Everyone knows the dangers of operating a vehicle while drunk or under the effects of illegal drugs. Even completely legal medications prescribed by a doctor can still pose a serious safety risk, however. While many medications are safe to take before hitting the road, others may directly interfere with the mental processes and fine motor skills required to navigate Philadelphia’s streets.
How Prescription Medications Lead to Car Accidents
Most people will be prescribed some kind of medication in their lifetime without experiencing any particular problems. Reaction to a medication can vary widely between patients, however. It can also change over time in situations when someone goes off medication for a period and then begins taking it again.
Certain prescriptions produce side effects that can easily impair the ability to drive, like the drowsiness or cognitive impairment that is associated with strong painkillers, sleep aids, or even allergy medication. Stimulants, antidepressants, and antianxiety medication can also affect your judgment and ability to concentrate. Even when taken exactly as your doctor instructs, some medicines simply make it unsafe for a patient to drive if the side effects are too strong.
The danger increases when a patient’s prescription medication interacts unexpectedly with other substances. Over-the-counter herbal settlements or additional prescription medications for other conditions may create unintended side effects when taken at the same time. Worsening side effects are a particular concern when prescription medications are combined with mind-altering substances such as alcohol or illegal narcotics.
Some prescription drugs, either on their own or when mixed with extra substances, potentially have negative effects that impact the ability to drive safely, like:
- Blurred vision
- Cognitive impairment issues such as brain fog, confusion, distractibility, difficulty understanding traffic signs or concentrating on the flow of traffic, and memory loss.
- Difficulty judging depth perception
- Dizziness and disorientation
- Loss of consciousness at the wheel
- Reduced reaction time
How to Handle a Car Accident Caused by a Driver Taking Prescription Drugs
When a negligent driver causes an accident while under the influence of any kind of drug, the victims are at risk of serious and potentially permanent injuries. Those risks are particularly high when drugged drivers cause head-on collisions or when an accident takes place on the highway at top speed.
Prescription drug-related crashes may leave you recovering from bone fractures, bruises, and lacerations, soft tissue damage, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord trauma, or other wounds. Obviously, any of these injuries can significantly impact your ability to work or go about normal daily activity. That’s why you need an attorney to represent you after any car crash with a drugged driver.
After alerting law enforcement about the crash and then visiting a doctor, the most important call you will make is to a personal injury attorney who has experience in Pennsylvania car crash cases. While the at-fault driver may admit to taking medications with dangerous side effects at the scene, it’s more likely your attorney will need to gather that evidence by investigating the cause of the crash and gathering medical records.
Simply taking prescription medication alone doesn’t automatically make the other driver liable for your damages. Prescription medication use can be part of the negligent behavior that caused the accident, however, whether the other driver failed to yield, drifted into the wrong lane, passed out while driving, or so on.
Besides determining who is specifically at fault, your attorney’s job is to prove your injury was directly caused by that person’s negligence, and then to pursue compensation through a settlement or court judgment. The full and fair amount you are owed is determined by how severely the accident impacted your life and can cover damages like:
- Pain and suffering after the accident
- Wages lost when you can’t return to work due to the injury
- Bills for your medical costs after the crash, as well as potential future medical costs
- Property damage to your vehicle
- Wrongful death if a loved one died in the crash
Were You Hurt by a Driver Under the Effects of Prescription Drugs?
If you suspect the negligent driver was under the influence of either a prescription drug or an illegal narcotic at the time of the accident, you need to contact a lawyer as soon as possible to file a lawsuit within Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations. Schedule a free consultation with Heslin Law Firm today to discuss your case and find out how we can help protect your legal rights.