What are Your Rights After a Collision Involving a Driver Under the Influence of Legal Marijuana?
While Colorado may have some of the most marijuana-friendly laws in the nation, this does not mean that it is okay to drive while high. Driving under the influence of marijuana is a criminal offense in Colorado, and it is grounds for accident victims to seek just compensation for their accident-related losses.
Marijuana-Related Auto Accidents are On the Rise in Colorado
According to a Denver Post article published last year, “The number of drivers involved in fatal crashes in Colorado who tested positive for marijuana has risen sharply each year since 2013, more than doubling in that time, federal and state data show.” The Colorado legislature legalized recreational use of marijuana in 2012.
CBS Channel 4 in Denver similarly reported, “After retail marijuana sales began in Colorado, the increase in collision claim frequency was 14 percent higher than in nearby Nebraska, Utah and Wyoming.” However, the Channel 4 report also notes that the correlation between recreational marijuana sales and the increased rate of accidents does not necessarily reflect causation. In any case, the risks of driving under the influence of marijuana are clear, and drivers who choose to put others in harm’s way deserve to be held accountable.
Seeking Financial Compensation for Accidents Involving Marijuana-Impaired Drivers
Marijuana use affects the body in a variety of different ways. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “studies have found a direct relationship between blood THC concentration and impaired driving ability.” When it comes to driving, some of the most dangerous effects are impaired judgment, altered perception of time, panic, loss of motor coordination and increased reaction time.
Similar to driving under the influence of alcohol, drivers who cause auto accidents while under the influence of marijuana can be held fully responsible for victims’ accident-related losses. Typically, victims will need to seek compensation from the driver’s insurance company. While most auto accident insurance claims settle, in some cases it may be necessary to go to court in order to hold an insurance company liable for a marijuana-impaired driver’s poor decision-making. As with other types of accidents, drivers and passengers injured by marijuana-impaired drivers are entitled to compensation for their:
- Medical expenses
- Loss of income and earning capacity
- Prescriptions and other out-of-pocket expenses
- Pain, suffering and emotional distress
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Other financial and non-financial losses
If an officer from the Colorado State Patrol or Denver Police Department responded to your accident, the police report could be critical evidence in your claim for compensation. If not, there may still be other ways to prove that you are entitled to financial compensation. Regardless, in order to protect your right to just compensation, you should speak with an attorney as soon as possible.
Speak With a Denver Personal Injury Attorney at Levine Law
For more information about your rights after an accident involving a marijuana-impaired driver, we invite you to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at our law offices in Denver. To speak with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys in confidence, please call 303-333-8000 or tell us about your accident online today.