When dealing with lawsuits, drugs can sometimes come into play and change the game. This is especially true in cases where somebody has taken drugs and an accident happened as a result. The NHTSA was recently cited as having released information on two new studies, which were done on impaired driving on U.S. roads. They discovered that the number of drivers with alcohol in their system has declined by nearly one-third since 2007, but that there was a large increase in the number of drivers using marijuana and other illegal drugs while driving. It is no wonder that we hear about cases all the time arising in the news. (1)
A recent case made news surrounding details of drug usage and a defective tire. A driver, Malik, and four others were riding in a minivan on I-64 in Big Mound, Illinois in 2009. The passengers heard a “pop” sound from the left rear tire, according to the suit, and the vehicle left the road. Malik was riding in the back seat and was ejected from the vehicle. A case was brought against Cooper Tire and Rubber Co. claiming that a tire defect had caused the crash that left the plaintiff paralyzed. Cooper wanted to introduce expert testimony that the driver was impaired from marijuana usage and that he would have been able to safely bring the minivan to a stop if he had not been using the drug while driving.
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However, it was recently decided by a federal judge in Newark that this evidence couldn’t be introduced in the suit. However, the judge has decided that evidence can be introduced that the driver’s errors contributed to the crash, and may seek to apportion some liability to the driver in this case. The reason why the marijuana usage can’t be used in the trial is because its probative value is weak. This means that the jury is likely to be inflamed by evidence of use of intoxicating substances. The value of the argument is quite weak due to the fact that a significant amount of time passed between the marijuana usage and the accident. There is no standard for measuring marijuana impairment to date, and when it applies to this particular case, nobody could estimate with a high degree of accuracy what impact the marijuana had on the driving.
What can be used as evidence against the driver is that Cooper claims that they can demonstrate what a reasonable person could have done in the specific situation and compare his actions taken to the reasonable standard of care. They also say that the tire in question was five years old and was overinflated. It was also showing signs of impact damage. It is believed that state law will permit the driver to collect the full amount of any award from Cooper if the jury apportions less than 40 percent of fault to the driver’s actions behind the wheel. (2) It is important to keep up with the laws of the specific states to see where you possibly stand if you have an accident case. Many things could be decided once you go on trial and you will need an attorney you trust on your side to defend your rights!