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Injured By Impaired Driver. Understand The Laws & Know Your Rights

injured by an impaired driver - lawyers toronto

Injured By Impaired Driver

When we hear about impaired driving accidents on the news, it’s usually the illegal consumption of alcohol that first comes to our minds. Drinking and driving is a criminal offense. Drivers who break this law face criminal charges and civil lawsuits from those who have been injured by their negligent actions.

The perils of drinking and driving has been extensively studied, discussed and published . There are however numerous other driving impairments that have not been as openly discussed to the same extent as alcohol impaired driving.

In basic terms, impaired driving can refer to any negligent act or breach of duty that limits a driver’s mental or physical ability to operate a motor vehicle safely.

The personal injury accident lawyers at the Kahler Law Firm in Toronto have represented victims injured by impaired drivers in motor vehicle accidents involving:

  • Alcohol Impairment
  • Prescription drugs & over the counter medication
  • Narcotics
  • Sleep deprivation & Disorders
  • Visual Impairments
  • Physical Impairments
  • Mental & Psychological Impairments

Alcohol Impairment

Drinking and driving is a serious offense and can seriously alter a driver’s ability to safely control a motor vehicle. Alcohol Impairment and consumption over the legal limit has been linked to numerous types of accidents including, car, boating, snowmobile, ATV and many other recreational vehicles.

Those injured by drunk drivers often sustain catastrophic and life threatening injuries or death. Families are devastated and lives are forever changed. Drunk drivers often have a history of negligent behavior and are at risk to re-offend. Many alcohol-impaired drivers leave the scene of an accident in hopes of concealing their wrongs and to avoid the consequences of their actions, leaving families, police and lawyers to re-construct the accident scene.

Medications Can Impair Your Ability as a Driver.

Impairment from prescription or over the counter medicine – such as sleeping pills or cold medications have side effects and can seriously impair a persons mental, physical and cognitive ability to operate a motor vehicle.

Drug-impaired drivers can be held liable for injuries and have a legal duty to exercise care and insure that their use of medication (on it’s own, or in combination of) does not affect their ability to safely control a motor vehicle.

Drivers should speak with their doctor or pharmacist, read and follow labeled warnings and not operate a motor vehicle after taking at risk medications.

Illegal drug abuse and driving is a deadly combination. Driving under the influence of narcotics and illegal substances can negatively affect wide variety of skills required for safe driving, including:

• Concentration
• Ability perceive distance
• Mental Judgment
• Reaction time
• Speed control
• Ability to read signs
• Alertness
• Risk of distraction.

With illegal drugs and narcotics, the list of side effects on the human body is long. When narcotics like marijuana used in combination with alcohol it creates an even greater impairment and multi-pronged dangers in areas such as judgment, reaction time and coordination. Narcotics like opiates can disable the brain and leave drivers experiencing intense hallucinations, increased heart rate, blood pressure, and many other adverse effects.

Sleep Deprivation & Sleep Disorders
Depriving the body of sleep can impair the cognitive ability, judgment and mood of a driver. With strenuous work schedules, little down time and poor sleep; long distance truck drivers and shift workers are at particularly high risk of a drowsy driving car accident.

Many of these types of workers experience insomnia, lapses of attention/memory, depression, irritability and stress. Symptoms of Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and acute insomnia can affect the body’s ability to get adequate rest; leaving drivers feeling fatigued and distracted.

All drivers have a legal obligation to insure that they are in full control of their vehicle at all times. Falling a sleep is no excuse, regardless of the reason. Drivers who are sleep deprived need to seek out rest areas and make safety on the roadways their first priority.

Visual Impairments
Visual impairment can affect drivers: ability to see objects clearly, sensitivity to light, visual strength and judgment of contrast.
Visual impairments may be temporary, like a treatment from the eye doctor; infection or not wearing prescribed glasses of the proper strength. Other visual impairments can be disease or disorder related, such as:

  • Retinal degeneration
  • Albinism
  • Cataracts
  • Glaucoma
  • Corneal disorders
  • Diabetic retin-opathy
  • Congenital disorders, and infection
  • Cortical visual impairment caused by a brain disorder

Physical Impairments
Any driver who has suffered or suffers from physical conditions or impairments such as epilepsy, fainting, stroke, mental illness, and other physical impairments is legally obligated to report or “notify” responsible driver licensing authorities.

Failure to safely manage illness or diseases can greatly affect a person’s safe driving capability. Elderly drivers are at an elevated risk for these impairments and must be tested on a regular basis.
Factors that can affect an elderly drivers competency behind the wheel may include:

  • Decreased cognitive ability’s
  • Diminished reaction time
  • Poor vision
  • Prone to confusion or disorientation
  • Dementia
  • Ability to properly read and follow traffic signs
  • Deteriorating physical conditions
  • Pacemaker
  • Heart conditions

Elderly drivers are often reluctant to give up their driving privileges. This may be a factor as to why elderly drivers have the second highest car accident fatality rate in the country.
Mental Illness & psychiatric Impairments

Statistics show that up to one in five people in Canada will experiences mental health problems in any given year. Mental illness account for nearly 30% of all long-term disability claims.
A Drivers may be unfit to operate a motor vehicle if they suffer from:

Emotional impairments

  • Mental illness such as schizophrenia and bipolar
  • Psychiatric disorders
  • Chronic Psychoses
  • History of instability

Drivers who suffer from mental illness are legally obligated to follow prescribed treatments and must be stable before getting behind the wheel. Not all mental illness and disorders require a driver’s license to be revoked.
Impaired driving is a leading cause of injury and death in Ontario

Far to often it’s innocent people such as passengers, pedestrians and other drivers that suffer the tragic consequences of someone else’s negligent actions.
The motor vehicle accident lawyers at the Kahler law firm have helped many injury victims associated with impaired driving obtain justice and compensation for injuries like:

  • Brain injury
  • Wrongful death
  • Amputation
  • Serious spinal cord injury (paraplegic, quadriplegic)
  • Serious burns and scarring

Types of accident commonly associated with impaired driving include:

  • Head on collisions
  • Side-swipes
  • Roll-overs
  • Rear-end collisions
  • High speed accidents
  • Lane/road departures
  • Others drivers forced off of the road
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Boating accidents
  • Snowmobiling accidents

The Canadian criminal law states it is a criminal offense to operate a motor vehicle while impaired, even if you have not started or begun to drive the vehicle. This includes all types of motor vehicles, including off road vehicles, snowmobiles and watercraft.

The Kahler Personal Injury Law Firm specializes in motor vehicle accident litigation and insurance law. The motor vehicle accident lawyers at the Kahler Personal Injury Law Firm have obtained multimillion dollar verdicts and settlements for those effected or injured as a result of an impaired driver.

The Kahler Personal Injury Law Firm offers free consultations and free injury case assessments. We require no up front retainer. You pay no fees until your case is settled and we have recovered your personal injury compensation.

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