Drug Impairment Car Accidents in Washington, D.C.
Drug-impaired driving is a dangerous problem that’s gaining increased national attention. Many Americans know alcohol-impaired drivers are dangerous. Yet, few realize that drunk driving has decreased, while the drugged driving problem has exploded. A recent Baltimore case highlighted the tragic impact drug-impaired drivers can have on families.
One morning, Deborah Limmer decided to take a walk with her granddaughter Delany Gaddis. Limmer was pushing the five-year-old in a stroller when an SUV veered off road and pummeled onto the sidewalk. The accident killed them. Police allege that the 22-year-old driver, Callie Noble Schwartzman, was high on illegal drugs and alcohol. Witnesses said the defendant drove erratically at a high speed.
Noble-Schwartzman was already on probation for a previous 2017 DUI arrest. A judge ordered the young woman to abstain from all drugs and alcohol. She reportedly didn’t follow the judge’s order. The defendant allegedly admitted to smoking marijuana, drinking alcohol, and taking a Percocet the night before the crash. Noble-Schwartzman reportedly said she was driving to a methadone clinic when the accident happened. Prosecutors charged her with driving while impaired by alcohol and controlled dangerous substances. She also faces negligent manslaughter and homicide charges.
Violent, drug-related crashes can wreck people’s lives without warning. Some relatives lose their loved ones, as the Limmer family did. Others must deal with serious injuries that leave them disabled. As they heal from the accident, most injured people miss work or lose their jobs. Since victims no longer have an income, they can’t pay daily expenses like their rent or utilities. In addition, these people suffer from deep psychological wounds that may not readily heal.
Has a drug-impaired driver injured you in a car crash? You’re within your rights to seek justice. Speak with an Abelson Law Firm attorney today. Washington, D.C. car accident attorney Michael A. Abelson will review your claim. He helps get his clients the justice they deserve.
You can collect the compensation you’re entitled to if your case is successful. Contact us to schedule an appointment, or call (202) 331-0600.
Washington, D.C. Car Accident Lawyer
The Abelson Law Firm is a practice that works with many car crash victims. Attorney Michael A. Abelson has seen, firsthand, the physical and psychological wreckage drugged drivers can cause. His firm fights for victims to get the compensation they need to pay medical costs, personal expenses, and other damages.
His legal peers have recognized our professional commitment to clients. The D.C. Trial Lawyers Association recognized Michael A. Abelson as “Lawyer of the Year” for the D.C. Area. Martindale-Hubbell also awarded Mr. Abelson its highest AV Rating.
What Is Drug-Impaired Driving?
Drug-impaired driving occurs when a person drives under the influence of prescription or illegal drugs. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says these drugs impair their judgment and ability to drive. Taking drugs has the same effect as consuming alcohol. Most drugged drivers can’t judge if they’re impaired or not. When law enforcement officers pull high drivers over, they can also charge them with DUIs.
In 2014, 10 million people aged 12 years or older admitted to driving under the influence of prescription drugs. The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) released a report on drug-related driving accidents. The study, called Drug-Impaired Driving, found:
- 6 percent of DUI drivers tested positive for drugs. This was a steep increase from 2015 when 43.0 percent of drivers were drug-positive. In 2006, only 27.8 percent of DUI drivers had controlled substances in their systems.
- The GHSA learned 37.9 percent of DUI drivers tested positive for alcohol. This is a decrease from 38.0 percent in 2015. In 2006, 41 percent of DUI drivers had alcohol-positive results.
- The organization found 50.5 percent of DUI drivers tested positive two or more drugs. They discovered 40.7 percent tested positive for both controlled substances and alcohol.
The misuse of prescription drugs puts drivers, passengers, and pedestrians in danger. Right now, there are no dependable roadside tests to measure drug levels in a driver’s system. Police don’t test for them, because they usually have enough evidence to charge an impaired person with a DUI.
Common Drugs Associated with Car Crashes
The Food and Drug Administration says these medications and illicit drugs can impair drivers. The Governor’s Highway Association said drugged driving is a more complicated problem than drunk driving:
- Drugged driving may involve many types of drugs, as compared to alcohol-related drunk driving.
- Drugged driving continues to increase, while drunk driving has decreased across America.
- Impairment varies by type in drugged driving, while alcohol has well-documented symptoms.
- Drunk driving is socially unacceptable, while there are less-firm attitudes about drug-impaired driving.
Officers and traffic investigators may find one or more of these substances in the bodies of DUI drivers:
- Antihistamines – These medications treat cold and allergy symptoms. This includes sneezing, watery eyes, runny noses, and irritated throats. Some antihistamines cause drowsiness. The active ingredients in antihistamines include diphenhydramine (used in Benadryl).
- Anti-emetics: Physicians use these drugs to treat vomiting, nausea, and motion sickness. Additionally, they’re an effective treatment side effects related to chemotherapy, opioids, and anesthesia.
- Marijuana – After alcohol, marijuana is the most common drug linked to drugged driving. This herb can slow the reaction time of drivers and decrease their coordination. Additionally, it can impair someone’s judgment of time and distance. Tests that detect marijuana measure the level of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is the mind-altering ingredient in the herb. Marijuana becomes a risk when it’s combined with other drugs like alcohol, cocaine, or benzodiazepines.
- Cocaine and methamphetamine – These drugs can make drivers reckless and aggressive.
- Opioids and prescription painkillers – The Substance Abuse and Medical Health Services Administration researches the U.S. drug addiction problem. In their 2014, the federal agency released their National Survey on Drug Use and Health study. they discovered 3 million non-medical people use prescription painkillers. Almost 2 million of these people have substance abuse disorders. The pain medications involved are opioids like morphine and codeine. A National Safety Council study found that 4 to 6 percent of prescription pain abusers become heroin users later.
- Sedatives – Certain sedatives, like benzodiazepines, can cause drowsiness and dizziness.
Drugged Driving Injuries
The trauma associated with drug-impaired driving is no different from violent alcohol-related crashes. Here is a list of common injuries victims may suffer in accidents:
Car crashes can leave their marks on victims, no matter how minor. Non-catastrophic injuries can include:
- Sprains – Doctors refer to these injuries as torn or stretched ligaments.
- Strains – Physicians call these damaged tendons or muscles.
- Broken bones – Most victims are likely to receive broken legs (tibia or fibula fractures) during a high-impact collision. They can also femur fractures, broken ribs, or hips.
- Minor abrasions – These are superficial skin wounds.
- Whiplash – This soft-tissue injury occurs when a violent force jolts the victim’s head back and forth. The injury can cause severe headaches, blurred vision, dizziness, and jaw pain.
- Concussions – These are mild traumatic brain injuries that temporarily affect the brain. They’re caused by a blow to the head of shaking to the body. Physicians diagnose more than 3 million patients with concussions every year.
A catastrophic injury causes serious damage to the spine, spinal cord, or brain. This serious physical damage can leave a person with lifelong disabilities. These accidents can cause the following trauma:
- Traumatic amputations – This is the loss of a limb through violent trauma. Amputations usually involve the fingers, but it can involve an entire limb. Sometimes, doctors can reattach the limb. It depends on the severity of the injury.
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) – Car crashes are a common cause of TBIs. This is brain dysfunction caused by an outside blow to the head. TBIs can cause long-term cognitive problems, repeated headaches, seizures, and disabilities. Some TBI patients experience changes in personality changes and memory problems.
- Back injuries – Lumbar sprains can occur due to excessive force on the back. Spinal stenosis can also occur. It is an abnormal narrowing in the column that houses the spine can also occur. Others include degenerative spinal disorders and discogenic pain.
- Burns – These are common crash-related injuries. This tissue damage results from automobile fires. The most severe ones. are third and fourth-degree ones, which can cause organ, nerve, and skin damage.
- Crushed bones – Compression in crashes causes this injury. Victims can suffer renal failure after they a crushing injury to a limb.
- Disfigurements – Car crashes can cause lacerations, scars, and burns that disfigure. The victim may need to undergo many reconstructive surgeries.
- Internal organ damage – Penetrating injuries can damage organs like the kidneys, spleen, and liver.
- Spinal cord injuries and paralysis – SCIs involves damage to the spinal cord and nerves at the end of the canal. They cause permanent paralysis. changes in strength, sensation, and body function. There are two types. Tetraplegia, also known as quadriplegia, affects all four limbs and the trunk. Paraplegia only affects the body’s lower half. SCIs can also be complete or incomplete injuries. Complete SCIs cause patients to lose all sensation and movement below the affected area. Some sensory function remains in incomplete SCIs.
Damages in Drunk Driving Incidents
Car crash victims can sue drugged drivers for damages they suffered as a result of the accident. The law has two classes of damages: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages refer to financial costs caused by the accident. These include:
- Medical treatments (past and future)
- Lost income
- Property damages
Non-economic damages refer to the intangible cost to the families These include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of consortium
- Lost enjoyment of life
D.C. DUI Cases and Contributory Negligence
Most national jurisdictions use comparative negligence to determine recovery in car crash cases. Courts may assign a certain percentage of fault to the plaintiff or defendant. In Washington, D.C. the courts follow the doctrine of contributory negligence. Contributory negligence differs from comparative negligence. The courts may bar an injured person from recovering damages if they’re even 1 percent responsible. This statute even applies to drunk driving cases.
Insurers may prevent you from collecting damages by claiming you shared some fault. They’ll visit the hospital and collect a statement from you. These professionals will your words as evidence against you.
You likely can’t collect a judgment if the courts find you even partly at fault. Don’t talk to insurers or their lawyers. Hire The Abelson Law Firm. We can advocate your case and protect your interests.
A Drug-Impaired Driver Hit Me. How Do I Hire a Lawyer?
The Abelson Law Firm works on a contingency basis. We won’t charge fees for representation unless we win. Washington, D.C. car crash attorney Michael A. Abelson will only collect fees from any settlement or judgment you receive.
Hire an Experienced D.C. Car Crash Attorney
Are you the victim of a careless, drugged driver? The Abelson Law Firm will review the facts of your case during a free consultation. If we find you have a claim, we’re ready to defend your interests. Contact us today to speak with D.C. car crash attorney Michael A. Abelson or call (202) 331-0600.