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Was the Driver Who Caused Your Vancouver Brain Injury High on Opioids?

Jeffrey S. Witten, B.A., LL.B.
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Personal Injury Lawyer at McComb Witten Marcoux

Posted on Jan 20, 2013

You recently suffered a concussion in a Vancouver car accident -- or, in the language that we like to use here at McComb Witten, you suffered a “brain injury.”


That brain injury may have come packaged with broken bones and other serious damage.


Even if you “merely” suffered a brain injury and minor musculoskeletal damage, you want to understand what caused your accident and get fair compensation.


A new study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine suggests that drivers who operate their vehicles on opioids, like morphine, oxycodone, and fentanyl, are at huge extra risk of getting into injury crashes.


  • If you take just 20 milligrams of opioid a day, per the study, your risk of causing road trauma spikes by over 20%.
  • If you take 100-200 milligrams, your reaction time goes way south, and your risk of getting into an injury accident spikes by 42%.
  • Curiously, the group that took over 200 milligrams of opioids a day got into fewer car accidents—the risk only spiked by 23%. Researchers believe that those in the high dose group might have been too hurt to drive. Also, some members of the “high use” group likely sold some of their opioids on the black market. So they weren't really taking the drugs, and thus their driving was not impaired.


The study examined 500,000 patients from Ontario from April 2003 through March 2011. It also looked at 5,300 patients, who were admitted in hospital ERs following auto crashes.


So why is this information important to you? What’s the takeaway?


Well, let's say the person who hit you was on opioids. Police might have tested him for alcohol, but not for such drugs. Odds are, he won't come forward and confess, either! That can put you in a real bind. You need to build the most accurate, energetic case against negligent driver. But how are you supposed to do that, if you can’t determine whether the person was on opioid medications?


The answer is not so simple, and there might not even be an answer.


But you owe it to yourself and to your family to get sound legal advice as soon as you can. Get in touch with the McComb Witten team for a consultation about your Vancouver accident case.

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