals can go over the situation with you in detail, determine the cause of the crash and who was responsible for it, and help you fight for the justice and money you need after this tragic collision.

What Does Drug-Impaired Driving Mean?

Drug-impaired driving refers to the act of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of an impairing substance, which can include marijuana, prescription medications like antidepressants and opioids, hallucinogens, methamphetamine, and over-the-counter medications like allergy medicines and sleep aids.

How Marijuana Use Affects Driving

The delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) contained in marijuana is a mind-altering compound that can affect areas of the brain that control balance, coordination, judgment, memory, and body movements. This drug can also cause memory loss, distort perception, and make it more challenging to problem-solve. In terms of driving, THC can not only slow reaction time, but it can also reduce people’s ability to make sound decisions.

While studies show that the risk of being involved in a motor vehicle crash increases after marijuana use, the marijuana-specific contribution related to crashes is unclear, especially since the substance can be detected in the body for days or even weeks after use. Consequently, determining if the substances contributed to an accident may be challenging. However, in general, research continues to show that marijuana use can impair the important skills required for safe driving.

Using Multiple Substances While Operating a Motor Vehicle

When drivers use more than one drug together, it can make operating a motor vehicle incredibly dangerous. Studies have shown that combining multiple substances, such as marijuana and alcohol, can increase impairment and lead to deadly accidents.

Other Types of Substances

The effects of a specific drug on driving skills will depend on how the drug impacts the brain.

For instance:

  • Motorists who use cocaine or methamphetamine can be aggressive and reckless when operating their vehicles.
  • Motorists taking certain prescription medicines, including benzodiazepines and opioids, can experience dizziness, drowsiness, and impaired cognitive functioning.

However, the bottom line is that all of these substances can lead to devastating motor vehicle accidents, resulting in catastrophic injuries and even death.

The Type of Accidents That Can Result From Drug-Impaired Driving

Due to the nature of drug-impaired driving, numerous accidents can result from taking these substances, including:

  • Rear-end crashes
  • T-bone accidents
  • Head-on collisions
  • Sideswipe collisions
  • Wrong way accidents

In addition, these crashes can also lead to countless injuries, which in many cases can be catastrophic and include life-changing consequences.

Yet, while these injuries will tend to depend on the circumstances of the collision, some of the more common injuries resulting from a drug-impaired driving accident include:

  • Back and neck injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Permanent disfigurement, including facial injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Internal organ damage
  • Internal bleeding
  • Loss of vision, hearing, or cognitive function
  • Burns and smoke inhalation
  • Death

These injuries can also lead to astronomical medical expenses that can forever impact a victim and their loved ones financially. That is why following an impaired driving accident, consider speaking with an experienced car accident attorney as soon as you can to find out what legal options you have after these types of accidents, the financial remedies you can pursue, and the legal action you should take next to go after the money you need.

Pursuing Financial Damages After a Drug-Impaired Driving Accident

If you were harmed in an accident due to a drug-impaired driver, you may pursue compensation for the damages and losses you endured. We can break down compensation into these damages:

Economic Damages

These damages refer to payment for the actual losses that result after an accident, such as:

  • Medical bills related to doctor visits, hospitalization, ambulance rides, emergency room visits, medical devices, surgeries, and prescription medications
  • Ongoing medical treatments
  • Lost income, business opportunities, and lost earning capacity from not being able to work after the accident
  • Personal property damages, such as replacement services and repair costs for your motor vehicle
  • At-home nursing care
  • Expenses related to domestic replacement services (child care, cleaning services, or other things you can no longer do)

Non-Economic Damages

These damages refer to payment for the subjective losses that develop following an accident.

These losses are usually hard to quantify and tend to include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of companionship
  • Limb loss
  • Scarring and permanent disfigurement
  • Humiliation and inconvenience because of the injuries that resulted

Punitive Damages

Courts may award punitive damages to punish the wrongful party for their atrocious actions and deter other individuals from committing the same act.

You may obtain punitive damages following a drug-impaired driving accident, especially if the at-fault driver used an illegal substance before the collision. In addition, a motorist with a history of drugged driving convictions may increase the chances of securing these damages.

However, to know which damages you can pursue after a drug-impaired driving accident, discuss the case with an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer can review your losses and the defendant’s actions that caused the accident and figure out which damages you may pursue.

Time Limitations Involved With Filling a Drug-Impaired Driving Accident Legal Claim

While you may pursue legal action after a drug-impaired driving accident, you have to remember that the time you have to pursue legal action is limited. According to the statute of limitations, each state sets a deadline for individuals to bring a lawsuit following an alleged incident. If you do not bring a suit within this time, the court can stop you from going after the money you need.

Do not miss out on your opportunity to pursue a lawsuit following a drug-impaired driving accident. Discuss your case with an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer can review the laws related to these case timelines, determine how much time you have to take legal action, and prepare and file your cases before time expires.

Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney Following a Drug-Impaired Crash and Learn More About Your Options

If you or a loved one suffered harm because of a drug-impaired crash, you may have legal options available to you that can help you hold the wrongful party accountable for the injuries and losses you suffered and go after the compensation you deserve. More importantly, with an experienced car accident attorney, you will not have to fight for this compensation alone.

Instead, after you hire these lawyers to take on your case, they can:

  • Review the facts of your crash, determine if you have a valid legal claim, and determine what legal action you can take next.
  • Go over your questions and concerns regarding the process and provide you with the legal support you may need during this challenging time.
  • Investigate your collision, determine if the accident was a drug-impaired crash, and secure evidence that can help prove liability.
  • Hire certain types of experts to help validate your cases, such as doctors, engineers, economists, and accident reconstructionist specialists.
  • Figure out the extent of your damages, and help you fight for the reasonable amount you deserve.
  • Take on the settlement negotiations and go after a just offer.
  • Head before a jury or judge and fight for maximum monetary damages, especially if the other side of the insurance company is not willing to get you the money you need.

For more information regarding drug-impaired driving and your legal options, contact an experienced personal injury attorney in San Diego today for a free case evaluation and learn how a legal professional can help you go after the financial recovery and justice you deserve.

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