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Study: opioid use doubles chances of fatal auto accident

With 214 million opioid prescriptions being issued every year, there is little doubt that the nation is seeing an opioid epidemic. Tennessee residents should know that opioids are dangerous substances for drivers and operators of heavy machinery because they can make one sedated and even dizzy.

However, many people drive while impaired by opioids. Roughly 7% of all fatal car accidents in the U.S. involve a driver on the medication. In the 1990s, opioid use led to only 1% of accidents. To show how opioid use raises the risk for fatal crashes, researchers at Columbia University undertook a new study.

Researchers analyzed 18,321 driver pairs who died in two-vehicle crashes between 1993 and 2016. Focusing on those drivers who were at fault and found to have opioids in their system, researchers concluded that the risk for a fatal crash doubles with opioid use.

The majority of deceased drivers who were at fault and tested positive for opioids (54.7 percent) crashed because they could not stay in their lanes. Opioids and/or alcohol were found more in the drivers who committed at least one error leading to the crash than in the drivers who did not.

When opioid use or some other form of negligence is clearly the cause of an accident, the crash victim may be able to file a claim and achieve an out-of-court settlement that covers their economic and non-economic losses. However, it may take a lawyer and their network of professionals to make a strong case. For example, toxicology experts and crash investigators might come in to obtain the necessary proof. The lawyer may then handle all negotiations, taking the matter to court as a last resort.

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