How Marijuana (DWI) Affects Car Accident Claims in Georgia

Accidents Are Increasing Because of Marijuana Usage

The legalization of marijuana in many states has led to an increase in the number of accidents involving drivers who are under the influence of the drug. A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that crash rates spiked in states that legalized recreational marijuana use. The study also found that the risk of a fatal crash was 10% higher in states with legalized recreational marijuana use.

There are a number of reasons why marijuana use can lead to accidents. Marijuana can impair a driver’s reaction time, judgment, and coordination. It can also make it difficult for drivers to pay attention to the road and to other drivers. In addition, marijuana can interact with other drugs, such as alcohol, to create even greater impairment.

The increase in accidents involving marijuana-impaired drivers is a serious public safety issue. It is important for drivers to be aware of the risks of driving under the influence of marijuana and to make responsible choices when they are behind the wheel.

Here are some additional facts about the relationship between marijuana use and accidents:

  • According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drivers who test positive for marijuana are twice as likely to be involved in a fatal crash as drivers who do not use marijuana.
  • A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that the risk of a fatal crash is 23% higher for drivers who use marijuana within two hours of driving.
  • Marijuana can impair a driver’s ability to perform a variety of tasks, including:
    • Maintaining a safe following distance
    • Making lane changes
    • Judging distances
    • Reacting to unexpected events

Any use of Marijuana is a Criminal Offense in Georgia

Georgia has traditionally taken a strict stance on marijuana use, with any use outside of the state’s narrow medical cannabis program being largely illegal. While some localities in Georgia may have decriminalized small amounts of marijuana, the state law still categorizes marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance. Possession, sale, and use of marijuana for recreational purposes remain a criminal offense under state law.

This stringent approach extends to driving while under the influence of marijuana. Georgia law enforces a zero-tolerance policy for drug-impaired driving, which includes marijuana. This means that if you are caught driving with any amount of THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) in your system, you can be charged with a DUI. The penalties for a DUI in Georgia can be severe, including fines, license suspension, and even jail time.

Keep in mind that while marijuana may be legal for recreational or medical use in other states, Georgia law applies within its borders. If you’re involved in a car accident where marijuana use is suspected, the state’s strict laws can significantly impact the outcome of any resulting legal claims.

How an At-Fault Driver’s Marijuana Use Can Boost Your Compensation

Punitive damages are a special category of damages awarded in personal injury cases where the defendant’s actions were especially reckless, negligent, or malicious. Unlike compensatory damages, which are meant to reimburse the victim for losses and expenses related to the accident, punitive damages are intended to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar conduct in the future. In Georgia, punitive damages can be awarded in car accident cases where the at-fault driver was under the influence of marijuana at the time of the accident.

Marijuana use while driving is considered particularly reckless behavior, because it will impair a drivers judgment, slow reaction times, and adversely affect motor skills. When a driver chooses to operate a vehicle under the influence of marijuana, they knowingly put others at risk. In these cases, a court may find that the driver’s actions were egregious enough to warrant punitive damages. The goal is not only to penalize the driver for their behavior but also to serve as a strong deterrent to others who might consider driving under the influence of marijuana.

However, it’s essential to note that there are limits on punitive damages in Georgia. Currently, the state caps punitive damages at $250,000 in most personal injury cases, with some exceptions for cases involving particularly egregious conduct or where the defendant acted with a specific intent to cause harm. Moreover, proving that punitive damages are warranted requires clear and convincing evidence of the defendant’s recklessness or malice, a higher standard than the preponderance of the evidence standard typically used in personal injury cases.

How to Detect Marijuana Use After an Accident – At the Accident Scene

Detecting marijuana use at the scene of a car accident can be crucial in establishing liability and protecting your rights as a victim. Here are some ways you can identify potential marijuana use by an involved driver:

  1. Observe the Driver’s Behavior: Look for signs of impairment, such as slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, poor coordination, or confusion. A driver who appears unusually relaxed, giggly, or lethargic may also be under the influence of marijuana.
  2. Smell: Marijuana has a distinctive odor, often described as skunky or earthy. If you smell this aroma on the driver, in their vehicle, or on their clothes, it may be a sign of recent marijuana use.
  3. Physical Evidence: Be on the lookout for paraphernalia in the other driver’s car, such as pipes, rolling papers, vaporizers, or containers of marijuana. Also, look for signs of burnt marijuana, such as ash or residue.
  4. Witness Statements: If there were any witnesses to the accident, ask if they noticed any signs of marijuana use by the involved drivers. Their observations can be helpful in corroborating your suspicions.
  5. Contact Law Enforcement: If you suspect that the other driver was under the influence of marijuana, it’s essential to inform the responding police officers. They can conduct field sobriety tests or request a blood or urine sample to test for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
  6. Document Everything: If you observe signs of marijuana use, make a note of them and take photographs if possible. Documenting evidence at the scene can be crucial when pursuing a personal injury claim or dealing with insurance companies.

Remember, it’s crucial to stay safe at the scene of an accident – unless you need immediate medical help. If you suspect marijuana use by an involved driver, prioritize your safety and do not confront them directly. Instead, gather evidence, speak to the police, and consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to navigate the legal process and ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.

Proving Marijuana Use by an At-Fault Driver Can Be Complex

While it might seem straightforward to establish that a driver was under the influence of marijuana at the time of an accident, proving this in a legal context can be complex and challenging. Here are some factors that contribute to this complexity:

  1. Lack of a Standardized Measurement: Unlike alcohol, where there’s a legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit of 0.08% in most states, there’s no universally accepted threshold for marijuana impairment. THC levels can vary greatly among individuals, making it difficult to establish a standardized measurement for impairment.
  2. Time Frame of Testing: THC can be detected in the bloodstream for days or even weeks after consumption, especially in frequent users. This means that a positive drug test does not necessarily prove that the driver was impaired at the time of the accident. The timing of the test and the driver’s usage patterns can complicate the interpretation of the results.
  3. Variability of Effects: The effects of marijuana can vary widely depending on factors such as the strain of the drug, method of consumption, and the user’s tolerance. This variability makes it challenging to pinpoint specific signs of impairment that are consistent across all users.
  4. Legal Defenses: If the at-fault driver has a medical marijuana card, they might argue that their usage was legal and that they were not impaired at the time of the accident. Defending against such claims requires careful analysis of the facts and evidence.
  5. Expert Testimony: Proving marijuana impairment may require testimony from medical experts, toxicologists, or accident reconstruction specialists. They can provide insights into the likely effects of the drug on the driver and how it may have contributed to the accident.

Given these complexities, it’s crucial to work with an experienced DUI accident attorney if you’re involved in an accident where marijuana use is suspected. They can help you gather the necessary evidence, work with experts, and build a strong case to prove that the at-fault driver’s marijuana use was a contributing factor in the accident.

Millar Law Firm have attorneys who are friendly and know what they are doing. My attorney Anthony had experience with the type of case I had. I am happy with the results. I liked that they also have someone who speaks the same language as me.

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How Our Team of DUI/DWI Injury Lawyers Can Help

if you were hit by someone who was high on marijuana, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Our team of DUI accident attorneys can help.

Our DUI accident attorneys can help you with the following:

  • Investigate the accident. We will investigate the accident to determine if the other driver was under the influence of marijuana. That includes interviewing witnesses, gathering evidence, and consulting with toxicology experts.
  • Negotiate a settlement with the insurance company. The insurance company for the other driver may be willing to settle your claim without going to court. We can negotiate a settlement that will fairly compensate you for your injuries – if you have a case.
  • File a lawsuit if necessary. If the insurance company refuses to settle your claim, we can consider going after the other driver.

In addition to helping you get compensation for your injuries, a DUI accident attorney can also help you with the following:

  • Deal with the insurance companies. The insurance companies for the other driver and your own car insurance company may be difficult to deal with. Your attorney can handle all of the communication with the insurance companies and make sure that you are treated fairly.
  • Track your medical bills. Medical bills can add up quickly after a car accident. Your attorney can track your medical bills and make sure that they are paid in a timely manner.
  • Help you with your recovery. A car accident can be a traumatic experience. Your attorney can help you cope with the emotional and physical effects of the accident. They can also help you get the rehabilitation and treatment you need to recover.

If you were hit by someone who was high on marijuana, you should contact a DUI accident attorney as soon as possible. They can help you get the compensation you deserve and help you through the difficult process of recovering from a car accident.

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