California legalized recreational marijuana in 2016 and in 2018 approved the sale of recreational marijuana at retail locations. While most states have changed their laws regarding marijuana, there are no states that allow driving while impaired by marijuana.
These laws won’t mean much if you’re the victim of an accident caused by someone driving while under the influence of a drug. You can be left facing serious injuries when a driver who is high makes a dangerous maneuver that causes a collision.
Marijuana and Driving Don’t Mix
It is well proven that marijuana use does affect drivers behind the wheel. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) cited 60 different studies that showed attentiveness, vigilance, perception of time and speed, and use of acquired knowledge are all affected by marijuana use.
The NHTSA found the effect of marijuana is strongest during the first 30 minutes after consumption. People who drive immediately after using marijuana may increase their risk of causing a crash by 25 to 35 percent. And these effects can be delayed if the marijuana is ingested rather than smoked.
Being High and Behind the Wheel
Of course, not every DUI driver is under the influence of just one drug. Researchers find that mixing alcohol and marijuana is a dangerous idea. The combination can impair a driver much worse than if he or she had taken the same amounts of just one of the drugs.
The effects of usage on drivers in an accident are hard to measure because unlike alcohol, the THC concentration level in the blood does not correlate with driver impairment. There are no set limits on how much marijuana ingestion makes a driver legally impaired. The determination can fall to the officer on the scene and their observations of the suspect.
Common Injuries in Marijuana DUI Accidents
The bottom line is that a driver can use marijuana in a legal manner under California law but still be convicted of DUI if they get behind the wheel. That driver’s negligence can lead to an accident on the road. You could be the victim of a high driver and find yourself with injuries that mean a lengthy and painful recovery.
Because drivers under the influence of a drug are often unable to react to an impending accident, they can fail to hit the brakes or do something else to lessen the impact in a crash. That failure can lead to much more severe injuries. These are just some of the possibilities:
- Traumatic brain injuries: From severe concussions to brain damage, head injuries can be devastating.
- Neck injuries: Thoracic Spine Injury (whiplash) disc nerve and ligament damage that can be debilitating and painful.
- Mid and lower back injuries: Lumbar injuries, lower back, sciatica, disc damage can all come from a back injury.
- Fractures: From hairline to compound, fractures are common in car accidents and can cause great pain and temporary or permanent disability.
- Soft tissue injuries: muscles, tendons and ligaments, and significant pain with limited range of motion.
Damages after a Marijuana Involved Accident
In the aftermath of a crash, you will see hospital bills add up and you may not even have a chance to pay them because of lost wages from missing work. This is where a claim against the at-fault driver becomes necessary.
The injured person must clearly show the specific hardships this accident caused to get compensation. Those can consist of:
- Past medical bills and medical bills reasonably expected to be incurred in the future
- Past lost earnings and lost earnings reasonably expected to be lost in the future
- Any permanent disfigurement
- Any permanent disability
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of a normal life
- Funeral and burial expenses in the event of a wrongful death
Deadline to File An Accident Claim
A few things that are important to remember. In California, state law gives a victim a two-year deadline to file a claim against the at-fault drivers and their insurance companies.
Also, in a DUI case, the driver that caused your accident will also be facing criminal charges and be involved in a criminal trial. Your claim against the driver will be part of a separate civil case. The civil claim can proceed even if the criminal proceedings aren’t finished.
Contact a Turlock Car Accident Lawyer
While you are allowed two years to file a claim, it is not recommended that you wait until the last minute to file your claim. The more time that passes, the harder it will be to gather evidence and documents to build a strong case. A local accident attorney who is experienced in state law can be of great help when you attempt to get compensation for your financial and emotional hardships after a tragic accident.
After an accident involving a serious injury, speak to an experienced Turlock car accident lawyer such as Martin Gasparian for a free consultation and case evaluation. Mr. Gasparian takes a hands-on approach to every case. He believes that every client should work directly with their lawyer, get honest advice, and personalized attention to detail their case deserves.