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Opioid use a possible factor in fatal two-car collisions

Residents of California who take opioids are no doubt familiar with their effects, which include psychomotor and cognitive impairment. This is especially true for those who are treating acute injuries like burns and broken bones whereas those on a chronic, stable prescription can develop a tolerance for the drugs and not be as affected.

The fact remains, though, that many opioid users go out on the road and endanger others. In 1993, 2% of all car crash initiators had opioids in their system. In 2016, it was 7.1%. Not only that, but a recent study is associating opioid use with many fatal two-car crashes. The results were published by JAMA Network Open.

Researchers looked at thousands of fatal two-car collisions recorded in NHTSA's Fatality Analysis Reporting System and pinpointed 1,479 drivers who tested positive for opioids. It turns out that nearly twice as many of these opioid users initiated the crash compared to other drivers: 918 versus 549. The opioids most commonly found in drivers were hydrocodone at 32%, morphine at 27%, oxycodone at 19% and methadone 14%.

Failure to stay in one's lane was the driver error most to blame in these and other fatal two-car crashes. Incidentally, opioids cause drowsiness, which can easily lead to drivers drifting out of their lane.

Those who are injured at the hands of an opioid-using driver may have grounds for a personal injury case, but a lot depends on the proof there is of the other side's negligence. Even with sufficient proof, victims may face strong opposition from the insurance companies. For these and other reasons, victims might want legal representation. It all starts with a case evaluation. If retained, the lawyer may handle negotiations, taking the case to court if a settlement isn't achieved.

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