Thanks to extensive public awareness campaigns, most people understand the risks and illegality of drinking and driving. If you choose to drink alcohol or consume illicit drugs and then cause a car accident, you will be liable for any injuries resulting from that accident. Injured victims may be able to file a personal injury claim against the drunk or drugged driver to recover compensation for their losses. But what about liability in car accidents after prescription drug use?
Medical professionals prescribe drugs to help people with medical conditions overcome or compensate for their condition. However, prescription drugs -- and even over-the-counter (OTC) drugs -- often come with side effects, or adverse reactions. These side effects can cause a host of issues that could lead to impaired driving, such as:
- Blurred vision
- Excitability or agitation
- Impaired cognitive function
- Inability to focus or pay attention
- Slowed movement and reflexes
When a driver’s cognitive function is impaired, the driver may lose certain abilities critical to operating a vehicle such as vigilance, time and distance perception, reaction time, lane tracking, coordination and balance.
Prescription Medications Known to Affect the Ability to Drive
The FDA has identified common types of prescription and OTC drugs that are known to cause impairment for drivers. The side effects of these drugs can be compounded by the use of other drugs and alcohol, making driving even more dangerous. Some of these drugs include:
- Anti-seizure drugs
- Anxiety drugs
- Drugs containing codeine
- Motion sickness pills
- Muscle relaxants
- Opioid pain relievers
- Pills containing stimulants
- Sleeping pills
Keep in mind that some sleep medications, especially those with extended release, can impair a driver even the next day. This goes for both prescribed sleep medications as well as OTC sleep aids.
Is a Driver Under the Influence of Prescription Drugs Liable for a Car Accident?
In New Jersey, prescription drugs are controlled substances, only available through a medical professional. The government regulates these types of medications because they have the potential to be mind-altering, dangerous, or addictive in some way. If a person taking medication -- even if it’s legally prescribed -- fails to follow the warnings on the label and drives while impaired, they can be charged with driving under the influence. Further, the driver can be civilly liable for the losses incurred by injured victims.
Drugged Driving Lawsuits
Whether you were a passenger in the same vehicle as a drugged driver, if you were in another car, or if you were a pedestrian, you can file a lawsuit in order to obtain financial compensation for your injuries, or a wrongful death claim if you lost a family member. Your personal injury lawsuit will be targeted at recovering sufficient financial compensation to pay for all your expenses arising from the accident including medical expenses, lost wages and other intangible losses like pain and suffering.
Brandon J. Broderick, Car Accident Attorneys
If you were injured in a car accident and suspect or know the other driver may have been under the influence of a dangerous prescription or OTC drug, you should contact a car accident lawyer to understand your options. At the firm of Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law, our legal team will thoroughly investigate your case and build evidence to support your claim. We take pride in our mission to fight to protect the rights of those who have been injured through negligence or reckless disregard for human life. You deserve the support of an experienced advocate, and we will fight to recover substantial compensation for you. We can help. Contact us today for a free consultation.