What Effect Does Legalized Marijuana Have on Auto Accident Claims?

by | Jan 27, 2018 | Auto Accidents, Marijuana Prohibition | 0 comments

As more states consider changing their marijuana laws, officials look to states that have already legalized the drug to answer questions about safety.

One of the most pressing questions is: Would legalizing pot lead to an increase in auto accidents in SC?

One recent study from a research group funded by auto insurance companies says that legalized marijuana does correlate to an increase in highway accidents. Other studies have previously found that there is no evidence of increased auto accidents in marijuana-legal states.

Does legalized marijuana affect auto accident claims? What about in non-legal states?

What Did the Highway Loss Data Institute Find?

The Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) examined data from three states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use – Colorado, Oregon and Washington.

HLDI says that when collision claims in those states are compared with claims in nearby states, there is evidence of a 3 percent increase in claims in the states where marijuana is legal.

This one study is far from the final say on the issue. Other studies on the effects of marijuana use and legalized marijuana on traffic safety, including federal research, have found no evidence of increased accidents.

Also, HLDI’s financial connection to auto insurance companies raises questions about potential bias. The mere possibility that marijuana could lead to more auto insurance claims leads the industry to oppose legalization.

But, let’s be clear – whether marijuana is involved or not, auto insurance companies don’t like to pay claims.

What does that mean for you if you are injured in a SC auto accident?

Does Marijuana Use Affect Liability or Damages in a SC Auto Accident Case?

If you get hurt in an auto accident, you can find yourself struggling with debilitating pain, the cost of a new vehicle, mounting medical bills, and the inability to work.

Even if the other driver is clearly at fault, you can count on this – their insurance company will do everything possible to avoid paying a claim. To make sure you can prove your claims and receive the compensation you are legally entitled to, you will need the help of your SC auto accident attorney.

Your attorney will investigate your crash and look for the evidence that proves who was at fault which could include:

  • Intoxication by alcohol or other drugs – if marijuana is found in the other driver’s system, it could not only lead to a finding of liability on their part but could also mean there will be no cap on punitive damages if they are appropriate in your case;
  • Use of cellphones or other electronic devices – if you can prove that the other driver was texting or that their attention was on an electronic device instead of the road, this can be evidence of fault on their part;
  • Speeding – many accidents are caused by careless drivers who are exceeding the speed limit; and
  • Disregarding other traffic laws or traffic signals – when a driver commits a traffic violation which leads to an accident, they are negligent per-se. Your case is usually then about how much they will pay instead of who is liable.

The use of marijuana by an at-fault driver is relevant to the question of who was at fault and it can be relevant to the amount of damages as well. Any DUI-related accident, whether the intoxication was by alcohol or other drugs, can lead to a higher settlement or verdict and it can also help in establishing liability.

SC Auto Accident Lawyers in Myrtle Beach

If you have been involved in an auto accident, we will help you to determine who was at fault and to recover full compensation from the at-fault party or their insurance companies.

Call your SC personal injury attorney at Coastal Law, LLC, now at (843) 488-5000 or fill out our online form to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case.

 

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