In recent years, the number of opioid prescriptions has risen in the United States. Opioids are a class of drug prescribed to manage pain. Prescription drugs apart from this class include oxycodone, morphine, tramadol, Fentanyl, and hydrocodone. In 1991, the number of opioid prescriptions written by clinicians was 76 million and in 2014 it increased to 300 million prescriptions. This increase in opioid use has now contributed to an increase in American’s operating motor vehicles under the influence of drugs.
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 11.8 million people have operated a vehicle under the influence of illicit drugs. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a 2010 nationwide study of deadly crashes found that 47 percent of drivers who tested positive for drugs had used a prescription drug. These drugs alter a person’s chemical makeup, which affects their ability to operate a vehicle, resulting in deadly accidents. Oftentimes, these drugs cause:
- Slow reaction timing;
- Mental fog;
- Inability to concentrate;
- Deceased coordination;
- Dizziness; and
If you or someone you love has died or has been seriously injured in a car accident as a result of a driver consuming medication that altered their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle, he or she can be held liable. A person may recover damages for their injuries under the legal theory of negligence, which means that the defendant failed to use the standard of care that a reasonably prudent person under similar circumstances would have used and, as a result of this failure, the plaintiff was injured. To prove negligence, a person must show:
- The defendant had a duty of care;
- The duty of care was breached;
- The breach was a direct cause of the accident; and
- The plaintiff was harmed.
Also, under New Jersey State law, a family member of a decedent may recover damages under a wrongful death claim if their loved one was killed as a result of the defendant’s negligence.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a car accident as a result of someone operating a vehicle under the influence of prescription drugs, it is important to contact an experienced New Jersey personal injury and wrongful death lawyer who can best advise you of your legal rights. The attorneys at Rinaldo Law Group have successfully represented clients in numerous personal injury and wrongful death cases. With offices conveniently located in Elizabeth, Newark, Springfield, Freehold, Jersey City, Mount Laurel, Englewood Cliffs, and New York City, the firm’s attorneys represent clients throughout New Jersey, New York, and the tri-state area. For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact our New Jersey personal injury lawyers at 1-833-RINALDO (1-833-746-2536).