Researchers at Columbia University recently analyzed nine epidemiologic studies and concluded that drivers who use marijuana within three hours of driving are two times more likely to be involved in a car crash. Those with higher concentrations of marijuana in their systems had an even greater crash risk. The increased crash risks from marijuana use may translate into more Massachusetts motor vehicle accidents.
If further research verifies the correlation between the risk of a vehicle crash and marijuana use, legislation and public education may be needed. With the ongoing problem of impaired driving in the country, and medical marijuana legal in some states, it is imperative to determine if marijuana use is responsible for some car crashes.
Remedies for Those Injured
A driver who causes an accident while he or she is under the influence of marijuana is not only subject to criminal penalties and fines, but may also be required to pay civil damages to the victim. Anyone injured by a driver under the influence of marijuana can file suit. In the devastating situation when a loved one is killed, survivors may file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Victims may be compensated for medical expenses, ongoing treatment, loss of income, earning capacity, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and punitive damages. In instances where the victim dies, the estate can file for damages and recover compensation not only for monetary loss, but also for such things as:
- emotional distress
- loss of companionship
- comfort and care
- punitive damages
The link between marijuana use and car accidents may not come as a surprise. However, as researchers find increasing evidence that marijuana use is tied to the increased occurrence of car crashes, policy and educational campaigns must address the heightened risk.
Source: Science Daily, “Marijuana Use May Double the Risk of Accidents for Drivers, Study Finds,” Oct. 6, 2011