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States with legalized marijuana see a rise in car accidents

California and various other states recently legalized recreational marijuana, and many states will likely soon follow suit. However, according to a couple of recent studies by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Highway Loss Data Institute, states that have legalized marijuana have seen an increase in car accidents.

Researchers analyzed collision loss data from January 2012 to October 2017 for four states that have legalized marijuana, including Washington and Colorado, and for four control states, including Idaho and Utah. Researchers made sure to control for driver population, seasonality, weather, and other conditions.

The study showed a six percent increase in the frequency of car accident claims per insured vehicle year for the states that legalized marijuana, compared to nearby states that have not legalized marijuana.

Driving while impaired is illegal nationwide, but it can be more difficult to determine whether someone is impaired by marijuana than it is to determine someone's blood alcohol level. While there is a way to test for THC, the main psychoactive part of cannabis, you may test positive for days or weeks after using marijuana. This means that testing positive for THC at the scene of an accident does not necessarily mean you were impaired when the crash occurred. Researchers also found that many drivers tested have both alcohol and marijuana in their systems, making it difficult to determine the impact of marijuana alone.

Impaired drivers that cause an accident can be held liable in both civil and criminal court. If you were injured in an accident caused by an impaired driver, you can file a legal claim against them in civil court to recover damages. While no amount of money can erase the physical and emotional pain you are experiencing, the damages you receive can help support you and your family during your recovery.

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