What If I Am Hit By A High Driver?

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Driving is already dangerous, but this danger is increased when people get behind the wheel while high, often from the inappropriate use of marijuana or prescription drugs. Like those who drive while under the influence of alcohol, drivers who are high pose a significant risk to themselves and others on the road.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident by a driver who was high, an experienced Austin car accident lawyer may be able to help you seek compensation for your damages or loss.

Drugged Driving vs. Drunk Driving

While much of the focus on impaired driving is on drunk driving, the percentage of car accidents involving a driver who was high has continued to increase in recent years, especially in states where marijuana was legalized. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drugs other than alcohol are a contributing factor in about 18 percent of all vehicle crashes. These drugs include illegal drugs such as marijuana, as well as prescription and over-the-counter medications.
Similar to drunk driving, driving while high can cause slowed reaction times, reckless driving, impaired cognitive function, and similar factors involved in many car accidents.

Regarding marijuana use and driving, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reported that that marijuana “significantly impairs judgment, motor coordination, and reaction time.” The report also noted studies showing a “direct relationship between blood THC concentration and impaired driving ability.”

As more states continue to legalize marijuana, the possibility and prevalence of drugged driving will likely increase despite the fact that driving while high continues to be illegal in all 50 states along with driving drunk. Indeed, Texas Penal Code Section 49.01 prohibits operating a motor vehicle in a public place while not having the “normal use” of physical or mental facilities as a result of substances introduced into the body, with these intoxicating substances not only including alcohol, but also “a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance.”

Standards of Proof

Proving that the other driver was high at the time of the accident is often much harder than with drunk drivers. Even in its studies of drugged driving, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has struggled to differentiate between marijuana use and marijuana impairment. The NHTSA uses a standard of “any detectable amount” which is often vague and statistically low bar in relation to the specific and more easily identifiable standard of a .08 blood alcohol content measurement for drunk driving.

Victims of car accidents often have even more difficulty proving that even if the other driver has drugs in their system, that those drugs actually caused impairment and led to the accident. As a result, it is important to speak to an experienced attorney and learn what steps to take if you are involved in a car accident caused by a driver who was high.

What to Do If You Suspect the Other Driver Was High

Proving that the other driver was high at the time of the accident is often much more difficult than proving that they were drunk, because of the advanced nature of the tests generally required, unless there are any confessions made by the impaired driver that may be sufficient to prove the driver’s drug use and impaired driving.

Police often may not initially suspect drug use or arrest the driver for driving under the influence of drugs because of the complicated process of identifying and proving such drugged driving. To establish the impaired condition of the driver at the time of the accident, your car accident lawyer will often need to examine various medical records, any police reports, as well as test results and toxicology reports of the impaired driver in order to successfully establish that the other driver was high at the time of your accident and should be held liable for your damages.

If the police did not order any tests at the time of the accident, it may be crucial that your lawyer quickly begin an investigation to gather evidence proving that the driver was impaired. Thus, if you have been involved in a car accident and you suspect the other driver may have been high, you should immediately contact an Austin car accident attorney and allow them to begin an investigation into the accident and gather evidence proving the driver’s drugged driving.

Certain factors that could indicate the opposing driver was high include possession of drugs at the time of the accident, a smell of marijuana in their vehicle, evidence of recent drug use such as bloodshot eyes, slowed motor skills, or similar symptoms.

Consequences to a Driver for Being High

If police determine that the other driver was high at the time of your accident, that driver will often face serious legal ramifications aside from any claim that you may bring to recover for your damages or losses. Texas treats driving while high similarly to drunk driving, as both are considered as driving while intoxicated.

To prove the other driver of intoxicated driving will require establishing that the driver was operating a vehicle in a public place in Texas, while the driver did not have normal use of physical or mental facilities as the result of substances, such as legal or illegal drugs, introduced into the driver’s body.

If the other driver was high at the time of your accident, this could weigh heavily in your favor if your attorney is able to prove that the driver was both high and that the driver’s impairment caused or contributed to causing the car accident. Drivers who were high at the time of the accident as well as their insurers may be held liable for any damages or losses you incurred as a result of the car accident, even if you were only a passenger in the vehicle with the impaired driver or in the vehicle struck by the impaired driver.

Additionally, if the other driver was high, you may also be able to recover punitive damages in some limited cases if the drug use and resulting impairment constituted gross or exceptional negligence by the impaired driver.

To prove the other driver of intoxicated driving will require establishing that the driver was operating a vehicle in a public place in Texas, while the driver did not have normal use of physical or mental facilities as the result of substances, such as legal or illegal drugs, introduced into the driver’s body.

If the other driver was high at the time of your accident, this could weigh heavily in your favor if your attorney is able to prove that the driver was both high and that the driver’s impairment caused or contributed to causing the car accident. Drivers who were high at the time of the accident, as well as their insurers, may be held liable for any damages or losses you incurred as a result of the car accident, even if you were only a passenger in the vehicle with the impaired driver or in the vehicle struck by the impaired driver.

Additionally, if the other driver was high, you may also be able to recover punitive damages in some limited cases if the drug use and resulting impairment constituted gross or exceptional negligence by the impaired driver.

Filing an Accident Claim

1. Contact an Austin Car Accident Attorney

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident and the other driver may have been high, you should contact an experienced Austin car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer can help you seek the compensation you may be entitled to by guiding you through the legal process, investigating your accident, and potentially proving that the other driver was under the influence of drugs and caused your car accident.

2. Investigation

After you hire an Austin car accident attorney, your lawyer will begin investigating the potential causes of your accident as well as whether the other driver may have been driving under the influence of drugs such as marijuana or prescription medication. Your attorney will talk to any witnesses, examine the scene of the accident, and gather any other evidence to help prove the liability of the impaired driver and seek any compensation you may be able to recover.

3. Negotiation

Next, your attorney will present your claim to the impaired driver, the opposing attorney, or the insurer, including an offer to settle your claim for a specified amount compensating you for your damages and losses. The opposing party or insurer will then generally make counteroffers and negotiate with your lawyer to see if both sides are able to come to an agreement and avoid trial.

4. Trial

However, if the negotiation is unsuccessful, your case may have to go to trial. Your Austin car accident lawyer will then go to court and try to prove that the other driver was high at the time of the car accident and is therefore liable for your damages because the accident was caused by the impaired driver’s negligence.

How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help My Case?

If you have been involved in a car accident caused by a driver who was high at the time of the accident, an Austin personal injury attorney can help you seek the compensation you may be entitled to. Specifically, your lawyer can help you negotiate with opposing parties and insurers to ensure that you are not taken advantage of, especially by the insurance company’s lawyers who care only about minimizing the insurer’s costs. An experienced personal injury lawyer will know how to negotiate with these parties as well as how to properly investigate and take your case to trial if necessary.

Police officers often have difficulty identifying drugged driving, as opposed to drunk driving. While officers can easily administer field sobriety tests or breathalyzer tests to determine if someone is drunk, identifying a drugged driver often requires additional steps, such as having to arrest the driver and then submit them to a blood or urine test at the hospital. If the police did not identify the driver who caused your accident as being high at the time of the accident, your lawyer may have to act quickly and seek a court order requiring the driver to submit to drug testing.

Proving the other driver was high at the time of the accident is generally crucial for proving their liability for the car accident absent more obvious signs of negligence such as running a stop sign or red light or driving in the wrong lane. As a result, you should contact an Austin personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after your accident so that your lawyer can immediately begin an investigation into your claim and advise you of your options.

GET HELP FROM EXPERIENCED AUSTIN CAR ACCIDENT LAWYERS

If you or a loved one has been injured by an intoxicated driver, the Austin car accident attorneys at Zinda Law Group have the knowledge and resources necessary to help you seek maximum compensation for damages.
We are an Austin personal injury law firm that has helped numerous victims get their lives back on track after a wreck, and we can handle the entire legal process for you while you focus on what is most important: your recovery.

Call us today at (888) 671-5127 to receive a 100% free consultation with one of our Austin driving accident lawyers.

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