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KNR Legal Blog
In 2016, Ohio House Bill 523 permitted the use of medical marijuana for specific medical conditions. While this has brought relief to many, it has also raised concerns about increased car accidents and OVIs linked to marijuana use.
Even though medical marijuana can be prescribed, it does not equate to immunity. Anyone driving under the influence of marijuana can still face charges and civil liability, even if they are using it medicinally. Medical marijuana use also introduces new legal complexities when users become involved in car accidents, even if they are not under the influence during the collisions.
At KNR, our Ohio car accident lawyers have explored the potential effect medical marijuana use can have on car accident claims in Ohio. Whether you are a patient using cannabis or a driver on Ohio’s roads, it’s essential to understand how this law can influence an insurance claim, possible settlements, and liability.
Driving under the influence of substances like alcohol or drugs is illegal in Ohio. This extends to medical marijuana. Even though qualified patients are permitted to use medical marijuana, reckless or careless driving under its influence could still result in DUI charges.
The consequences of driving under the influence of marijuana in Ohio can range from fines, jail, and suspension of driver’s license, to mandatory drug treatment. The severity of these penalties also increases dramatically if a car accident related to your marijuana use results in injuries.
Next to alcohol, cannabis is the second most common substance in connection with auto accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drivers under the influence of marijuana are 25% more likely to be involved in a crash than drug-free drivers. According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, this resulted in 1,311 marijuana-related crashes in 2020.
Although Ohio may handle criminal charges related to a car accident where the at-fault driver was under the influence of marijuana, it does not assist victims in obtaining compensation. Victims must seek financial compensation either from the at-fault driver’s insurance company or through a personal injury lawsuit.
Regardless if the at-fault driver was a qualified medical cannabis user if you suspect they were impaired and you or a loved one were injured, you should speak to a lawyer about compensation.
As a car accident victim, it is crucial to note that your status as a medical marijuana patient could potentially impact your claim. Even if you were not impaired or at fault during the accident, the other side’s legal team might use your medical marijuana status against you to reduce your compensation.
If drug tests conducted post-accident reveal the presence of marijuana, it could complicate your claim even if you were not impaired at the time of the accident. Moreover, during the discovery phase of a lawsuit, your medical records might be accessed, potentially revealing your status as a medical marijuana patient.
There’s usually a thorough investigation after a car accident to determine the cause and assign liability. Part of this investigation may include drug testing of the individuals involved, even if there is no immediate suspicion of impaired driving.
If you are a medical marijuana patient, a post-accident drug test could reveal THC in your system. This might complicate your accident claim, even if you were not impaired or at fault.
THC can remain in the body for an extended period after consumption, often days or weeks. However, insurance companies or opposing legal teams may argue that your cognitive and motor abilities were compromised, contributing to the accident. If successful, this would at least reduce their potential liability and what they’d be required to pay in compensation.
Another important part of the legal process is the discovery phase of a lawsuit when both sides gather evidence. This may lead to your medical records coming under scrutiny. Typically, insurance is looking for ways to diminish the severity of your injuries or that they were caused by the accident.
Ultimately, your records might reveal your status as a medical marijuana patient. The opposing side may argue that as a regular user, you were more likely under the influence of the accident, despite the lack of concrete proof of impairment. This is important because Ohio law follows a “modified comparative negligence” system, which reduces the compensation you can receive by your degree of fault in the accident. For instance, if you are deemed 20% at fault, compensation would be reduced by 20%. If your marijuana use is successfully argued as a contributing factor, it could decrease what you can recover.
It’s important to note that while medical marijuana can complicate a claim after an accident, it should not prevent you from seeking what you are entitled to legally. Every case is unique, and there is a lot an experienced personal injury attorney can do. This includes fighting to ensure that your legal, medical marijuana use is not unfairly used against you, protecting your interests if a high driver hurts you, and advocating for the maximum possible compensation.
Suppose you’re a medical marijuana patient, but another driver crashed into your vehicle because they were reckless. Even if a drug test detects THC in your system, an attorney can argue that the substance’s long-lasting nature doesn’t indicate impairment that would influence the accident. They can support this with expert testimonies and comprehensive evidence like the speeding ticket given to the other driver to prove their liability.
Further, your attorney can counter efforts to use your medical marijuana status against you. They will uphold your legal right to use cannabis, emphasize that you weren’t impaired, and focus on the other driver’s negligence.
Your lawyer will also meticulously calculate your damages, including economic and non-economic losses, so the other side doesn’t confuse things under Ohio’s comparative fault standard.
At Kisling, Nestico & Redick, we will aggressively counter the other side’s assertions that your medical marijuana use was more significant than the at-fault driver’s actions. Armed with experience and a thorough understanding of Ohio personal injury law, we’ll gather compelling evidence, utilize expert witnesses, and highlight the other party’s negligence.
To find out more about your options and to discuss your case, don’t hesitate to contact KNR’s Ohio car accident lawyers at 1-800-HURT-NOW or submit a request online. We offer 100% free consultations, don’t charge upfront fees, and there’s no cost unless you recover compensation.