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Prescription Drug DUI and Liability in Arizona: The Value of a Car Accident Attorney

By Karnas Law Firm |

Almost half of US drivers report recent use of prescription medicines. A worrying statistic, considering the effect that many prescription medications have on our ability to drive safely. Arizona law does not preclude driving under the influence of prescription medicines. But where these medicines influence a driver’s ability to take the duty of care necessary to handle their vehicle safely, they may be guilty of negligence. 

If you or a family member have been involved in a traffic accident where you suspect prescription medications played a part, contact an experienced car accident attorney to see if you may have grounds for a claim of negligence against them. 

The Dangers of Driving With Prescription Drugs

Many of the most commonly prescribed medications in the US affect our ability to drive safely. In a recent study of almost 5 million Canadian drivers, SSRI medications–those most commonly prescribed to treat depression–were associated with a 12-20% increase in crash responsibility, while benzodiazepines–commonly used to treat anxiety–increased crash responsibility by 20-38% and high potency opioids–used for moderate to severe pain–were associated with a 17-30% increase. While these risk factors are lower than those associated with alcohol consumption, they contribute greater risk than many recreational drugs, such as THC and illegal drugs.

How do prescription medicines contribute to greater crash responsibility? They’re associated with many side effects that impact a driver’s ability to drive safely: dizziness, sleepiness, fainting, blurred vision, slowed movement, and attention problems. And, when multiple prescription medicines are taken simultaneously, these symptoms can be more pronounced. For some drivers, especially those who already struggle to drive safely in an unmedicated state, the addition of one or more prescription medications can be disastrous. 

Claiming Negligence Can Help Following an Arizona Car Accident

Proving the other party to your car accident was negligent can increase your rights to compensation following a car accident in Arizona. This is especially the case in a serious accident where the extent of the injuries, lost earnings or property damage are far in excess of the insurer’s payout limit. 

Following a car accident in Arizona, you typically file a compensation claim against the at-fault driver’s insurer, proportionate to their share of fault in the accident. You may also turn to your own insurer, for Personal Injury Protection (PIP), Medical Payments (MedPay) or UM coverage. In all these cases, the maximum amount of compensation will likely be capped. Also, you’re unlikely to be able to claim compensation for non-monetary losses, such as for pain and suffering, and emotional distress.

If your car accident attorney can prove the other driver was negligent and in breach of their onus of care to other road users, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against them. This lets you claim for non-economic damages and it allows you to recover compensation for the full amount of the damages incurred. 

How an Arizona Car Accident Attorney Can Help You

It’s not against Arizona law to drive under the influence of prescription medicine. But it is a crime to drive when you know, or should reasonably know, that you aren’t able to do so safely. When a driver is unable to pass a standardized field sobriety test–regardless of whether under the influence of alcohol, illicit drugs or prescription medicine–they’re not fit to drive. 

Many users of prescription medications receive no or insufficient warning from their prescribing physician of the dangers these drugs pose to their driving. But most of the time, a driver should be expected to know when their driving ability is sufficiently impaired to pose a risk to other road users. 

At Karnas Law Firm, we investigate every avenue to ensure you receive the full compensation you have the right to. This includes investigating whether the driver who injured you was under the influence of prescription medicine and whether their actions were negligent. We make use of a range of evidence, including reports from our crash scene investigators, eyewitness testimonies of witnesses, and any video footage that can be found leading up to the accident. 

Let Karnas Law Firm Represent You

If you or a family member have been involved in a car accident with a driver who may have been under the influence, Karnas Law Firm will take your fight. With over 30 years of experience and 10,000 clients served, we know Arizona law. Our car accident attorneys will ensure your rights to compensation are fully realized. 

From our offices in Phoenix, Yuma and Tucson, we serve clients throughout Arizona. For a free consultation with our team, call 520-214-8343 or schedule a free consultation online.