- October 3, 2023
- Strong Law
- Car Accidents
The ongoing nationwide attention on the opioid crisis in the United States is manifesting in various states, as the incidence of accidents involving impaired drivers using opioids continues to rise. While this multifaceted issue entails numerous complexities, it remains an undeniable fact that many car accidents involve individuals who are prescribed these medications on a daily basis and still choose to get behind the wheel. Determining whether a driver is legally impaired while operating a vehicle under the influence of opioids presents unique challenges, irrespective of whether the usage is lawful or unauthorized. The legal distinction between opioid use for some and its illegality for others poses a significant hurdle for law enforcement officials, and it is increasingly impacting those who suffer injuries in accidents caused by drivers testing positive for opioids. These cases can be highly intricate, necessitating thorough investigation by a skilled car accident attorney to ensure proper compensation recovery.
Can’t Determine if They are Impaired
The issue of “at fault” drivers being under the influence of opioids is often overlooked due to the lack of visible signs like the smell of alcohol or marijuana. This poses a significant problem in states that follow fault law and modified comparative negligence when dealing with auto accidents. It has become increasingly evident that this behavior has persisted for decades, as individuals prescribed opioids as part of their daily regimen continue to drive as if they are not medicated. Referred to as drugged driving, the exact number of fatal accidents caused by this issue is unknown. Typically, the knowledge of a negligent driver being on opioids only emerges during a full trial when the driver is under oath, potentially denying compensation to victims of such accidents.
Injured plaintiffs bear the responsibility of establishing that the opposing driver’s negligence caused their accident. In claims seeking full compensation, the level of intoxication becomes crucial, as those found to be under the influence may face punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages. Furthermore, in cases involving truck drivers who may have been medicated at the time of a serious or fatal accident, the liability may extend to the trucking companies as well as the driver.
Drivers who are not prescribed medications are often not subjected to testing due to their lack of outward signs of impairment. Even when testing is conducted, navigating the legal aspects can be challenging. Therefore, it is imperative that a car accident attorney immediately request blood testing as a priority. In fact, it is essential to contact an attorney promptly following any serious accident, regardless of the information available in the official accident report.
Determining if a driver was impaired due to opioid use poses another challenge when it comes to court-approved latency testing. Unlike alcohol testing, which can be mechanically performed and is clearly defined by state legislation, measuring the concentration of opioids in a driver’s system is still an imperfect science. While traces of opioids can remain present in the body for three to five days, there is no legal standard to determine the immediate concentration at the time of a crash. This lack of clarity gives rise to counterclaims that are difficult to substantiate, as even the mere presence of opioids may not necessarily indicate impairment. In such cases, it becomes crucial for accident victims to have the support of a car accident attorney who is committed to providing comprehensive and diligent representation. This is especially true when seeking full compensation, including punitive damages, in cases involving serious or fatal accidents.
Contact an Auto Accident Attorney at Strong Law
Anyone in who thinks they have been injured by a driver under the influence of opioids should call our law offices today at any of our convenient locations and get a free consultation.