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Drugged driving accidents are frightening events that may lead to lifelong consequences. Victims may be permanently incapacitated or left dealing with thousands of dollars in medical bills. Fortunately, there are ways for victims to protect their legal rights after they’ve been injured by an intoxicated driver.
If you have been injured in a car accident caused by a drugged driver and are interested in seeking compensation, or if you would like to learn more about your rights, call the drugged driving accident lawyers at Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 to receive a free case evaluation with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys.
DRUGGED DRIVING ACCIDENT STATISTICS
Drugged driving refers to driving a vehicle while under the influence of recent drug use. Just like drunk driving, drugged driving can put the driver and other motorists and pedestrians in great and unnecessary danger. Listed below are some important statistics regarding drugged driving.
- According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), in 2018, 12.6 million people aged 16 or older drove under the influence of illicit drugs within the year.
- In 2016, 44 percent of drivers in fatal car crashes (with known results) tested positive for drugs.
- In 2016, 7 percent of drivers who drove while under the influence tested positive for some type of opioid.
- According to a 2016 survey by the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, 12 percent of high school seniors reported driving under the influence of marijuana while 9 percent said they’d driven drunk.
HOW DRUGS IMPAIR DRIVING
The body reacts to different drugs in different ways. For instance, some drugs may increase a driver’s aggressiveness, while other drugs have a mellowing effect. The type and severity of reaction often depend on the type of drug consumed, as well as the amount taken. Some of the more common side effects that can impair a person’s ability to drive safely may include:
Many drugs affect a person’s concentration. A loss of concentration, in turn, severely impairs a person’s ability to drive safely. A lapse of concentration, even for just a moment, can lead to devastating consequences.
Prescription drugs such as many antidepressants, cough suppressants, and allergy medications, may lead to drowsiness. Alcohol may also have a sedative effect. When taken improperly, these drugs put drivers at risk of causing automobile accidents after falling asleep at the wheel.
Certain drugs may have a stimulating effect on the user. In some cases, this stimulating effect can lead to problematic aggressiveness. For instance, drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine, or synthetic marijuana (also known as “spice”) can increase a person’s aggressiveness. This aggression, in turn, may lead to road rage or otherwise cause a user to make reckless decisions behind the wheel.
A lot of drugs negatively impact a person’s cognition and decision-making ability. Even small doses of certain drugs can have a major impact on a person’s ability to think clearly. For instance, an intoxicated driver may decide to switch lanes in heavy traffic without considering checking her blind spots.
Slowed Reaction Time
Prescription drugs are also infamous for affecting a person’s reaction time. If a person is intoxicated or under the influence of drugs, his or her ability to react to important events such as the changing of a light from green to yellow to red may be significantly impaired. As a result, that person is at an increased risk of causing or being involved in a car accident.
TYPES OF DRUGGED DRIVING ACCIDENTS
Drugged driving accidents are no different from ordinary car accidents in that they can occur at any time. Listed below are some of the more common types:
One of the most common and devastating types of crash is the head-on collision. This type of accident involves an intoxicated driver driving his or her vehicle directly into another person’s vehicle. Given the head-on nature of this collision, these types of direct-impact accidents often result in serious lifelong injuries or even death.
Because drugged or intoxicated drivers often have slowed reaction times or impaired reflexes, a drugged driver may fail to properly apply his or her brakes in a timely fashion. When this occurs, rear-end collisions are likely to result. Although these types of accidents are often not as devastating as head-on collisions, rear-end collisions may nevertheless result in serious injuries such as whiplash or a lingering spinal injury.
Some crashes may involve damage to a single vehicle. For instance, a drugged driver who loses control of his or her car may flip the car over, resulting in a rollover accident. In addition to putting himself at risk of sustaining a serious injury, a drugged driver who rolls his car over also endangers the lives of innocent bystanders.
A significant portion of drugged driving accidents involve a collision that occurred as a result of the intoxicated driver driving the wrong way. These collisions can be head-on, rear-end collisions, or some other type of T-bone accident. Regardless of the specific type of collision that occurs, wrong-way crashes are very likely to result in serious injury.
Accidents involving pedestrians, cyclists, or other bystanders are also a very common consequence of drugged driving. Drugged drivers put others at serious risk by driving recklessly or erratically, such as by swerving on and off the roadways. Like head-on collisions, accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists can be devastating, often leading to life-changing injuries or death.
COMMON DRUGGED DRIVING ACCIDENT INJURIES
Drugged driving accidents may result in a spectrum of consequences, ranging from minor injury to death. Listed below are some of the more common injuries:
Unfortunately, a significant number of impaired driving accidents result in the death of one or more individuals. Car crashes are most likely to be fatal when the accident involves a head-on collision, a high-speed collision, or an accident where seatbelts were not utilized.
Head and Neck Injuries
A victim of a drugged driving accident is also at risk of sustaining head or neck injuries. For instance, in high-speed collisions, the victim may suffer a concussion or temporary loss of consciousness. Alternatively, a victim may sustain serious neck injuries if the collision results in whiplash, which consists of a sudden back-and-forth jerking of a person’s neck.
Drugged driving accidents may also result in spinal cord and back injuries. Even in minor collisions, a victim is at risk of sustaining a latent injury. In such cases, the victim may feel fine immediately after the accident, but may begin to experience back pain hours or days after the collision occurred. In more severe cases, a victim may suffer a cracked or fractured vertebra.
Cuts, Scarring, and Permanent Disfigurement
Finally, drugged driving accidents can and often do result in severe lacerations, cuts, bruises, or scarring to the victim. During the collision, a driver or passenger may hit a body part against something inside the vehicle. This may result in a serious bruise or laceration. In other incidents, a person may be ejected from the car or otherwise suffer an injury leading to permanent disfigurement of the face or body.
WHAT TO DO AFTER BEING HIT BY A DRUGGED DRIVER
1. Seek Medical Treatment
The first and most important step you should take after being hit by a drugged driver is to seek immediate medical attention. In many cases, injuries will be apparent and medical professionals should be contacted as soon as possible. Other cases may involve latent or delayed injuries, where the victim does not experience pain or symptoms until hours after the accident occurred. Therefore, it is critical that an injured party seek medical attention as soon as possible, regardless of the seemingly minor nature of the accident.
2. Document the Accident
Another critical step to take after being involved in a drugged driving accident is to document the accident by creating and maintaining a complete and thorough record of the incident. This means creating a physical or electronic file where all important documentation relating to the incident is kept. Information that should be stored in this file may include:
- A copy of the police report;
- Name and contact information of the at-fault driver;
- Names and contact information of any witnesses;
- Medical records and medical receipts;
- Photographs of physical injuries; and
- Photographs of property damage
3. Contact an Attorney
Finally, you should contact an experienced drugged driving accident lawyer. In addition to consulting with you regarding your case, an attorney may be able to utilize resources to gather important evidence, which may help strengthen the value of your claim. If necessary, the attorney may also be able to initiate a formal lawsuit against the at-fault driver or the driver’s insurance company.
Learn More: How to Find a Personal Injury Lawyer
HOW TO FILE A DRUGGED DRIVING ACCIDENT CLAIM
After you have consulted with an attorney, the attorney may begin the process of filing a personal injury claim. The lawyer may speak with you in person or over the phone to gather information relating to the facts and circumstances of your accident and resulting injuries. From there, the lawyer may be able to provide helpful legal advice regarding your available options.
The next step in the process is the critical investigation phase. During this phase, your attorney may conduct a thorough investigation into your case to strengthen the value and credibility of your claim. For instance, your attorney may interview witnesses, consult with medical experts, review important documents, and develop a legal strategy. This process may also involve accounting for your damages, such as medical bills, lost wages, and property damage.
2. Negotiation and Settlement
Prior to litigation, you may have the option of accepting a settlement from the at-fault driver or the driver’s insurance company. If a settlement offer is made, your attorney may negotiate the terms of the settlement on your behalf.
If it is not in your best interest to accept a settlement offer, your case may proceed to trial. At trial, your attorney may represent you and your legal rights by advocating on your behalf to establish fault on the part of the other party.
A victim of a drugged driving accident may be able to pursue compensation for injuries and damages sustained. “Damages” is the term used to refer to the monetary compensation which may be awarded to an injured party. The damages that may be awarded to a victim can be divided into economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages refer to quantifiable costs incurred by the accident victim. In such cases, economic damages may include:
- Medical expenses (present and future bills; pharmacy costs, rehabilitation services, etc.);
- Lost income and wages;
- Property damage (vehicle repair costs and personal property damages in the collision); and
- Rental car costs
In general, accidents that result in severe injuries and property damage lead to greater awards of economic damages than relatively minor accidents.
Non-economic damages refer to intangible losses that cannot be quantified but instead are subjectively evaluated by a jury. In drugged driving accident cases, non-economic damages may include:
- Pain and suffering;
- Loss of affection or companionship;
- Emotional distress;
- Disability or disfigurement; and
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
If the at-fault party’s actions were especially reckless, egregious, or intentional, a court may also award the victim punitive damages. Punitive damages are not intended to compensate the victim, but rather to punish the wrongdoer.
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
A “statute of limitations” acts as a time-limit on which a person must initiate a lawsuit. If a victim of a drugged driving accident fails to file a lawsuit within the applicable statute of limitations, the victim may be barred from litigating the claim in court.
Statutes of limitations vary from state to state, with most states having a two or three-year statute of limitations. This means that a claimant must file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver within two or three years of the date of the accident, depending on the law of the state.
In cases of minor children, the statute of limitations may be “tolled,” or extended, until the child reaches the age of majority or until the child is legally emancipated. The child then has two or three years from that date to file a lawsuit.
Because these situations often involve a complex analysis of time frames and relevant dates, you may want to consider consulting with a personal injury or wrongful death attorney. Doing so may help ensure that your lawsuit is properly filed in a timely manner against all necessary parties.
OUR CAR ACCIDENT ATTORNEYS CAN HELP
A car accident can change your life in the blink of an eye and leave you struggling to support yourself and your family. You should not have to worry about affording legal representation, which is why at Zinda Law Group, we offer a No Win, No Fee Guarantee. You don’t owe us anything unless we win your case.
If you or someone you love has been seriously hurt in an auto accident involving a drugged driver, call the car accident attorneys at Zinda Law Group today at (800) 863-5312 to schedule your free consultation with one of our auto accident lawyers.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.