Though recent years have seen fewer opioid prescriptions being written, there seems to be evidence of an increase in opioid-related car crashes. In 1993, 2% of all crash initiators in California and across the U.S. were found with opioids in their systems, but in 2016, that percentage had risen to 7.1%.
It’s widely known that opioids cause psychomotor and cognitive impairment. Those who use the drug for chronic pain may not be affected as much because they develop a tolerance over time, but people who use them for acute injuries will certainly experience impairment. This includes dizziness and drowsiness, which are symptoms that are dangerous for any driver.
A study that was published in JAMA Network Open claims that in fatal two-car crashes, those deemed at fault were twice as apt as the other drivers to have opioids in their system. Researchers analyzed a group of 1,467 drivers involved in such crashes and found that 918 were crash initiators while 549 were not. They also found that veering out of one’s lane is the mistake that caused the most fatal two-car crashes.
Hydrocodone was the most frequently detected opioid, found in 32% of drivers, followed by morphine, found in 27%. Oxycodone (19%) and methadone (14%) rounded out the list, and the remaining 8% had other prescription opioids in their system.
When there is clear proof that opioids contributed to a fatal crash, the family of the decedent could file a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party. It is advisable, of course, to seek Costa Mesa legal representation for fatal auto accidents. A lawyer may help build up the case and then negotiate for a settlement out of court. If successful, the lawsuit could cover pre-death medical bills, if applicable; funeral and burial expenses; and loss of support or loss of consortium.