Although California has made progress with regard to drunk driving, it has not made the same degree of progress with regard to drugged driving. Many drivers do not understand the risks of driving under the influence of prescription medications, marijuana, cocaine, or other street drugs. One study, in which the state of California was included, found that drugged driving played a role in over a quarter of fatal car accidents. The most common drug involved was marijuana. Many drivers who cause injuries or deaths while using drugs are not convicted of a DUI, but they can be held responsible for the injuries that they cause in a drugged driving accident. Travis G. Black is an experienced California drugged driving accident lawyer who may be able to help you recover damages if you were injured in such an accident.
Holding a Driver Accountable for Their Use of Drugs Behind the Wheel
A civil lawsuit is separate from any criminal charges that may be brought against a driver who uses drugs and drives and causes injuries. The burden of proof is much higher in criminal cases than civil cases. While the prosecution needs to prove its case “beyond a reasonable doubt,” you will need to prove your civil claim for personal injury damages by a “preponderance of the evidence.” This just means that you need to show that it is more likely than not that the defendant is liable. A prosecutor may bring criminal charges, but this does not necessarily mean that restitution will be awarded or that any restitution that is awarded will be sufficient to compensate for your injuries.
While a criminal case can influence the outcome of a civil case, you may be able to recover damages regardless of whether a drugged or drunk driver was held criminally accountable. In most cases, a Folsom car accident lawyer will need to establish negligence. This means that you will need to show that the defendant owed a duty to use reasonable care, the defendant failed to use reasonable care, the failure caused your injuries, and you incurred actual damages. Some people do not realize that they should not drive after consuming certain prescription drugs or marijuana. However, most juries are likely to find that a prudent and reasonable driver would not drive under such circumstances.
Often, defendants in these cases try to argue comparative negligence. Under the doctrine of comparative negligence, your damages can be reduced by your percentage of fault for the accident. For example, if you were driving at a reckless speed, the jury may find that you were partially to blame, even if the other driver was drugged and ran a stop sign. If the jury determines that you were 50% responsible, and the damages were $150,000, you may only be able to recover $75,000 from the other driver.
Both special damages and general damages may be recovered by a Folsom car accident lawyer on your behalf. These vary depending on your injuries. They may include medical bills, lost wages, lost earning capacity, vocational rehabilitation, scars, disfigurement, loss of consortium, pain and suffering, and household services. The court will look at whether you mitigated your damages, and your recovery may be limited to the damages that you would have incurred had you mitigated your damages. Often, injuries and damages are much worse because of a failure to follow a doctor’s orders or restrictions. For example, if you choose not to see a doctor right away, and once you do see a doctor, you do not follow a recommendation to go to therapy and stay off from work for a month, you may not be able to recover the damages that you would not have incurred had you gone to therapy and stayed off from work.