While drowsy driving can be just as dangerous, driving under the influence of narcotics—even legal ones—is a major risk factor for collisions that result in serious injuries or wrongful death. Even if criminal charges are brought against the drugged driver, you still need to talk to a civil personal injury attorney to safeguard your financial recovery. A sentence of jail time or mandatory substance abuse counseling for the negligent party won’t help pay your bills while you’re dealing with massive life changes brought on by your injuries.
Safety Hazards of Drugged Driving on Virginia Roads
What specifically counts as “drugged” driving can cover an extremely wide range of impairments depending on what kind of substance the driver ingested. Powerful painkillers, for instance, are perfectly fine to use when sitting on the couch and watching TV—but can cause serious problems when getting behind the wheel of a car.
Sedatives often lead to extreme lethargy, while opiates can bring confusion alongside their euphoric effects, and illicit substances have the possibility to create hallucinations or paranoia. Whether taking illegal hard drugs or utilizing prescription medication meant to treat an illness, drug usage may cause:
- Changed perception of distance and time
- Hand-eye coordination difficulties
- Impaired reaction speed
- Poor judgment and lack of inhibition that leads to road rage incidents
- Sensitivity to lights and sounds
- Slowed thought processes
- Vision impairment
Obviously, these impairments are a safety hazard to anyone else on the road. Frequent accident types caused by drugged driving on Virginia streets and highways include:
- Commercial trucks jackknifing or rolling over
- Head-on collisions
- Rear-end crashes
- Pedestrians or bicyclists directly struck by a vehicle
- T-bone accidents
These major accident types are likely to bring about life-altering injuries. Survivors of drugged driving crashes can suffer bone fractures, bruising, lacerations, disfigurement, paralysis, spinal cord or brain trauma, and even long-term mobility and pain issues. Those health changes are likely to interfere with your ability to work and earn a paycheck while medical bills pile up quickly.
What to Do After a Drugged Driving Accident
A negligent driver who endangers others on the road can be legally liable for your physical and emotional damages, even if the drugs they took weren’t specifically illegal. When prescribed by a doctor, there are many legal medications that may interfere with your ability to properly navigate roads—especially if they are mixed with alcohol or marijuana.
Although both medical and recreational legalization has arrived in an increasing number of states, including Virginia, driving under the influence of marijuana remains illegal. The bottom line is that you need to talk to an attorney if you suspect the at-fault driver was operating a vehicle while under the influence of:
- Alcohol, especially when combined with over-the-counter, prescription, or illegal drugs
- Illicit drugs
- Prescription medication
In order to show that the other driver owes you compensation for your injuries, you have to prove they were actually under the influence of drugs at the time of the crash. That’s where an attorney becomes an invaluable resource in protecting yourself legally. A personal injury attorney’s job is to perform an in-depth investigation, prove who was responsible for your injury, and show what damages they owe you.
Because of the difficulty in proving drug usage, it’s important to report your suspicions to law enforcement and first responders when they arrive at the scene of your accident. If they don’t smell alcohol, the officers may not request a breathalyzer or blood test at all. Even when a DUI is given for failing an alcohol sobriety test, the officers on the scene may not request a blood test for the presence of other drugs that could impact an insurance settlement or court case.
Having as much evidence as possible available is critical to negotiating with insurance or presenting a compelling case in court against the drugged driver. For the best chance at recovering compensation, always take these steps at the scene:
- Avoid interacting with the other driver, especially if they are exhibiting erratic or angry behavior that may be drug-related
- Put together as much evidence as possible by taking photos and videos, as well as gathering contact info for anyone who saw the drugged driver’s behavior
- See a doctor as soon as possible to document your injuries
- Talk to a personal injury lawyer with experience in your specific type of accident and injury
You Need a Reliable Attorney If You Were Hit by a Drugged Driver
Anyone who has dealt with a serious car crash probably knows to expect extensive medical bills, especially if you suffered a traumatic brain injury or spinal cord damage, but many victims don’t realize just how much the accident will affect your family financially.
Even if you can eventually return to work and go back to normal physical activity, the long-term emotional effects are often considerable and can get in the way of enjoying everyday activity. By working alongside an attorney, you can seek compensation covering:
- Costs for your emergency room trip and initial treatment
- Ongoing medical bills for future surgeries, medications, and therapies
- Property damage to your vehicle in the drugged driving crash
- Non-economic damages stemming from the injury like anxiety, depression, PTSD, pain and suffering, and loss of qualify of life
- Wages, both missed while recovering from the accident and potential losses in the future