Taking Medications and Motorcycle AccidentsMedications and Liability in Motorcycle Accidents

Virginia accidents are subject to the state’s “contributory negligence” law, which means more than one party involved in an accident can share a portion of the blame. If you are involved in a car, truck, or motorcycle accident in Virginia, part of the accident case will be to determine what percentage, if any, of blame you may share that contributed to the accident under this statute.

What Driving While Impaired Means

Most people are aware of the dangers of drinking and driving. Still, prescription medications can cause a variety of side effects that contribute to a driver being considered to be “under the influence” of drugs. When the pill bottle says to exercise caution or refrain from driving while taking that medication, that’s a good sign those medications could interfere with your ability to be completely alert on the road.

Opiates and other painkillers are some of the most commonly prescribed medications that can cause you to drive while impaired. But over-the-counter medications such as cough and cold medicines can also have side effects such as blurred vision, nausea, and fatigue that can impair your judgment and make it dangerous for you to operate a vehicle. That doesn’t mean there are no medications you can take before driving, but reading labels and understanding the risks is essential.

If you get into an accident while taking one or more prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications, are you at fault for an accident? Do you have to pay damages incurred to others during an accident?

Contributory Negligence and Shared Fault

Most other states have a “comparative” negligence law, meaning you can share some percentage of the blame for an accident, but as long as it’s less than 50%, you can still claim damages from a crash. In Virginia, the contributory negligence law means you must be found to be entirely blameless to be able to file a lawsuit to get reimbursement for expenses related to the accident—zero percent.

Expenses related to a crash can be very high, especially if you incur severe injuries as a result. If you are not at fault, you may be able to file a lawsuit to get reimbursed for costs incurred not just for repairs to your vehicle but payment for time missed from work due to the accident, for subsequent medical treatment or appointments, reimbursement for doctor or specialist visits, equipment you may have to purchase due to injuries sustained in the crash, and more. 

One of the ways the insurance company will determine fault is if you were taking prescription drugs at the time of the accident and whether or not those medications include side effects that could have caused you to be driving while impaired. This can affect your “negligence” or fault in an accident. 

In a Virginia crash, you will need to be able to prove that you were 100% not at fault for the accident to seek reimbursement for accident-related expenses. This includes being able to prove that you were not driving while impaired by any medications. You will be required to prove that the other party is 100% at fault based on what reasonable steps a person could have taken to avoid the accident from happening and argue that they did not take those steps. 

How a Virginia Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help

An experienced Virginia accident lawyer knows the ins and outs of the contributory negligence law and how to handle inquiries about your health from an insurance company—including what medications you may have been taking at the time of the accident. They are experienced in all the tactics insurance companies use to reduce expenses they have to pay from the accident. Working with an experienced lawyer in these accidents is very important. If you didn’t talk to an attorney right after your accident, you have up to two years to file a lawsuit after an accident happens, so be sure to contact a lawyer who has a good understanding of the contributory negligence law in Virginia.

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