The opioid crisis has reached epidemic proportions in this country. There have been significant increases in overdoses and complications caused by the drugs, including prescription painkillers. This issue has also caused thousands of deaths from car accidents caused by drivers under the influence of drugs. According to national statistics, the increase has been sevenfold.
One of the critical factors in this increase – as well as the epidemic – is the number of prescriptions written for hydrocodone, morphine, and oxycodone. In 1991, there were 76 million prescriptions written for these drugs. Twenty-five years later, that number had jumped to 400 million prescriptions written in one year.
These medications have serious side effects including drowsiness, distorted thinking, and delayed reaction time. Many of these patients who have been prescribed these medications still get behind the wheel of their vehicles, putting themselves and those on the roads around them at dangerous risks of being injured or killed in a crash.
A new study has examined just how prevalent drugged driving has become. The study examined the files of 37,000 accidents where the drivers were killed. Many states now test for drugs in all fatal crashes, so the researchers used the results of those tests. They found that 27 percent of killed drivers had tested positive for drugs, including prescription drugs. There were more women who tested positive than men.
Drugged Driving Crashes
A driver who gets behind the wheel of a vehicle while under the influence of opioids is just as dangerous as one who gets behind the wheel drunk. And as if things could not get worse, many police around the country are reporting astronomical spikes in the incidents of drivers who overdose while driving. When a driver is overdosing because of the opioid in his or her system, the vehicle is literally being driven by no one, plowing towards other vehicles and/or pedestrians.
Impaired drivers can be held liable for paying financial damages for the losses accident victims have suffered, including as medical expenses, loss of income, pain and suffering, emotional anguish, disfigurement, and permanent disability. They may also be held liable for punitive damages, as well. Your attorney can evaluate your case to see just how much your drugged-driving case may be worth.
If you have been injured in a car accident, however, it is important to contact a Virginia car accident attorney immediately because Virginia does have a statute of limitations on how long victims have to file their claim.