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Is Legalized Marijuana Causing More Car Accidents?

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Many states have passed laws or ballot measures legalizing the use of recreational marijuana. Even more states have legalized medical-use marijuana for certain approved conditions to help patients cope. 

However, marijuana is still a drug that can alter the workings of your brain, potentially slowing down your reaction time. Driving while high can create a deadly combination, increasing the risk of a car accident.

IIHS Study

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently released a new study showing that car accident rates spiked in states where recreational marijuana use was legalized. Rates of accidents did settle, but a clear spike occurred shortly after legalization in every state that was studied. 

However, a separate IIHS study found that for people admitted to the emergency room after a car accident, they were no more likely to have traces of marijuana in their system. A similar study of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) confirms similar results.

Yet, the most recent IIHS study shows a clear link between states that have recently legalized recreational marijuana use and increased car accidents. This may be caused by people trying marijuana for the first time and not realizing the effect it may have on their bodies. They then get behind the wheel when they should not.

Marijuana can also delay your reaction time. Therefore, if you are an inexperienced marijuana user or driver, you may not realize that your reaction time is delayed, leading to an increased likelihood of causing an accident. If a car cuts you off, for example, you may not react in time to hit the brakes before colliding with another vehicle.

Another reason for a spike in car accidents after a state legalizes marijuana is that people are not changing their other behaviors. For example, they still drink alcohol at the same rates. Combining alcohol and marijuana can increase the chances of getting into a car accident because of delayed reaction times. Above all, diligence on the road can help prevent accidents, no matter where you are driving.

Determining the Cause of Your Accident

If you were injured in a car accident, determining the cause of the accident is crucial to make sure that you attempt to collect compensation from the person who caused your accident. This information is key because you need to prove certain elements:

  • The other driver owed you a duty of care to drive safely and not under the influence of drugs or medication.
  • The other driver breached that duty of care by driving under the influence of marijuana.
  • Because of the other driver’s decision to drive under the influence of marijuana, an accident happened.
  • You suffered injuries in the accident.

As someone involved in a car accident, this may seem obvious to you. But proving these elements to a legal standard may require a full investigation into the cause of your accident. That is why you need to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible so that your legal team can begin the investigation and determine the precise cause of your accident.

The point of the investigation and determining who caused your car accident is to file a personal injury claim against the negligent party. When you do that, you may be able to collect compensation for your car accident injuries. Your lawyer may try to get you compensation for the following:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Lost income
  • Lost earning potential
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of life enjoyment
  • Present and future medical bills
  • Rehabilitation costs

What many drivers in car accidents fail to realize is just how much it will cost for them to recover from their injuries. Even minor injuries can cause costly medical bills. A simple visit to the emergency room for a full medical evaluation after your accident can run into the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. Your insurance may not cover all of it and, even if it does, it may cause your rates to go up.

Dealing with Insurance Companies

When you file a personal injury claim, you attempt to hold the negligent driver liable for your injuries so that your insurance does not pay your bills; instead, the at-fault driver’s insurance must cover those expenses. However, insurance companies are not thrilled about paying out accident claims, even minor ones. Their goal is to settle your case for as little as possible, as quickly as possible. 

That is why you may receive a call from the negligent driver’s insurance company soon after your accident. They are calling to offer you a quick settlement. Many people injured in a car accident get excited at the prospect of putting this situation behind them and accept the offer without considering how much money they may need to collect to ensure they do not pay a penny out of their own pocket for their recovery. 

Too often, insurance companies prey on those injured by offering them a modest settlement offer. They may even pressure you to take the offer, saying that it is the best offer they can make and that you must take it today or it goes away. They may even tell you that hiring a lawyer will only cut into your settlement proceeds. 

None of this is true. You should also consider why the insurance company is pressuring you so hard to take their first, quick offer. Getting you to take this offer is in their best interest, not yours. 

If you take the initial offer, you cannot go back to the insurance company later and ask for more money if you still have bills to pay. Many people injured in a car accident who take a quick settlement offer find that months or even years later their settlement funds run dry, but they still have medical bills to pay and are unable to work, missing out on income. Unfortunately, once you have signed a settlement offer, you waive your right to bring any future claims against the insurance company for your car accident. That means that you will be responsible for any bills or financial losses related to your accident if your settlement funds dry up before you can cover all your expenses.

Therefore, it is crucial for your ability to collect maximum compensation that you partner with a trusted legal advisor as soon as possible after your car accident. Your legal team can battle with the insurance company on your behalf, attempting to negotiate a reasonable and fair settlement that helps you cover the bills you face. 

They can also help you create an accurate estimate of your future medical needs. Depending on the severity of your car accident injuries, you may have to undergo multiple surgeries and other medical procedures. Using the advice of trusted medical experts who can accurately determine your medical prognosis, you and your legal team can ensure that you target a settlement amount that does not leave you needing to pay out of pocket for your injuries.

Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC, Advocate for Clients in Car Accidents

Many car accidents are caused by human error, which can include marijuana use. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident by a driver you suspect of being under the influence of marijuana, you may have legal options available. The Philadelphia car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC, will advocate for you and protect your rights. Call us today at 215-569-4888 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Abington, and Media, Pennsylvania; Wilmington, Delaware; and Haddonfield, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.