Memphis Drugged Driving Accident Lawyers
Drivers who choose to get behind the wheel of a car while impaired by drugs can’t make safe driving decisions. Slow reaction times or impulsive behaviors can lead drugged drivers to act recklessly, causing accidents that result in property damage, injury, or even death. In 2016, drug-impaired drivers became the number one cause of fatalities in Tennessee traffic accidents, overtaking the number of deaths caused by both drunk driving and distracted driving.
Unlike drunk driving, drugged driving can be difficult to detect since there are no universal standards for drug testing or intoxication. However, drivers under the influence of any substances that hinder their ability to drive may be liable for damages, even if those substances are legal and prescribed. If you or a loved one has been in an accident involving suspected drug use, you may be legally entitled to compensation.
The Gold Law Firm team has represented thousands of Memphis car accident victims and has the skill and experience to help you get the justice and fair compensation you’re owed. We understand that the effects of car accidents can be catastrophic and overwhelming, and the decision to contact an attorney may feel daunting. Our free initial consultation can help you decide whether our services are right for you. Call us today at (901) 244-5003 to get answers.
What Is Drugged Driving?
Tennessee law defines drugged driving as physically controlling a motor vehicle while impaired by the recent influence of any intoxicating drug. Illicit drug use or even prescription drug abuse can limit users’ ability to safely operate automobiles, putting everyone on the road at risk. In recent years, fatal drug-related accidents in Tennessee have involved a range of both illegal substances, such as marijuana and cocaine, and legal drugs like hydrocodone and Xanax. Even small amounts of some of these intoxicants may have major effects on the brain, and various drugs can affect functioning in different ways.
Marijuana, for example, impairs users’ capacity to judge time and distance. Drivers under the influence of marijuana may have slower reaction times, reducing their ability to decelerate or stop safely. General decreases in coordination can also lead to dangerous behaviors like lane weaving, which can get worse when marijuana is used along with alcohol or other substances.
Drivers using cocaine, methamphetamine, or other stimulants tend to behave more aggressively on the road. Although drivers high on cocaine may feel more alert and aware in the moment, research has shown that they are more likely to engage in inattentive and reckless driving behaviors like speeding, dangerous lane changes, and loss of vehicle control. As stimulant highs wear off, the resulting mental crashes can leave drivers fatigued and unable to concentrate, leading to equally unsafe conditions.
Some prescription medications, such as strong pain relievers or sedatives, also impair brain function to the point that users are unable to operate vehicles safely. Common opioids, including Percocet and fentanyl, and benzodiazepines, such as Xanax and Valium, make users drowsy and dizzy. Some studies show opioid use can make drivers twice as likely to crash while on the road. The fact that these drugs may be taken and prescribed legally does not excuse reckless driving under their influence, and legal use is not a valid defense against DUI charges in the state of Tennessee.
Injury Accidents Caused by Drugged Drivers
Fatigue, irritability, and other side effects of drug use lead to a variety of dangerous driving behaviors. People driving recklessly under the influence of intoxicating drugs have the capacity to wreak havoc on the road, causing accidents such as:
- Chain-reaction collisions
- Head-on crashes
- Hit-and-run accidents
- Rear-end collisions
- Side-swipe accidents
- T-bone crashes
These accidents can have severe effects on anyone unfortunate enough to encounter a drugged driver on the road. Common injuries in these cases, which can range from mild to fatal, include:
- Arm and leg injuries – including sprains, breaks, and amputations.
- Bruises, cuts, and scrapes – from broken glass, airbags, or other projectiles.
- Burns – from hot surfaces or “road rash”.
- Chest injuries – such as bruising or broken ribs from steering wheel impact.
- Emotional injuries – including post-traumatic stress and depression.
- Facial disfiguration or scars – which may require surgery to correct.
- Head injuries – including concussions and brain damage.
- Internal injuries – such as ruptured organs and internal bleeding.
- Soft tissue injuries – such as muscle and tendon sprains.
- Spinal cord injuries – which may lead to partial or full paralysis.
- Whiplash – a special type of soft tissue injury to the neck and upper back.
How Do I Prove Negligence in a Drugged Driving Crash?
To receive compensation, injured parties in drugged driving accident claims typically must prove that the negligence of a drugged driver directly caused their injuries. Proving negligence in drugged driving crashes can be uniquely tricky, since measuring intoxication by drugs is not as simple as measuring intoxication by alcohol.
In drunk driving accidents, law enforcement officers usually breath-test drivers to determine blood alcohol levels at the scene. If a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is over the legal limit, proving their negligence in a crash becomes much easier. However, identifying drug intoxication is not as simple. There are hundreds of drugs, not to mention combinations of drugs, with side effects that may impair a person’s ability to drive. None of these drugs has a “legal limit” or universal test, and their variety of effects make them hard for law enforcement to detect consistently.
Even when police officers suspect drug intoxication and order drivers to provide blood or urine samples for analysis, drug test results may not offer reliable proof. Some drugs are effective in such small quantities or processed by the body so quickly that drug tests may show negative results even while users are still high.
Since drug intoxication is often so difficult to prove, some claims that involve drugged drivers must rely on other evidence to build a case for damages. Drivers, passengers, or loved ones of those injured in drugged driving accidents can take several important steps to support their claims. Obtaining an accident report from your local police is often a good idea, as these reports usually provide the official cause of an accident, including the presence of any intoxicating substances. You may also want to collect evidence of any damages caused by the accident, including crash photos, medical bills, or even pay stubs as proof of lost income.
Knowledgeable drugged driving accident attorneys can also make a big difference in these claims, providing the skill and strategy needed to organize a successful case. An attorney can help you review case evidence, seek supporting witnesses, and negotiate lawsuits to ensure you receive the fair compensation you deserve. With over 20 years of experience representing Memphis drugged driving accident victims, Gold Law Firm offers both the compassion and the expertise to guarantee your best interests stay in focus.
What Type of Compensation Is Available to Me?
Drivers, passengers, and loved ones of people injured in a collision may be eligible for a variety of damages, or monetary compensation if they can prove that their accident was caused by the negligence of a drugged driver. In addition to more clear-cut expenses such as vehicle damage and current medical bills, victims may be entitled to compensation for:
- Future medical care
- Pain and physical suffering
- Emotional suffering
- Losses of income
- Decreased future wage-earning capacity
- “Punitive damages,” intended to punish the intoxicated driver
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Drugged Driving Claims in Tennessee?
A statute of limitations is a rule that establishes a time limit for filing certain criminal charges against a defendant. In Tennessee, this time limit for personal injury cases is a one-year window from the date of your accident, one of the shortest time spans in the country.
Since your time to file a claim begins running out the moment a drugged driving crash occurs, it is in your best interest to contact a lawyer immediately. Empathetic and experienced attorneys from our firm are ready to represent you today to make sure you are compensated fairly.
Why Choose Gold Law Firm?
Since the 1990s, Gold Law Firm has represented thousands of Tennesseans injured in automobile accidents. Together, David and Claire Gold have fought relentlessly to help their clients successfully claim millions of dollars in damages. Each case handled by the team at Gold Law Firm is approached with the special care of seasoned professionals, no matter the size or the outcome.
Although many of our cases are settled out of court, our team has pursued jury verdicts in dozens of personal injury trials. When drugged drivers and their insurance providers deny fault to avoid paying victims, our expert attorneys are prepared to fight for the reparations they need to be made whole.
Contact an Experienced Drugged Driving Injury Lawyer in Memphis Today
If you or a loved one has been injured in a drugged driving accident, you likely have questions about how you can receive fair compensation for your suffering. The Memphis car accident attorneys at Gold Law Firm understand your situation and wants to help. Call us for a free consultation at (901) 244-5003 to find out how.