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Car Accidents Caused by Drug Impairment

If you have been hurt in a crash caused by someone who was impaired by drugs, you are not alone.

Drugs other than alcohol are a factor in approximately 18 percent of all motor vehicle driver deaths in the nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Drugs such as marijuana and cocaine are often used in combination with alcohol and may significantly contribute to driver impairment and car accidents.

It’s not just illegal drugs that can lead to a serious crash. Prescription and over-the-counter medications can also affect the ability to drive safely. Driving while impaired by any substance – legal or illegal – may be considered negligence if it leads to a crash.

If you or a loved one has been harmed because someone else made the dangerous decision to drive while under the influence of either legal or illegal drugs, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. You should seek legal advice immediately – before you discuss the matter with an insurance adjuster and before you sign anything.

Let the Kraft & Associates, Attorneys at Law,  P.C, advise you about your rights after a car accident caused by an impaired driver. We’re an established and professional law firm with friendly lawyers and staff who are easy to talk to. Please contact us today.

Drugs Impair Drivers’ Abilities

A report prepared by the Office of National Drug Control Policy highlights the following facts about fatal accidents in which drivers were tested for drugs:

  • 18 percent of all fatally injured drivers tested positive for drugs.
  • 57 percent of all drug-positive driver crashes were single-vehicle accidents.
  • 48 percent of drivers who tested positive for any drug also tested positive for alcohol.
  • Narcotics and cannabinoids (the compound found in marijuana) accounted for almost half of all drug-positive results.
  • Cannabinoids were found in 43 percent of all fatalities under the age of 24 who tested positive for drugs.
  • A higher rate of narcotics and depressants were found in fatally injured drivers over the age of 45.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that use of any psychoactive (mind-altering) drug makes driving unsafe – as well as illegal – and presents a serious risk for drivers, passengers and other motorists on the roadways. The institute reports that, although different drugs have different effects on the brain, they all impair faculties that are needed to operate a vehicle safely.

Faculties impaired by drug use include:

  • Attention
  • Perception
  • Reaction time
  • Judgment
  • Motor skills
  • Balance
  • Coordination

In a study published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) entitled “Drugs and Human Performance Fact Sheets,” 16 drugs were selected for review, including prescription, over-the-counter (OTC) and illegal recreational drugs. Among other factors, each drug was evaluated for its effects on driving ability.

Every drug evaluated in the study was found to impair driving, except LSD, for which the incidence in DUI cases has been extremely rare. The following recreational drugs were determined to substantially impair driving ability:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Methadone
  • Morphine and heroin
  • Methamphetamine and amphetamine
  • Ecstasy (MDMA)
  • PCP

Driver Impairment Caused by Prescription and OTC Drugs

A number of drugs that can be purchased legally, over the counter or by prescription can still trigger DUI charges and impair drivers just as effectively as illicit drugs.

Under Texas Penal Code Section 49.01, intoxication is defined as “not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body.”

Proof of intoxication in Texas consists of establishing the following: 1) that the defendant was operating a motor vehicle in Texas in a public place; and 2) that while operating the motor vehicle, defendant did not have normal use of mental or physical faculties because of the substance(s) introduced into the body.

Common legally obtained drugs with the capacity to impair driving and cause accidents include:

  • Antidepressants
  • Decongestants
  • Valium and other anti-anxiety medications
  • Antihistamines
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin)
  • Sleeping pills

What Damages Can I Recover If Injured by a Driver under the Influence of Drugs?

Drug-impaired drivers and their insurers may be held responsible for all your accident-related losses. This is true even if you were a passenger in a vehicle driven by someone who was impaired by drugs and caused a single-vehicle accident. In other words, you could recover compensation from the driver of the car you were riding in.

The lawyers at Kraft & Associates, P.C., can help you fight for the full compensation you deserve, including:

  • Payment of all related medical bills and rehabilitation costs
  • Replacement of lost wages and compensation for decreased earning capacity due to your injuries
  • Compensation for the pain and suffering you endured because of the crash
  • Compensation for permanent disabilities and disfigurement
  • Money to repair or replace your damaged vehicle, including payment for a rental car while your vehicle is out of commission
  • Punitive damages in cases of exceptional negligence

Because all cases are different, it is impossible to estimate an exact dollar value for your claim. However, our attorneys are prepared to review all of the facts in your case and work with medical, financial and other experts to calculate the full extent of your losses and then fight for full compensation from all available sources of coverage.                                                                                                       

Legal Help for Victims of Drug-Impaired Driving Accidents

A driver who causes an accident by driving under the influence of drugs may be found negligent and liable for the damages that result. At Kraft & Associates, P.C., we work with investigators to determine if drugs were a contributing factor in a crash caused by another driver. Our team can examine medical records, police reports, test results and toxicology to establish the impaired condition and liability of the driver responsible for the crash.

If you have been injured in an auto accident caused by someone who was driving under the influence of drugs, it is important to consult with a knowledgeable accident attorney as soon as possible. Our lawyers have been helping car accident victims in Northern Texas for decades.

We know how to handle car accident cases, and we have helped clients obtain fair compensation for their injuries. Whether your case is settled out of court or we take it to trial, you can rest assured that we have the skills and experience needed to provide you with vigorous representation in your drug-impaired driving auto accident claim.

For a free assessment, contact us today.