What Happens When a Stoned or High Driver Causes a Car Accident?
With 2019’s Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act, California legalized marijuana for adults 21 or older. People who meet the age requirement are allowed to have up to 28.5 grams of the plant and 8 grams of a concentrated form. It remains illegal to drive while under the influence.
What if you’re in a crash with a stoned or high driver? What do you do to protect your rights?
CaliforniaLaws Regarding Driving While Impaired
The drunk or drugged driving law in California covers over-the-counter medications that make a driver sleepy. It also covers legal drugs like marijuana. While a person can use marijuana at home, it’s not allowed in a car and drivers cannot drive with THC in their system. Marijuana cannot be out in the open while one is driving either.
Testing a driver for the presence of THC isn’t ask easy as a test that checks the alcohol level. Officers have to closely monitor a driver’s actions for signs marijuana has been used. They’ll look at pupil reactions and dilation. They look at tremors in the eyelids and body, too. If marijuana use is suspected, a blood test to check for THC comes next, but there’s a time crunch. The level of THC decreases by 75% within an hour.
Drivers who are arrested for DUI have their driver’s licenses suspended or revoked. They’ll attend a hearing within 10 days of the order. The court may fine the driver or order jail time, too. If the driver caused a crash while high or stoned, that driver’s auto insurance will pay for medical bills, lost wages, car repairs/replacement, and other expenses caused during the crash. If the driver who caused the crash doesn’t have insurance, your insurance’s underinsured/uninsured coverage will kick in.
Steps to Take After the Crash
If you, a witness, or another passenger can, get photos of the scene. Get photos of the stoned or high driver’s car, VIN, license plate, and anything else that could help with a complaint against that driver. Swap license and insurance information. Do not say anything to the other driver. You don’t want to make any comment that could be used against you, even if you know you had nothing to do with the cause of the crash.
Do you have a dashcam? Dashboard cameras make for great witnesses in showing how you were driving before and during the crash. It will provide evidence of the impaired driver running a light or stop sign, weaving over both lanes, or failing to follow road rules at the time of the crash. Store a copy of that footage on your computer and make sure you tell the police you have it and let them make a copy for their report.
Seek medical care. Even if you feel fine, see a doctor as a precaution. Some injuries, such as a concussion, worsen as time passes. It’s best to see a doctor, know what to look for, and have a record of being treated after the accident. If you must attend therapy and rehab sessions, you want the driver who was responsible for the crash to pay for that future care too. Keep copies of all doctor recommendations and medical bills to make sure you are paid for every appointment you need during your recovery.
File an accident report. Make sure the police come to the scene. You want an accident report filled out. You want a copy of the report number and officer’s name to give to your insurance company. If the other driver is found to be high or stoned, your insurance company will go after the other driver’s insurance to get you compensation for your expenses related to the crash.
After a crash with a suspected stoned driver, you’ll want to talk to a lawyer. You need the expertise of a personal injury attorney to help you prove the case against the other driver to get full compensation for your injuries, pain, and suffering. You’ll be stressed and that makes it hard to think straight. An attorney can help you decide what action you wish to take and guide you through a lawsuit if the insurance settlement offer isn’t enough to cover your current and future expenses.
You have rights after a crash with a stoned driver. Don’t feel pressured to settle for an offer that won’t cover all of your bills. If an impaired driver caused a crash, that driver’s insurance should pay for your medical bills, lost wages, property damages, and more. Carpenter & Zuckerman specialize in cases against high or stoned drivers. Call Carpenter & Zuckerman for a free consultation.
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