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Opioids play possible role in some fatal two-car crashes

Opioid use is a factor in more auto accidents in Florida and across the U.S. In 1993, the percentage of crash initiators who tested positive for opioids was 2%. In 2016, that percentage was 7.1% Opioids are known to cause psychomotor and cognitive impairment, especially in those who are treating acute injuries and not used to the drugs’ effects.

JAMA Network Open has published the results of a study associating opioid use with a number of fatal two-car crashes. Researchers at Columbia University looked at the data for 18,321 such crashes in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System and focused on those drivers who tested positive for opioids. Of the 1,479 drivers who did so, 918 were to blame for their crash while 549 were not.

Of those drivers, 32% were found with hydrocodone in their system, followed by 27% with morphine, 19% with oxycodone and 14% with methadone. Regardless of whether opioids were involved or not, the error that led to the most fatal two-car crashes was that of drifting out of a lane: something that can easily happen under the influence of opioids.

Researchers did not differentiate between opioid use and abuse, which has resulted in criticism of the report. Critics point out that those on a chronic and stable opioid prescription can drive unimpaired.

Any car accidents that arise out of negligence could form the basis for a personal injury claim. Victims, for their part, may want a lawyer to evaluate the case before filing. In this state, one can file even if one is partially at fault, but that degree of fault will naturally lower whatever amount is recovered in damages. With a lawyer, victims may be able to achieve a fair settlement out of court. As a last resort, they might choose to litigate.

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