Opioid Epidemic Conversation Must Include Road Safety

The opioid epidemic in America has gotten a lot of media exposure, but one of the more hidden aspects of the problem is the impact it is having on auto accidents. According to some estimates, the number of drug-related auto accidents have surpassed the number of drunk driving crashes.

From October 2016 to July 2017, National Medical Services Labs (NMS) in Pennsylvania detected carfentanil, an opioid, in 355 blood samples that were sent in from 30 U.S. states and parts of Canada. Some of the samples were taken from drivers who were arrested for driving under the influence.

Carfentanil, which is a tranquilizer for large animals, and its related drug, fentanyl, are opioids that are much stronger than morphine. According to some estimates, fentanyl can be up to 100 times more potent than morphine, while carfentanil may be 10,000 times more powerful. These drugs can cause severe drowsiness and impair judgment while driving.

The mere idea that people who have these dangerous sedative drugs in their systems and are driving is alarming, to say the least. And worse, fatal car accidents where drivers were on carfentanil could be underreported, some say. Drug testing laboratories are faced with challenges when they are testing for minute quantities of drugs that can lead to fatal car accidents.

In the United States, it is estimated that more than 20,000 deaths were related to fentanyl and related drug overdoses in 2016. This was a 540% increase in deaths related to fentanyl since 2013, the New York Times recently reported. CBS also reported in 2017 that there was a sevenfold increase in the number of drivers killed in car accidents while on prescription painkillers.

The United States is not the only country that is struggling with opioid overdoses and auto accidents related to them. In July 2017, a driver in Canada on some type of fentanyl derivative hit nine vehicles with his minivan in only 15 minutes. One of the first responders to that accident scene said that the problems on Canadian roads from fentanyl users are very serious.

Because of new officer training programs, Canadian police were able to determine that the driver was high on opioids. They then were able to administer countermeasure drugs so the man’s life was saved. U.S. law enforcement is also getting this type of training that could help to save lives when drivers on opioids are stopped on American roads.

Legal Options in Car Accidents With Under-the-Influence Driver

There is no question the opioid epidemic has led to a spike in the number of car accidents caused by drivers high on various types of prescription painkillers. If you have been in a car accident where the other driver was under the influence of drugs, you have a good chance of obtaining compensation for your injuries. You may want to file a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver.

However, before you file a lawsuit, you may find the first option is to have your attorney talk settlement with the driver’s auto insurance company. All states require drivers to maintain a certain level of auto insurance. If you decide to file a third-party claim against the other driver’s insurance, you could get a good settlement offer. This is even more likely if you are represented by an experienced personal injury attorney.

If the other driver is convicted of DWI, you will have a very good case. Insurance companies know that if the driver is convicted, a sympathetic jury could cause them to have to pay a lot more than if they settle.

Remember to have your opioid-related car accident case reviewed by a licensed personal injury attorney in your state. That way, you will know if you have a good case for potential compensation.