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Marijuana Use and Car Accidents

In recent years, a few states have legalized cannabis for adult recreational use. More have legalized it for medicinal use. Like many other drugs, marijuana negatively impacts an individual’s ability to safely operate a vehicle. While individual opinions on marijuana use differ, the facts about how it affects drivers are clear: An individual who drives shortly after using marijuana is impaired and more likely to cause a fatal collision than a sober driver.

Individuals who are injured in collisions caused by driver negligence are entitled to pursue monetary compensation for their damages through personal injury claims. Through a personal injury claim, an individual can seek compensation for his or her medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering damages related to an injury sustained in a collision. When an individual dies in an accident, his or her loved ones may seek compensation for their damages through a wrongful death claim.

How Marijuana Affects Drivers

Marijuana use can have the following effects on a driver:

  • Slowed reaction time;
  • Impaired judgment;
  • Impaired concentration;
  • Drowsiness;
  • Difficulty maintaining a consistent speed;
  • Reduced motor coordination skills; and
  • Increased ease of distraction.

When an individual consumes alcohol while consuming marijuana, these effects are amplified.

A High Driver is a Negligent Driver

When an individual drives after using any drug that can impair his or her ability to safely operate a vehicle, he or she is negligent. After being involved in a collision, call the local police as soon as you can to have an officer dispatched to the scene. If the officer administers a drug test, which could be a breath test if the driver is suspected of being under the influence of alcohol or a request for a prompt urine or blood test for a suspicion of another substance, the presence of drugs in the driver’s body could be evidence you can use to support your personal injury claim.

One of the difficulties in determining whether a driver was impaired by marijuana when a collision occurred is the lack of a concise test to determine an individual’s impairment level. THC metabolites remain in an individual’s body long after the “high” of using marijuana has worn off, making it difficult to use their presence to gauge an individual’s impairment level at the time of a crash. Still, other facts about a collision, such as testimonies of the impaired driver’s erratic driving and poor control of the vehicle and photographs of the collision scene, can demonstrate how his or her negligence caused the accident to occur.

Work with an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer

If you were injured in a collision with a driver who was under the influence of marijuana, you have the right to pursue monetary compensation for your related damages through a personal injury claim. To start working on your claim with one of the experienced personal injury lawyers on our team, contact Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd today to schedule your initial consultation in our office.

Published March 6, 2018
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