Legal Options In Drugged Driving Wrecks
In 2015, California law enforcement officers, citing the state’s DUI law, arrested a man for allegedly driving under the influence of caffeine. Prosecutors later dismissed this charge. But the arrest itself is clear proof of the broad nature of California’s DUI law. Any substance, even caffeine or an over-the-counter drug, like NyQuil, is potentially impairing.
Even if the tortfeasor (negligent driver) is not legally under the influence of a substance, a San Jose car accident attorney can still obtain compensation for drugged driving crash victims. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Legally, people are intoxicated if the drug inhibits the normal use of their mental or physical faculties. However, drug impairment usually starts with the first pill or puff. Evidence of drug impairment includes:
- Odor of marijuana in the vehicle,
- Open medicine containers in the passenger area,
- Erratic driving before the crash,
- Physical symptoms, like bloodshot eyes, and
- Tortfeasor’s statements to other people about drug use.
Individually, these bits of evidence do not amount to much. But if there is more than one item, that’s probably sufficient to establish negligence, or a lack of care, by a preponderance of the evidence.
The duty of care requires drivers to be in optimal mental and physical condition when they get behind the wheel. They must be sober, well-rested, and prepared to concentrate on driving.
A preponderance of the evidence means more likely than not. Picture two equally-sized piles of tissue paper sitting side by side. If someone moves a single sheet from the right to the left, the pile on the left is bigger than the one on the right. That’s the image of a preponderance of the evidence. So, in civil claims, a little bit of proof goes a long way.
Negligence Per Se
This section will be relatively short. If law enforcement officers charge the driver with DUI-drug use, the tortfeasor could be liable for the aforementioned damages as a matter of law. Evidence is usually relevant only to the amount of compensation awarded.
This doctrine usually applies even if the tortfeasor beats the case in court or, as in the above story, prosecutors dismiss the charges. A civil jury determines all the facts in a civil case. That includes guilt or innocence in a criminal or other such case.
Third Party Liability
Prescription pain pills and marijuana are the two most common impairing substances in California. Pharmacists or marijuana store owners could be vicariously liable for car crash damages in these situations.
These claims are difficult to prove, mostly because of the foreseeability rule. A DUI or impairment-related crash must be a foreseeable (possible) result of the retail transaction.
Foreseeability is somewhat easier to prove in marijuana impairment claims. Marijuana’s impairing effects hit people like a ton of bricks almost immediately, and the effect quickly fades. And, it’s usually foreseeable that a person will light a joint in the car on the way home.
Contact an Efficient Santa Clara County Lawyer
Drugged drivers often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in San Jose, contact Solution Now Law Firm. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.