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Prescription Medicine And Car Accidents

Posted by Harlene Labrum | Oct 28, 2022


Prescription Medicine And Car Accidents

The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that drugs can cause car accidents. Recreational drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine often cause car crashes. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 12.6 million people operated vehicles under the influence of illegal drugs in 2018.  Studies have revealed that marijuana use doubled the risk of a car accident. Prescription drugs can also cause vehicle accidents. Legal prescription drug use while driving can be dangerous in some circumstances. Causing an accident under the influence of prescription drugs or recreational drugs may lead to civil liability. Victims of accidents in which the negligent driver used prescription drugs may be able to pursue compensation through a personal injury claim. Labrum Law understands the connection between prescription medicine and car accidents in Tennessee and how prescription medicine use can cause car accidents.. If you were injured by an impaired driver, consider contacting Labrum Law at (615) 338-9500 for a free consultation.

How Can Prescription Medicines Cause Car Accidents? 

Prescription medicines can alter brain function, reducing a person's ability to drive safely. The link between prescription medicine and car accidents stems from prescription drugs' side effects. Certain medications cause side effects that make driving hazardous. For example, some depressant prescription drugs cause brain function to slow down, resulting in poorer decisions and worsened motor control. For instance, benzodiazepines, a type of medication that treats anxiety and insomnia, and prescription opioids, drugs doctors prescribe for pain relief, can induce dizziness and drowsiness. They can also impair cognitive functioning, making it difficult to think clearly and make decisions.

Underscoring the dangerousness of taking opioids and driving, the Governors Highway Safety Association found that about ten percent of all drivers who died in car accidents tested positive for opioids, and opioids doubled the risk of car accidents. The most common opioids associated with driving fatalities are:

  • Oxycodone
  • Hydrocodone
  • Morphine
  • Fentanyl
  • Methadone.

Can Stimulants Cause Car Accidents? 

Like depressants, stimulant drugs cause brain function to change, creating risks with driving. 

Stimulants, such as dextroamphetamine, a combination product of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine, methylphenidate, and even diet pills, can speed up brain function. Stimulants cause greater risk-taking and impulsive decision-making, which can lead to hazardous driving and accidents. Stimulants can also cause sleeplessness and drowsy driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy driving resulted in approximately 91,000 crashes, 50,000 injuries, and 800 deaths in 2017.

Can Sleeping Pills Cause Car Accidents?

Another type of drug that can make driving dangerous is sleeping medication. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), sedative-hypnotics such as zolpidem have been shown to worsen driving ability. A person who takes a sedative-hypnotic at night may have difficulty driving the next morning safely. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control, tired driving causes drivers to exhibit slower reaction times and impaired attention and decision-making. 

Can Allergy Medicine Cause Car Accidents? 

According to the FDA, antihistamines, a common type of allergy medication, may impair driving. Antihistamines can make driving less safe in several ways, including:

  • Antihistamines may slow down reaction time.
  • Antihistamines may impair focus and make it difficult to think clearly.
  • Antihistamines may cause confusion.

Is Driving Under the Influence of Prescription Drugs Illegal in Tennessee? 

Tennessee law states that it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle on a public road under the influence of drugs and substances. This includes substances that impact the central nervous system and reduce mental clarity and self-control, which affect the driver's ability to drive safely. Thus, Tennessee's definition of drugs and substances is broad.

Driving under the influence of prescription drugs could constitute a violation of Tennessee law, but only if the drug impaired the driver's ability to operate the vehicle. Suppose a driver uses a car under the influence of a prescription opioid. As a result of the opioid, the driver feels dizzy and has trouble making safe decisions on the road. In this case, the driver may be guilty of driving under the influence because the prescription opioid interfered with the driver's ability to think clearly and operate the vehicle safely. 

Reckless Driving

Prescription stimulant drugs may cause reckless driving, a crime in Tennessee Under Tennessee law, drivers who exhibit a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property have committed reckless driving. 

Do Criminal Convictions Result in Compensation for Injured Victims?

Even if the driver who caused the accident is found guilty of driving under the influence, a victim will not usually receive compensation. Instead, a victim may have to pursue a claim against the negligent driver to receive compensation for injuries the victim sustained in the accident. However, a conviction of driving while under the influence may strengthen a victim's case. To learn more about personal injury claims against drivers who used prescription drugs, consider reaching out to Labrum Law. 

Can Car Accident Victims Hold Drivers Legally Liable for Prescription Drug Use?

Car accident victims may be able to hold drivers who caused accidents because of their prescription drug use legally responsible for the injuries they suffered. In order to hold the impaired driver accountable,   car accident victims may assert that drivers using prescription drugs were negligent.

All drivers owe each other a duty of care on the road. When a driver takes a prescription drug and operates a motor vehicle unsafely, the driver has breached this duty of care. If the driver caused the victim's injuries, the victim might hold the driver accountable and receive financial compensation. An injured car accident victim may prove negligence with the help of a personal injury attorney. If a driver deliberately disregarded warnings on the prescription label not to drive while using the drug, the victim may have a strong case against the driver. 

Tennessee Prescription Drug Car Accident Attorney 

Unfortunately, there is a link between prescription medicine and car accidents. Certain prescription drugs affect brain function, impacting a driver's attention, decision-making, and focus. Victims of accidents in which the negligent driver took prescription medications may be able to hold the driver legally responsible for the accident. To do so, they may wish to consider reaching out to the compassionate and experienced personal injury attorneys at Labrum Law at (615) 338-9500.

About the Author

Harlene Labrum

Harlene is focused and passionate about helping those injured in car wrecks.  She earned her J.D. at Nashville School of Law and her Bachelor's degree at State University of New York at Albany, awarded with the highest GPA and high honors.  Harlene began her career in law as a personal injury par...

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