What can be done when you or a family member has been injured by a drunk driver or a driver who may be under the influence of marijuana? It could be one of the gravest injustices you ever experienced because, in addition to suffering from physical and emotional injuries, you got hit for no fault of yours. Most drunk or stoned drivers lack any respect for the law or consideration for others, and that’s why they drive intoxicated.
If you were involved in an accident due to the negligence of another, our car accident lawyers can help you recover the maximum compensation for your accident claim. We have a powerhouse team of attorneys ready to fight on your behalf. Call us today at (800) 818-1818
Many of the injuries you sustain after being hit by a drunk driver may stay with you for life. However, what may hurt you the most is that the person who caused all those issues only gets a slap on the wrist. How can you get a slap on the wrist for hitting someone innocent and causing them often disabling injuries?
The only way to get justice is to hire a car accident lawyer that has a history of successfully handling similar cases. A law firm with the staff, resources, reputation, and an aggressive approach can help you fight for your dignity and rights.
Driving Under the Influence of Opioids
Opioid influenced deaths have over the years increased by 7 folds between 1996 and 2017. It is an alarming static, especially because we seem to hear more and more cases involving people in accidents under the influence of opioids. Some experts openly say that the country is under the grip of an opioid epidemic.
Opioids include a myriad of drugs like morphine, codeine, and oxycodone. While these are prescription medications, they are often resold on the black market to recreational users. It is also not uncommon for those who abuse opioids do so alongside other drugs like marijuana and even alcohol, which makes them extremely dangerous drivers.
It is Illegal to Drive Under the Influence of Drugs in the State of California
Starting from the 1st of January 2018, the state legalized the use of recreational marijuana. However, there are strict laws in place to prevent people from driving when under the influence of marijuana, aka they are high. It is illegal under California Vehicle Code section 23152(f), which states that any person driving under the influence of a drug or any derivatives is breaking the law.
Harder for Officers to Spot a Stoned Driver
Finding out if a driver is drunk or under the influence of alcohol is easy with the use of alcohol testing devices like blood sampling and a breathalyzer. However, it is near impossible at the moment to measure a driver’s marijuana intoxication level. At the moment, there isn’t a simple objective test or a single device that can measure THC content in a person’s system. That’s why officers are left to use the following criteria to see if a driver is under the influence:
- Check for signs of intoxication both physical and odor
- Blood test
- A field sobriety test
- Saliva swab
At present, none of these tests are accurate when it comes to determining if a driver is impaired. So, if there is an accident caused by a driver high on marijuana, it rarely leads to a conviction. That said, even if the criminal case of driving under the influence of marijuana is defeated in the criminal justice system, it is possible to recover compensation for injuries sustained via a civil lawsuit.
A Criminal or Civil Case?
Just one instance of drunk driving or driving under the influence of marijuana can end a life or perhaps even maim a person for life, which ruins their family. However, when evaluating such charges, a court might consider a driver’s prior record before sentencing them. That’s why if they had a previously “clean” record, the resulting sentences would be all but a slap on the wrist, regardless of the destruction caused by the driver. That’s why families may often complain that the criminal justice system didn’t offer them the justice they thought should have been delivered.
When you are in the process of seeking justice after being injured by a drunk driver, knowing the difference between the civil justice system and the criminal justice system is important. While the two systems may appear to be similar, they are, in fact, different. If anything, they have a direct effect on your case.
The criminal justice system in a state like California is meant to enforce laws that protect society at large. That’s one reason why criminal charges are always read as “The People versus the defendant (person who is accused of the crime).” When it is a criminal justice case, you have the opportunity to testify against the drunk driver who hit you and to help investigators. Then when the criminal pleads guilty or is later convicted, it will ensure you get some justice as the victim.
In addition to receiving some criminal restitution payment, you will not be compensated for future or past losses or expenses. However, if you have the desire for personal justice and want to enforce your rights, then the case will have to be handled by the civil justice system.
The civil justice system is all about compensation. Victims are required to receive compensation for their physical and emotional injuries and any damages as a result. So, if that’s the outcome you want, then the civil justice system in California can deliver.
In some civil cases, courts may be willing to award punitive damages to DUI victims in addition to punishing wrongdoers who have committed the egregious act. The exemplary awards are meant to help punish wrongdoers but also serve a much higher purpose, i.e., of acting as a deterrent.
Punitive damages are a part of a DUI personal injury case, but it requires being able to make a case in front of the judge for compensation. So, it needs to be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that the driver was either:
- Guilty of intentional wrongdoing, i.e., they were fully aware of the fact that they were breaking the law by driving under the influence of marijuana, prescription medication, or alcohol but still chose to go that route. That decision is what eventually led to damages and injuries.
- Was grossly negligent – It means that they decided to conduct themselves in this way in total disregard for others’ safety.
As the injured party, you can claim compensation from a negligent driver for a myriad of damages including:
- Medical expenses which stem from the incident
- Physical pain
- Medical expenses in the near future
- Lost wages
- Loss of quality of life
- Property destruction
- Physical disability
Who Do You Hold Accountable?
If a loved one or yourself are injured by a driver under the influence of opioids or alcohol, then it is your right to sue them directly. You can sue them for carelessness, negligence, and recklessness. How you decide to sue them should be discussed with an attorney.
In cases where the person was driving under the influence of prescription medication, your claim will have to be directed at the pharmacist or doctor who may have overprescribed. The claim would have to expose the doctor who is overprescribing when they knew the person was abusing their medication or maybe reselling it to recreational users. Either way, they were breaking the law.
An attorney should be able to outline a strategy for claiming damages by suing the right party. That’s why it is so important to meet with one right after an accident to explore your options.
If you or a loved one has been the victim on a DUI driver, call our powerhouse car accident attorneys now at (800) 818-1818. We can get you the justice you deserve!