What's The Deal With Marijuana And Personal Injury Cases?

18 July 2017
 Categories: Law, Blog


Recently, a personal injury lawyer brought a suit against the state of Florida in regard to medical marijuana. One interpretation of state law declares that medical patients cannot smoke their medical marijuana, but this attorney begs to differ. He says that the law only stipulates that people can't smoke in public. By extension, patients should be able to smoke in private.

While that issue is still being decided, it brings to light an important question. What is the deal with medical marijuana and personal injury cases? Well, it depends on the state where you live, the details of the personal injury in question, and multiple other factors. Whether you've been injured or have been accused of injuring another party, here's what you need to know.

1. A High Person Is a Liable Person

Whether they smoke it, eat it, or rub a medicated salve on their body, medical marijuana patients and recreational users are liable for things they do while under the influence of that drug. To give you an example, imagine that a person takes medical marijuana, gets behind the wheel of a car, and hits another driver. The marijuana user in this case was negligent because he or she drove under the influence of a drug that may have hampered his or her ability to control the car responsibly.

However, if you bring a suit against such a person, you need to be aware that there are a variety of defenses their attorney may use. For example, when a Republican governor from South Dakota killed another motorist in a vehicular accident, his attorney argued that the accident was caused by his diabetes, which made him black out and hit the other vehicle. Although this case did not involve any marijuana, it underscores how a defense attorney may use an underlying medical condition to fight a liability charge.

2. Being High May Constitute Contributory Negligence

When it comes to personal injury cases, you generally have to prove that the other party was negligent. In most cases, that means that they must have done something that caused your injury or willfully ignored a situation that lead to your injury. At the same time, however, there is contributory negligence. Under that rule, you (the injured party) can be held partially responsible for the injury.

To take a classic example, imagine you stepped in front of a moving car. The car's driver may be cited for negligence, but as you contributed to the injury by stepping in front of the car, your financial claim will be reduced accordingly.

Let's say you were walking in a place of business, and you slipped in a puddle. The owner knew the puddle was there, and they did nothing to rectify the situation. That sets the scene for their liability. However, you were high on recreational or medical marijuana, and because of that, you were not paying attention. In this type of case, the defense attorney may argue that if you hadn't been high, you could have avoided the injury. In that case, your marijuana use may constitute contributory negligence.

3. Federal and State Laws Differ

Dealing with any type of personal injury case can be confusing, and there are a lot of factors to consider. However, when marijuana is at play in the case, it gets even more confusing. That is due to the difference between state and federal marijuana laws.

Recreational marijuana is legal in several states, but it is illegal under federal law. Medical marijuana is legal in more than half of all states, and there is a federal law respecting state's rights to legalize the plant for medical purposes. However, the new attorney general is trying to get rid of that law. Because of all that confusion, it's important to hire an expert.

If you have been injured by someone who was high on recreational, medical, or illegal marijuana, that could be an important factor in your case. Contact a personal injury lawyer who can help you get the representation you need. If you were high and are fighting a charge, you need an attorney who is experienced in defending personal injury charges.