It’s dangerous for anyone to get behind the wheel of a car with drugs in their system. Drugged driver car accidents can lead to serious injuries, fatalities, and traumatic property damage. And, unfortunately, they’re more common than many people realize. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, it’s estimated that nearly 44 percent of drivers in fatal car crashes tested positive for drugs.
At OnderLaw, LLC, our St. Louis drugged driver accident attorneys understand the complexities of cases like this. When you hire us, we will fight hard to recover the compensation you deserve from the negligent driver.
If you were the victim of a car crash caused by a drugged driver, call us at (314) 963-9000 to set up a free consultation and find out how we can help. We’re ready to get started on your case.
What Is Drugged Driving?
Drugged driving is operating a motor vehicle while impaired by a legal or illegal substance. Most people assume drugged driving only occurs when someone has a controlled substance in their system; however, even over the counter medication, such as Benadryl, can impair a person’s driving abilities.
Four main types of drugs could contribute to drugged driving crashes. They include the following:
- Over the counter medicines, such as melatonin, sleep aids, and allergy medication
- Controlled substances, such as heroin and cocaine
- Prescription medications, such as antidepressants, decongestants, and antihistamines
- Marijuana: Although marijuana is legal for medical purposes, it’s against the law to drive with it in your system
If you attempt to drive with a drug in your system, you could experience any of the following symptoms, which could result in an accident:
- Impaired motor skills
- Slowed reaction time
- Poor decision making
- Loss of consciousness
- Altered sensory perception
- Blurry vision
Any of the effects above could prevent someone from making good decisions or cause them to react poorly in a dangerous situation. Drugged driving creates a hazardous situation for other drivers on the road. If you get injured by a drugged driver, you’re entitled to seek financial compensation from them in an insurance claim or lawsuit.
Pursuing Legal Action After a Drugged Driver Accident
If you suffered injuries in a drugged driver car crash, you could file a claim with the at-fault motorist’s auto insurance, according to Missouri’s fault system. The person who causes a car accident is automatically liable for the victim’s injuries and expenses.
It’s crucial that you don’t admit any level of fault for the accident. The other driver might have drugs in their system, and that’s what ultimately led to the collision; however, if you were texting behind the wheel, you could share some blame. If you admit to it, your maximum compensation could decrease by your percentage of shared fault.
For example, let’s say you incurred $100,000 in expenses, and an insurance company discovers you were 20% at fault for the accident. Under the pure comparative negligence rule, the highest compensation you could receive is $80,000. That’s $100,000 minus 20%.
How An Insurance Company Will Determine the Value of Your Case
In any personal injury case, there are damages that the injured party suffers. Damages are losses resulting from an accident. If you were hurt in a drugged driver car crash, you could pursue compensation for your economic and non-economic damages.
Examples of economic damages include:
- Medical expenses
- Out of pocket costs
- Car repairs
- Lost wages
- Lost future earnings
Examples of non-economic damages include:
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
When you hire one of the St. Louis drugged driver accident attorneys from OnderLaw, LLC, we will obtain evidence that the other driver was at fault, and that you deserve compensation for the damages that resulted from your accident. Some of the evidence we’ll work to collect includes:
- Traffic crash report
- At-fault driver’s toxicology results and criminal history
- Witness statements
- Video surveillance
- Photos of the crash site
- Your medical records
- Vehicle damage report
The coverage on the drugged driver’s liability insurance policy will determine the maximum settlement amount you could pursue. The insurance adjuster will consider your total economic damages and all the evidence we submit when deciding how much money you deserve. Other factors that could determine the compensation you receive include:
- Type and severity of your injury
- Total economic damages
- Availability of relevant evidence
- Coverage on insurance policies
- Duration of medical treatment
- Length of time it took to recover
- If there was a physical impairment or disability due to the injury
- Impact of the accident on your quality of life
What If I Want to File a Lawsuit?
Drugged driving is a criminal offense. If you sustained injuries in a car accident and discover the other motorist had drugs in their system, you could file a lawsuit against them. There’s a statute of limitations you must follow if you want to pursue legal action in the civil courts. You’ll have five years from the accident date to sue, or you’ll lose your right to compensation.
If a jury rules in your favor, you would receive compensation for your economic and non-economic damages. You could also seek punitive damages. Instead of reimbursing you for your losses, punitive damages aim to punish the at-fault party and prevent them from similar acts in the future. To win a financial award for this type of damage, you must prove negligence.
Negligence is the legal theory that one person’s failure to act in a way a reasonable person would, under similar circumstances, led to another person’s harm. The five elements that must exist includes:
- Duty: The drugged driver owed you a reasonable duty of care to prevent you from harm;
- Breach of duty: They breached their duty;
- Cause in fact: If it wasn’t for their breach, you wouldn’t have sustained an injury;
- Proximate cause: Your injury was the direct result of the driver’s actions; and
- Damages: You incurred damages after the accident.
It’s possible to file a lawsuit against the drugged driver and pursue compensation from their auto insurance company. Typically, if there’s a corresponding criminal case, the insurance settlement could be higher with evidence of a favorable jury verdict.
What Can I Do If My Loved One Died in a Drugged Driver Accident?
Sadly, drugged driving car accidents often cause fatalities. If your loved one died due to a drugged driver, you could file a wrongful death lawsuit.
According to Missouri statute 537.080, a wrongful death occurs as the result of someone’s conduct, act, circumstance, occurrence, or transaction, and would have led to the recovery of damages if they survived.
There are a few people that could file a wrongful death lawsuit. They are (in consecutive order) the following:
- Surviving spouse
- Surviving child
- Surviving grandchild
- Surviving parent
If there’s no surviving spouse, child, grandchild, or parent, a surviving sibling could pursue a wrongful death case. If none of these family members exist, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate would be responsible for filing a lawsuit.
The damages you could claim include:
- Funeral and burial costs
- Pain and suffering the deceased experienced before passing away
- Medical care for the deceased’s fatal injury
- Total wages the deceased would have earned if they survived the accident
- The monetary value of companionship, love, comfort, guidance, or support the deceased would provide to surviving family members if they were still alive
Filing a UM or PIP Claim
If you want to file an insurance claim and discover that the drugged driver doesn’t carry liability insurance, you could file a claim with your insurance company.
UM stands for uninsured motorist coverage. It’s a legal state requirement to include it on your insurance policy. There’s a minimum limit provided by state law and optional limits if you want higher coverage.
UM coverage is useful for victims of car accidents if the at-fault driver doesn’t have auto insurance. A UM claim could compensate you for the following economic and non-economic damages:
- Medical costs
- Lost wages and lost future wages
- Pain and suffering
PIP stands for personal injury protection. It’s optional coverage available for every vehicle owner and operator. If you chose to include it on your insurance policy, you could receive reimbursement for a percentage of your lost wages and cover your medical bills.
When you treat the injuries you sustained in the drugged driver accident, you can provide your PIP information to the medical provider. After each appointment, they will submit your billing statement to your insurance company for payment. PIP will pay for all doctor appointments up to the maximum coverage you chose to purchase.
Speak to an Experienced St. Louis Drugged Driver Accident Attorney
OnderLaw, LLC understands you’re struggling. You sustained injuries because of another person’s poor decisions. You shouldn’t suffer the consequences of their actions. We’ll help you fight for the justice you deserve. When you retain our legal services, we’ll handle each step of your case so you can focus solely on your recovery. We care about our clients, and you’ll be a priority for us from beginning to end of your case.
You won’t be alone during this traumatic experience. We’ll help you get through this with quality customer service and emotional support. You can depend on our team to answer your call 24/7. We believe in making ourselves available to our clients when it’s the most convenient for them.
If you or your loved one was the victim of a drugged driver car accident, call us today at (314) 963-9000. One of our St. Louis car accident attorneys will schedule a free consultation to discuss your case and advise you on the legal options available.