Gibbs & Fuerst, LLP

Southern California Personal Injury & Business Lawyers

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Study notes opioid link to fatal crashes

For many California residents, the opiate epidemic has led to a number of concerns, including the danger of fatal overdoses or the growing trend of addiction to illegal drugs. Prescription opioid use could also lead to other consequences, including a potential link to deadly car accidents. One study indicated that drivers found to be responsible for fatal two-car crashes were nearly two times as likely to have prescription opiates in their system at the time of the accident as the driver of the other vehicle.

Alcohol was an even more common substance involved in these car accidents. Researchers studied 18,321 two-car crashes garnered from a federal database of deadly accidents. Of these, 5,258 of the drivers found at fault had alcohol in their systems at the time, as dd 1,815 of the drivers found not at fault in the crashes. On the other hand, 918 at-fault drivers tested positive for prescription opiates, in comparison to 549 of the not-at-fault drivers. Researchers noted that opiate use was more common than in the past; 2 percent of drivers at fault for fatal crashes had positive opioid tests in 1993, in comparison to 7.1 percent in 2016.

However, some doctors warned against overstating the link between prescription opiates and car accidents. While the research did not include positive tests for illicit opiates like heroin, some noted that people abuse prescription medicines. In addition, they noted that while chronic pain sufferers who use opiates may not see a decline in driving performance, people who use abuse them should not drive while taking the medications.

In many of the accidents, no substance use was detected, but negligent and dangerous driving remained a serious risk. People who have been injured in a collision caused by someone else's actions can work with a personal injury lawyer to seek compensation for their damages.

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