Drugged Driving Accident Injury Lawyers in Federal Way & Tacoma
Any accident involving a serious injury is a concerning time for a victim and the family.
When the accident was the fault of a drugged driver, the victim and loved ones have every reason to feel even more aggrieved.
Drugged driving accidents in the Federal Way and Tacoma regions are more common than most people think – and they often result in serious injury.
Accidents can happen as a result of recreational drug usage or the side effects of prescription medications, both of which can cause driving impairment.
If you’ve been injured in a drugged driving accident, the personal injury lawyers at Park Chenaur can help you claim compensation to aid your recovery and allow you to move on with your life.
What damages can drugged driving injury victims claim in Washington?
According to the laws of Washington State, victims of drugged driving accident injuries can claim for both economic and non-economic losses.
The economic damages may include:
- Medical expenses – including the past, present, and future costs of medical treatment received (you must keep copies of all doctor reports and retain receipts to ensure you are fully compensated).
- Lost income – you can receive compensation for any time missed from work. If you are unable to return to perform your job as before the accident, you may be compensated for these permanent changes.
- Property damage – if damage was done to your personal property in the accident, this can be reimbursed.
- Out-of-pocket expenses – this could include the costs of physical therapy, alternative medicine, travel expenses, etc.
The main non-economic damage is the pain and suffering caused. This may include the physical pain endured from the injuries as well as the emotional pain and suffering.
You may also be able to claim for the loss of quality of life in the case of a permanent or semi-permanent injury.
Marijuana drugged driving accidents in Federal Way & Tacoma
Since recreational marijuana was legalized in Washington State in 2012 (the first state in the U.S. to do so), the number of drugged driving accidents involving marijuana users has increased.
In fact, according to a report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the percentage of drivers under the influence of marijuana involved in fatal car accidents more than doubled after legalization.
Another alarming statistic from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is that in 2016 “drugs were present in 43% of the fatally-injured drivers with a known test result, more frequently than alcohol was present.”
It seems that marijuana use by drivers has increased markedly since legalization – an unintended and dangerous consequence of the decision.
There is little debate about the effects of marijuana usage on driving: it can cause impairment by slowing reaction time and decreasing coordination in much the same way as alcohol does.
How do police officers handle marijuana drugged driving cases?
Because of the serious impact that marijuana usage has had on the roads in Washington, there is a police crackdown in place to deter marijuana users from driving.
This has meant:
- More impaired driving arrests
- More DUI courts
- An improved prosecution process
- The promotion of ignition interlock devices (IIDs) to deter impaired drivers from driving
Detecting drivers under the influence of marijuana can be challenging for untrained police officers. There is no breathalyzer test to refer to, so police officers must follow other procedures if they suspect marijuana usage from a driver.
For the case to hold up in court, it is not enough for police officers to smell pot in your vehicle. The prosecution will have to show the results of field sobriety tests and then back this up with a chemical test performed at the police station.
If you are stopped on suspicion of impaired driving and suspected of being under the influence of marijuana, Washington police officers will perform a series of simple physical and mental exercises to determine if you can safely drive.
The three most common field sobriety tests are:
- Horizontal gaze nystagmus test
You will be asked to follow an object (like a pen or finger) while a police officer checks your eyes for involuntary twitch movements, which are common in people under the influence.
- Walk and turn test
You will be asked to walk in a straight line, turn on one foot, and walk in the opposite direction. The police officer will observe your ability to follow instructions, perform a physical activity, and maintain balance.
- One-leg stand test
This test also checks if you can follow instructions and maintain balance while doing a physical task. If you hop around or are unable to maintain a good balance while performing this test, you may be arrested on suspicion of impairment.
Medication and its impact on driving ability
Most people assume that over-the-counter (OTC) medications must be safe and they won’t affect driving ability. However, OTCs can be just as harmful as prescription medication if not taken responsibly.
Drivers should take particular care when taking medication for:
- Pain (opioid or codeine-based painkillers)
- Common cold
Care should be taken with any drug containing stimulants such as caffeine, ephedrine, pseudoephedrine and any muscle relaxants or sedatives. These substances can slow reaction times, cause drowsiness, or otherwise make it dangerous to drive.
The body’s response to different drugs varies from person to person. Drivers should read medication labels carefully and observe their own response to taking the medication before getting behind the wheel of a vehicle.