Injured by a Connecticut Driver Under the Influence of Marijuana? We Can Help
State law clearly says that drugged driving is a type of driving under the influence, and drivers who cause a crash while high are subject to the same penalties as drivers who cause crashes while under the influence of alcohol.
Though medical marijuana has been legal in Connecticut since 2012, recreational marijuana use has only been permitted for a short period. The state legislature legalized the drug for recreational use in 2021, and retail marijuana sales started earlier this year.
This decision has ramifications for personal injury claims following a motor vehicle accident. Now that recreational marijuana possession, use, and sales are legal in Connecticut, police departments have expressed their concern that there might be an increase in impaired driving in the state. This, in turn, could lead to more crashes caused by drivers under the influence of marijuana.
State law clearly says that drugged driving is a type of driving under the influence, and drivers who cause a crash while high are subject to the same penalties as drivers who cause crashes while under the influence of alcohol. If you have been involved in a crash where marijuana was a factor, the skilled attorneys at Anderson Trial Lawyers can get you the settlement or verdict you deserve.
Marijuana’s effect on drivers
Marijuana use affects a driver’s cognitive functions, making it more difficult for them to operate a motor vehicle. The drug can impair a driver’s motor function, reaction time, tracking ability, and peripheral vision; it can also impede their decision-making abilities, judgment, and impulse control.
In short, marijuana makes a driver less capable of the complex process of operating a motor vehicle, less able to respond to road conditions, and more likely to make poor decisions or lose focus on driving. All of these factors increase the chances of a driver under the influence of marijuana being involved in an accident — especially if they have been using the drug together with other intoxicants such as alcohol.
Unfortunately, while the negative effects of alcohol use on driving ability are well-known and publicized, drivers are generally less aware of the impairment caused by marijuana. This is worsened by a common misconception that it’s safe to drive after using marijuana (or at least not as dangerous as driving drunk); some drivers even mistakenly believe their driving ability is improved when they’re high.
Connecticut’s DUI law
Connecticut’s law regarding driving under the influence is not limited to alcohol. The law states that a DUI offense is committed when driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug or both. This could be alcohol, marijuana, or cold medicine.
This means that drivers who operate a motor vehicle under the influence of marijuana are subject to the same criminal penalties as those who drive drunk, including the possibility of a license suspension, fines, or jail. They are also subject to liability in civil court, mainly through personal injury lawsuits.
Proving that a driver was under the influence of marijuana at the time of an accident is more challenging than proving that they were under the influence of alcohol. While a blood-alcohol test provides a relatively simple and reliable way to determine if a driver is impaired at the time of operation, there is no comparable test to determine if a driver is impaired by marijuana.
The effects of THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana, vary considerably from person to person. Someone with low levels of THC may be considerably impaired, while someone with high levels may show minimal signs of impairment. And since THC lingers in the bloodstream, someone can test positive for the compound well after any intoxicating effects have worn off. In sum, there is really no scientific method to connect the amount of THC in a driver’s bloodstream to impaired driving. Therefore, other factors must be investigated and preserved at the time of the crash.
The police report may include observations suggesting that the driver appeared to be high shortly after the crash, such as red eyes and sleepiness. Other witnesses may be able to show that the driver exhibited poor judgment consistent with being under the influence of marijuana. Physical evidence can also point to the effects of marijuana impairment, such as shorter skid marks indicating a slow reaction time.
The presence of marijuana in another driver’s vehicle doesn’t necessarily indicate that they were high at the time of the crash, since Connecticut law permits the possession and transportation of marijuana in a vehicle. However, marijuana can only be kept in the glove compartment or trunk when in a vehicle; if it was found in a more accessible location, this could help establish that they were using the drug during or shortly before the accident.
The consequences of a DUI accident
Just like a crash caused by a drunk driver, an accident caused by marijuana impairment can have serious consequences — including the possibility of wrongful death.
If you are injured by a driver who was under the influence of marijuana, we can help ensure that you receive compensation proportional to your losses. We work with medical professionals and economists to help quantify the financial impact of the accident on your life, including medical expenses, lost wages, and diminished quality of life.
If you or a loved one were involved in an accident you believe was caused by a driver operating under the influence, contact the attorneys at Anderson Trial Lawyers for a free consultation. Call us at 860-886-8845 or contact us online.
Personal Injury Claims — Is Your Claim Legitimate?
There have been many personal injury claims filed over unusual incidents. This doesn’t mean those claims are frivolous.
You may be reluctant to bring a personal injury claim, but not because you’re worried that you won’t prevail at trial or get treated fairly under the law. Instead, you may be worried that people will think your claim is frivolous.
“Frivolous lawsuit” is a term created by politicians and insurance companies to call into question the entire concept of seeking fair and reasonable compensation for real injuries caused by the negligence of another. There have been many personal injury claims filed over unusual incidents. This doesn’t mean those claims are frivolous. With more people on this planet, more cars on the road, and more products being advertised to us in a commercial world, honest people are being harmed and deserve to have their claims determined on the merits of their case.
Even if a personal injury claim seems strange, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is without merit. Perhaps the most famous example is the McDonald’s hot coffee case of 1994, in which an elderly woman named Stella Liebeck sued the fast food chain after spilling coffee on herself. Many people still believe that this case involved a greedy plaintiff who suffered a minor burn from carelessly handling a hot beverage, then exploited the injury to seek a huge settlement from a wealthy corporation.
The truth is much more complicated. Liebeck suffered third-degree burns over 16 percent of her body and was hospitalized for eight days. She only sued McDonald’s after the company repeatedly refused her requests to cover her medical bills. The trial also exposed how McDonald’s had been keeping its coffee dangerously hot (against industry safety standards) to maximize the number of cups of coffee it could get out of one pot, and hadn’t changed this practice even after the company became aware of hundreds of prior burn injuries. In other words, the trial brought out the greed of a fast food giant in the face of many people being injured by their product.
In the end, Liebeck asked the jury to send a message to McDonald’s. Liebeck prevailed in her claim, and McDonald’s was ordered to pay compensatory damages for her pain, suffering, and medical bills, as well as punitive damages.
The award was equal to one day’s coffee receipts for McDonald’s worldwide, which is why the number was so high. And this is what the insurance industry, politicians in the pockets of big business, and others that want to limit injured people’s rights access to the courts used to indoctrinate the general public — those that will eventually sit on juries. In actuality, the trial court reduced Liebeck’s award substantially under state law. The general public rarely heard about that, however.
Even if you’re worried that your personal injury claim may cause you embarrassment, this shouldn’t dissuade you from consulting with an attorney on the matter. If you have a legitimate personal injury claim and choose not to pursue it, you won’t be able to collect any damages from the negligent party — and you may be on the hook for any medical bills and other expenses.
Frivolous personal injury claims vs. illegitimate personal injury claims
Very few personal injury claims are actually considered frivolous. That’s because a frivolous claim is one the court determines to be a deliberate bad faith effort to harass a defendant. Frivolous lawsuits may attempt to tarnish a defendant’s reputation, cause embarrassment to a defendant, or bring media attention to an issue.
Courts consider personal injury claims to be frivolous if they are filed on grounds that are so flimsy that a reasonable person wouldn’t believe that the facts support the plaintiff’s case. A court may also consider a claim to be frivolous if it is not supported by existing laws, although the plaintiff may argue that they believe there is a good faith argument for their case to establish a new legal precedent.
In general, attorneys will never try to take a frivolous claim before a court. Here’s why:
- Bad reputation: Frivolous lawsuits cause stress and economic losses for the defendants and waste the court’s time. Attorneys don’t want to be responsible for this type of detrimental impact, or receive a poor reputation due to such claims.
- Wasted effort: Summary judgment decisions quickly dismiss frivolous claims so they stop taking up the court’s time. Attorneys are unlikely to spend time and effort preparing a claim if it’s destined to be quickly thrown out.
- Penalties: Attorneys filing frivolous cases can be fined, sued or even disbarred.
Many of the lawsuits that are held up as examples of frivolous claims are actually legitimate claims. They are advertised as frivolous even though a jury of honest people found the claim legitimate.
Is my claim legitimate?
A personal injury claim is legitimate if you have suffered an injury and can show, by a preponderance of the evidence, that this is due to a violation of law, policy or code, or the action—or lack of action—by the defendant. The strongest claims will clearly demonstrate that the defendant violated a long-standing rule and how the plaintiff has been affected (such as financial losses or the inability to continue enjoying certain activities).
In some cases, the evidence is clearly on the plaintiff’s side and a settlement can be reached quickly. However, most claims involve more complicated circumstances. The defendant may argue that they were not responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries, or that the plaintiff was partially if not completely responsible for their own injuries.
A defendant may also try to frame a plaintiff’s case as frivolous, and just this accusation can bias a jury against the plaintiff. A skilled attorney can push back against this argument and show how your personal injury claim has merit.
If you have any concerns over the legitimacy of your personal injury claim, consultation with an experienced attorney is a good place to start. This meeting is a chance to discuss your claim, what evidence you have to support it, and whether it is likely to succeed in court. To schedule a free consultation with Anderson Trial Lawyers, call 860-886-8845 or contact us online.