Driving under the influence of drugs is just as risky as driving under the influence of alcohol. They both negatively impact a person’s ability to drive safely. Unfortunately, drugged driving is more common than many people realize. A 2013-2014 survey conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 20% of surveyed drivers tested positive for potentially impairing drugs.
When a drugged driver causes a car crash, severe injuries and property damage usually result. Our Charlotte drugged driving lawyers understand the trauma this experience can cause. If you were the victim of a drugged driver car accident, you’re entitled to hold the at-fault driver liable for your resulting injuries. You could file an insurance claim or lawsuit to recover compensation for your expenses and the suffering you endured.
At DeMayo Law Offices, Your North Carolina Law Firm™, our highly skilled, caring, drugged driving attorneys will help you fight for the justice you deserve. Call us at (704) 333-1000 to learn about your rights and legal options.
Drugged Driving Is More Dangerous Than You Think
When you think of the term DUI (driving under the influence), you probably picture alcohol and illegal substances, such as cocaine or a combination of drugs. However, something seemingly harmless, like allergy medicine, can affect someone’s ability to drive safely.
North Carolina laws prohibit people from operating a motor vehicle with a metabolized Schedule I controlled substance in their system or while under the influence of an impairing substance.
Four main types of drugs could cause adverse side effects that result in a car accident:
All of these have the potential to cause mental or physical problems for the driver. Common symptoms experienced include:
Slower reaction time
Loss of coordination and sensory perception
Inability to focus
Even if you’re taking a drug prescribed by your doctor, it could lead to an adverse reaction. You should always discuss the possible side effects with your doctor or pharmacist and read the warning labels on the packaging. If operating a motor vehicle with the medication in your system is dangerous, you should refrain from doing so.
What You Should and Shouldn’t Do After a Car Accident
If you collide with a driver who’s under the influence of recreational or even illegal drugs and suffer any injuries, you should follow the steps below:
Call law enforcement and wait for them to arrive at the scene. They will perform an investigation and write a crash report.
Talk to anyone who witnessed the crash and write down their names and phone numbers.
Get crucial details from the at-fault driver, such as their name, contact information, and auto insurance provider.
Take pictures of the accident scene.
Seek medical attention. The doctor will evaluate your injuries and refer you for additional treatment if necessary. Be sure to follow their orders and continue seeing all medical providers until you recover.
Gather copies of every document related to the crash, including medical records, billing statements, and letters from the insurance company.
Hire a drugged driving lawyer.
Besides completing the steps above, there are some things you should avoid doing. If you say or do the wrong thing, you could ruin your chance of recovering the maximum compensation.
Don’t wait to pursue a legal case against the at-fault driver. Drugged driving is a serious offense, and you should hold them accountable for their actions. If you wait too long to file an insurance claim or lawsuit, you could miss an important deadline or discover that crucial evidence went missing.
Don’t admit to fault for the accident. Even if you believe you’re partially responsible, don’t tell anyone. Under the state’s contributory negligence rule, you won’t be entitled to any compensation if the insurance company determines you share any blame.
Don’t speak to the insurance adjusters. Regardless of what kind of claim you filed, never talk to them. Your Charlotte drugged driver accident lawyer will handle all communication on your behalf. That will prevent you from saying something that could harm the outcome of your case.
Don’t sign any forms from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Auto insurance companies don’t care about injured victims. They only care about saving money. They might try to trick you into signing away your rights to the maximum settlement available. If they request your signature on any documents, politely decline and forward them to your lawyer for review.
Don’t wait too long after the accident to seek initial treatment or consistently skip scheduled doctor appointments. The insurance adjuster will have good reason to deny your claim if there’s a gap in treatment. You need to follow up with all your medical providers regularly until they release you from care.
Don’t decide against legal representation. If you attempt to handle your case alone, you’ll most likely end up with a denied claim or settlement offer that’s much lower than you deserve. A Charlotte drugged driver accident lawyer has the experience and resources to build a strong case that gets accident victims the financial award they need.
Damages in an Insurance Claim
When you file an insurance claim, the goal is to recover compensation for your total damages. Damages are the losses associated with an accident. Two main categories are economic damages (expenses) and non-economic damages (intangible losses).
There’s a fault system in North Carolina that determines who’s financially responsible for the injured victim’s damages. The person who causes a car accident is generally liable for the other party’s injuries and losses. Their liability auto insurance company typically provides a settlement depending on the limits listed on the policy. The legal requirement for liability limits is $30,000 for bodily injury and $25,000 for property damage.
If you choose to file a liability claim, you could pursue the following damages up to the maximum limits:
Lost wages and future earnings
Vehicle repair or replacement costs
Out -of-pocket expenses
Pain and suffering
Diminished quality of life
Unfortunately, there are times when you might come across a driver who doesn’t have liability insurance, despite state laws requiring it. If that happens, there are other options for pursuing a settlement. UMUM/UIM (uninsured/underinsured motorist) coverage steps in to compensate for damages when the responsible driver lacks liability insurance or when their coverage limits are insufficient. It provides crucial financial protection for the injured party in such situations.
The following damages are available in a UM claim:
Lost wages and future earnings
Pain and suffering
Similar to liability coverage, uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) insurance includes specific limits for bodily injury and property damage. UM/UIM coverage ensures that you have financial protection in case you encounter an uninsured or underinsured driver, helping to cover medical expenses and property damage costs. If you chose property damage coverage on your policy, you could also seek compensation for car repair and replacement costs.
As mentioned earlier, economic damages are expenses. Things like medical treatment come with a billing statement. To determine the total cost, all you have to do is add up everything. However, calculating non-economic damages, such as physical and emotional pain, is complicated. The insurance company might consider the following factors to come up with a fair number:
Availability of medical evidence
Impact of the injury on quality of life
Duration of the recovery period
Permanent damage, impairment, or disability as a result of the accident
The total value of economic damages
Inability to maintain employment or perform the job to full capacity
The severity of the injury
Proof the other driver was at fault
Future medical treatment needed
Damages in a Lawsuit
You can file an insurance claim, lawsuit, or both. It’s your choice, but your Charlotte drugged driver accident lawyer will advise you on the best option. If you choose to file a lawsuit against the liable driver, there’s a strict deadline you must comply with in North Carolina. It’s known as a statute of limitations. The statute of limitations for car accidents is three years. You have a three-year window, starting from the date of the car accident, to initiate legal action and seek compensation. This timeframe emphasizes the importance of taking timely legal action to protect your rights and pursue the compensation you deserve.
The legal theory of negligence is standard in this type of case. Negligence refers to one party’s failure to prevent harm to another by following a standard of reasonable care. There are five elements you must show were present at the time of the accident to prove negligence:
Duty: The other driver owed you a duty of care;
Breach: They breached their duty;
Cause in fact: If it weren’t for their actions, you wouldn’t have suffered harm;
Proximate cause: Their breach was the direct cause of your injury; and
Damages: You incurred damages.
Besides economic and non-economic damages, you could pursue a third type in a lawsuit. Unlike the other two types, punitive damages don’t compensate injured victims for their losses. Instead, it punishes the individual responsible for an accident and deters similar behavior in the future.
The accident victim can prove the other party is liable for economic and non-economic damages;
The other party exhibited an aggravating factor of fraud, malice, or willful conduct; and
There’s clear and convincing evidence of at least one of the aggravating factors.
DeMayo Law Offices has a team of experienced Charlotte car accident lawyers. We use our knowledge, resources, and skills to fight for the compensation our clients deserve. We know a car accident can be traumatizing. When you suffer injuries and spend months recovering, it causes tremendous stress. You can depend on our legal team to take the responsibility off your shoulders by handling every legal aspect of your case.
If a drugged driver caused your car accident and injuries, call Your North Carolina Law Firm™ at (704) 333-1000 to schedule a free consultation. We’ll help you get back on your feet and move forward with your life.
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