Could a Crash Victim’s Past Use of Marijuana Affect an Insurance Claim?

bottle of cannabis productCar insurance companies would like to avoid paying full compensation to car crash victims, which gives them an incentive to question the victim’s credibility.

If you have used marijuana or other cannabis products in the past, the insurance company may say you are partially to blame for the crash. They may be especially likely to do this if you used marijuana within 24 hours of the time of the crash.

Even though recreational use of marijuana has been legalized across the nation, drivers need to be cautious about getting behind the wheel while they are under the influence. Marijuana can impair reaction time and make drivers more likely to get into an accident.

Below, our Windsor-based car accident lawyers discuss how a crash victim’s marijuana use might impact his or her claim for compensation. If you were injured in a crash and are concerned about this issue, give us a call as soon as possible. We may be able to help you through every stage of the legal process, all at no upfront cost to you.

What Are the Regulations on Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana?

Despite federal law limiting the use of cannabis to those who are 18 years old or older, Ontario law restricts the use of cannabis to those who are 19 years old or older. Even if a driver is 19 years of age, he or she cannot drive under the influence of cannabis.

If a driver is found guilty of driving under the influence of cannabis, he or she could face jail time and suspension of his or her driver’s licence, in addition to fines and vehicle impoundment.

If the driver is in possession of cannabis at the time of the crash, there could be additional penalties for possessing too much at one time. Under federal law, it is illegal to possess more than 30 grams of legal cannabis in public. It is also illegal to buy cannabis or cannabis oil from a retailer who is not licenced to sell these products in the province.

It is illegal to have more than 15 grams of edible products, 70 grams of liquid cannabis, one plant seed or 0.25 grams of solid or liquid concentrates.

Medical cannabis can only be purchased from a federally licenced retailer if you have a written order.

How Can the Police Determine if a Driver is Impaired?

If the police suspect the driver is under the influence of drugs, the police can demand a driver undergo a Standardized Field Sobriety Test.

The police may also request a saliva sample, if the driver exhibits certain signs, including:

  • Moving in and out of a lane of traffic
  • Following another vehicle too closely
  • Red eyes
  • Slurred or unusual speech
  • Muscle tremors

However, the police must request the saliva test within three hours of the person having driven a car.

When a driver fails a sobriety or saliva test, the police can take him or her into custody. The police can conduct further testing at the police station, such as a drug recognition evaluation, which is conducted by a drug recognition expert.

If the police suspect a driver is under the influence of marijuana, they may also look for any marijuana or cannabis products in the vehicle or in the driver’s pockets.

How Marijuana Use Could Impair Your Ability to Drive

Like alcohol, marijuana can slow your reaction time, impair your judgment, impair your motor skills and reduce inhibitions. Taking your eyes and/or your mind off the road even for a second can be incredibly dangerous. Even if you notice a hazardous situation, you might not react quickly enough to avoid a collision.

If you are under the influence of marijuana, you might struggle to stay in your lane or you may follow another vehicle too closely. Some people wrongly assume they have gotten used to doing things while under the influence. However, people are not as aware of their impairment as they think they are.

The duration of marijuana impairment is different, depending on how it is consumed. If you smoke marijuana, the effects may last anywhere from one to three hours. However, the more you smoke, the longer it is likely to affect you. If you eat a cannabis product, it is likely to affect you for several hours.

It is important to use the same level of caution after consuming marijuana as you would after consuming alcohol. In some cases, you may need to be even more cautious, such as if you consumed an edible cannabis product. If you feel impaired, even slightly, you are. Even slight impairment can make it difficult to operate a motor vehicle safely.

Arguments the Insurance Company May Make About Marijuana Use

An insurance company may attack your credibility by citing your marijuana use. Even if you have been using marijuana for a legitimate medical reason and you have the documentation to prove it, the insurance company may say you were impaired at the time of the crash. They may say you used the drug so frequently that you no longer realize when you are impaired.

The insurance company may have a point, which is why legal marijuana users need to be careful about getting behind the wheel. If the police test you and find you were impaired at the time of the crash, it hurts your credibility with the liable insurance company. The insurance company may claim you are partially or even fully at fault.

If you are a cannabis user, you should inform your lawyer after the accident, even if you strongly believe you were not impaired at the time of the crash. Your lawyer will know how to address this issue during your claim and more importantly, how to protect your claim.

If you have a citation for marijuana use, your lawyer needs to know. Even though you may have received the citation months or years ago, the insurance company will try to use it against you.

Give Us a Call After a Car Crash in Windsor

We are deeply committed to securing full compensation for crash victims in Windsor, and there are no upfront costs for our clients to pay. We have been helping the injured for more than three decades and have obtained hundreds of millions in compensation.

Schedule your free initial legal consultation today to learn more about how we may be able to help you. We have extensive knowledge of relevant laws and legal procedures, and we have the resources to manage all aspects of your case.

Call Greg Monforton and Partners today: (866) 320-4770.