Drivers Under the Influence of Opioids

Doctors prescribe opioids to help people manage significant pain. Even when opioids are taken as prescribed, they can cause:

  • Drowsiness
  • Impaired cognitive function
  • Impaired psychomotor skills
  • Reduced reaction time
  • Reduced alertness
  • Reduced attention and concentration

These dangers may become even worse when a driver takes more opioids than their doctor prescribed.

Top Three Driving Errors in Opioid-Related Fatal Accidents

In 2019, Columbia University researchers released a study that looked at 18,000 pairs of drivers involved in fatal crashes between 1993 and 2016. The researchers found “…compelling evidence that use of prescription opioids by drivers is a significant contributing factor for fatal two-vehicle crashes.”

The three most common errors made by drivers under the influence of opioids included:

  • Failure to remain in their lane (54.7%)
  • Failure to yield the right of way (15.9%)
  • Failure to obey traffic signs, traffic control devices, or traffic officers (10.9%)

Researchers concluded that prescription opioid use more than doubles the risk of fatal two car accidents.

Drivers who fail to stay in their lane, yield the right of way, or obey traffic lights or signs, run the risk of causing head-on collisions, T-bone crashes, and other devastating accidents that can result in death or severe injuries.

Was Opioid Use a Factor in Your Car Accident Case?

Drivers cause car accidents in many different ways. If you’ve been hurt or your loved one has been killed in a Wisconsin car crash, then you have to prove that another driver was negligent before you can recover damages.

You may not know why the driver was in your lane, blew through a traffic light, or otherwise caused your crash right away. You won’t smell opioids on the driver’s breath and a breathalyzer won’t provide you with immediate information.

However, an experienced Wisconsin car accident lawyer knows what questions to ask in a legally compelling way to get the information you need. Once you decide to pursue a car accident case, your lawyer can use various legal discovery methods to determine if opioid use is relevant to your claim. These methods include:

  • Interrogatories. Written questions are presented to the other driver who must answer the questions in writing and under oath.
  • Depositions. Like interrogatories, depositions include questions that must be answered under oath. However, your lawyer will ask the other driver questions directly and the other driver will answer the questions verbally.
  • Requests for production of documents. Documentation, including medical records that show whether opioids were prescribed, could be relevant to your claim.

Together, this information can provide you with the evidence that you need to settle your claim with the other driver’s insurer or to pursue a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit in a Wisconsin court.

Now Is the Time to Protect Your Car Accident Recovery

You have a limited amount of time to pursue car accident compensation. You must act before the statute of limitation expires and while essential evidence remains available. By acting quickly, you can protect your recovery of past and future:

  • Medical costs. Your healthcare expenses may include hospitalizations, surgeries, medications, doctors’ appointments, assistive medical devices, and rehabilitation therapies such as physical therapy.
  • Lost income. Your accident injuries may prevent you from working. Any income you can’t earn from wages, benefits, bonuses, or self-employment may be included in your legal recovery.
  • Pain and suffering. Your physical pain and emotional suffering could be among your most significant damages after a car crash.
  • Out-of-pocket expenses and other damages. Property damage may be included in your recovery. Additionally, if your loved one died, then funeral and burial expenses and other losses may be part of your recovery.

Without this recovery, you will bear the financial burden of the accident.

Our Milwaukee, Appleton, Green Bay, Madison, and Wausau accident lawyers are here to help you. Over the last 50+ years, we have helped more than 70,000 clients recover more than $1 billion in damages. Call us today to schedule your free consultation in one of our offices, your home or hospital room, or by phone or video conference.

 

Jason F. Abraham
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Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham