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Attorney Robert Fakhouri

Legal marijuana and car crashes

by | Jan 20, 2023 | Car Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents

Recreational consumption of marijuana is legal in Illinois and several other states. As with alcohol, those using marijuana must understand that ingesting THC would impair their driving ability. Yet, some may choose to violate DUI laws and take to the roads under the influence of marijuana. As data shows, regions where using marijuana is legal sometimes suffer an increase in motor vehicle collisions.

Marijuana and car crashes

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducted a study on the relationship between fatal motor vehicle crashes and the legalization of marijuana. On average, states that legalized marijuana experienced a 6% increase in crashes and a 4% increase in deaths. In states where recreational marijuana remains legal, the injury and death stats remained consistent.

The study notes that other factors contribute to motor vehicle collisions, and no concrete proof of a direct cause-effect between legalizing marijuana and car crash increases exists. Regardless, driving under the influence remains illegal, and anyone who causes a crash while high on cannabis may face criminal and legal consequences.

Civil fallout

When someone drives under the influence of marijuana, alcohol or another substance, the ability to operate a vehicle safely suffers. Cognitive ability and reaction time may diminish, making it difficult to avoid an accident. A disoriented driver might become unaware of road conditions, crash into another car or hit a pedestrian. Even at low speeds, such incidents might cause fatalities.

Car accidents that inflict injuries leave victims with medical bills and other financial issues. The victim might be unable to work for weeks, putting the person in a challenging position. Fatal crashes could leave survivors financially and emotionally devastated.

A civil lawsuit provides a potential path to recovering losses. Sometimes, an insurance settlement could sufficiently address claims.