California, like many other states, is still getting used to the new legality of recreational marijuana use. When it became legal, not much else changed with it. Yet, it still has some important implications in various areas, including the realm of personal injury litigation. The question that is on everyone’s mind is how legal marijuana use affects their personal injury case.
It is best to now think of marijuana in a similar vein to alcohol. Both have the ability to impair a person’s judgment and ability to make decisions, but both are also quite legal to use. Furthermore, like alcohol, you are not legally allowed to drive if it has impaired your judgment and care.
Personal Injury When Injured By a Marijuana User
If you were, for example, sitting at a red light and a car slams into your rear end, they were clearly the negligent party in this accident. Maybe they didn’t slow down enough or didn’t even notice that the light was red. Regardless, they are negligent in the accident and you can pursue them for compensation for both your medical bills and damage to your car.
If the person was impaired by marijuana at the time of the accident, this doesn’t change anything for you as the victim. They will still likely also face criminal charges despite the legality of the substance as they were driving while impaired. So in this regard, the legality of marijuana changes nothing.
Personal Injury When Injured As a Marijuana User
Alternatively, say you were a pedestrian who had smoked some perfectly legal marijuana in your home and decided to walk down the block to a shop. If you were crossing at the crosswalk with the right away and hit by a car that didn’t stop, they are still the negligent party. You were not driving under the influence and had the sound judgment to follow pedestrian crossing laws. You did nothing wrong, and unlike the example above where the impaired person was operating a vehicle, you will face no criminal charges for it.
However, in this circumstance where you were the one under the influence of legal marijuana, it still comes with some complications for your personal injury case. Though legal, the insurance company that will pay for your damages will still try to claim that you were impaired, and in turn, were negligent or at least shared negligence. In these cases, you will need to work a little bit harder to get full compensation. You will be faced with a higher burden of proving that you had done nothing wrong. However, even if you had been sober, you would still likely be shouldered with this burden.
In these cases, witnesses and traffic cams can be crucial to proving that you had the right of way to cross and the vehicle was being the negligent one in the situation. Although marijuana is now legal in California and many other states, it still has that same stigma that insurance companies will try and take advantage of. You were high, albeit legally, but your judgment was impaired. Thus you must share the negligence. This is just an excuse that, with the right lawyer, you can easily unravel.
If you have been in any kind of accident, even one where legal marijuana was at play, you will need a stalwart and experienced personal injury lawyer. Insurance companies will try to browbeat you into accepting a lower settlement simply because you had used marijuana, but in many cases that should not be accepted. Contact us today to see how the knowledgeable attorneys at the Law Office of Freeman & Freeman can help you.