Can Marijuana Use Cause You To Lose A Personal Injury Lawsuit?

With Oregon recently joining Washington and Colorado as states that legally permit personal use of marijuana and medical marijuana patients in almost every state, more questions are cropping up about the effects of the drug. Can you prove that you were not under the influence if you are involved in an accident?

If you are in an accident and have been drinking alcohol, blood alcohol tests can reliably show how much was in your system. But with marijuana, tests only show if you've been exposed to the drug recently. It's much more difficult to pinpoint when someone consumed the drug.

Your Past Marijuana Use

Let's say you legally use marijuana, as an adult, in a state where it is legal. You don't drive anywhere and you make sure no one you are partaking with does either. No problems yet, right?

Fast forward a couple of days to when you are a driver involved in a major car accident. Both you and the other driver may bear some responsibility for the accident, but it's primarily the fault of the other person. You should have your medical bills, time you're off work, vehicle damage, etc., covered by the other person.

Then you find out -- through your insurance company or your lawyer -- that the other person's insurance company says you're actually to blame because you'd consumed marijuana before the accident. They may have determined this through:

  • A drug test. If the accident is bad enough, police officers who respond to the scene may have hospitalized patients take drug tests. Tests for marijuana can only determine that you've had the drug recently, not whether you were high at the time of the accident, but the other insurance company or other party's lawyers can claim that you were.
  • Medical records. If you are a medical marijuana patient, your medical records will indicate that (and, by the way, any other prescription medications you take may be blamed by your opposition). It could be suggested that you were under the influence, even if you were not at the time you were driving.
  • Drug arrests. Have you ever been arrested or cited for drug offenses in the past? These might make it look like you are often abusing drugs and/or running afoul of the law.

How to Prove Your Case

In order to have a chance of winning your case, you will need to consult an experienced personal injury attorney who specializes in these types of defenses. You may need to incorporate some or all of the following:

  • Testimony from your doctor (if you are a medical marijuana patient)
  • A test that shows the precise quantities of marijuana in your system
  • Testimony from an expert about the effects of marijuana on people for medical reasons or responsible recreational use.

Talk to your attorney for more information on the laws in your state and how they might affect the outcome of a personal injury case. For any kind of personal injury case, it is important to contact a local lawyer. One you may consider is Teresa P Williams PA.