Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Handling Personal Injury Claims in the Seattle Area and Throughout Washington Since 1995

My name is Chris Thayer and I am a personal injury attorney practicing in downtown Seattle. I handle personal injury, medical malpractice and wrongful death claims throughout the greater Seattle area, including Issaquah, Mercer Island and Kirkland.

I am here to help you.

Call for a free consultation (206) 340-2008

The Five Kinds of Driving Impairment

Posted Friday, January 6, 2023 by Chris Thayer

Frequently, the chain of events that leads to a car crash begins before drivers slide behind the wheels of their vehicles. Driver impairment causes about half of the fatal and serious injury car crashes in Washington.

Arguably, these motorists intentionally disregard known risks when they choose to drive while impaired. Therefore, a Renton personal injury attorney can often obtain additional compensation in these matters. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Financial compensation doesn’t alter the past. But it does make the future a little brighter for car accident victims.

*Drugs*Marijuana is, by far, the leading cause of “stoned driving” wrecks in King County. Marijuana consumption may be legal in Washington, at least in most instances. However, it’s illegal and dangerous to drive under the influence of this or any other drug, whether that drug is legal or illegal to use.

Impairing effects of marijuana and other drugs include slow reflexes and impaired judgment. These qualities may be desirable in many situations. Operating heavy machinery, like a motor vehicle, is not one of these situations.

Speaking of illegal marijuana consumption, driving under the influence of marijuana or another substance usually violates Washington’s DUI law. Tortfeasors (negligent drivers) who break safety laws and cause wrecks could be liable for damages as a matter of law. Sometimes, marijuana users are impaired but not legally intoxicated. A Renton personal injury attorney can use circumstantial evidence to establish illegal impairment and obtain compensation.

*Alcohol*Similarly, both direct and circumstantial evidence is admissible in alcohol-related crash claims. The circumstantial evidence is much the same in both stoned and drunk driving cases. This evidence includes:

Legally, alcohol-related wrecks often have an additional dimension. Washington’s dram shop law usually applies in these situations. Restaurants, bars, and other commercial providers who knowingly sell alcohol to intoxicated individuals could be vicariously liable for damages if the crash was a foreseeable consequence of the illegal sale.

Sometimes, foreseeability is hard to prove in packaged alcohol sales. However, it’s usually foreseeable that a drunk person will open a beer and have a few sips on the way home.

*Fatigue*Scientifically, fatigue is much like alcohol or drug use. Driving after 18 consecutive awake hours is like driving with a .05 BAC level. That is above the legal limit for many Washington drivers.

Sleepy individuals cannot think well or act quickly. The combination of judgment impairment and slow reflexes often causes car crashes. Furthermore, there’s no quick fix for intoxication, impairment, or fatigue. Only time cures alcohol or drug impairment or intoxication, and only sleep cures fatigue. Quick fixes, like drinking coffee or blasting the radio, make these drivers feel more alert, at least for a few minutes. But these shortcuts do nothing to address the underlying effects of these conditions.***Medical Condition*Many people drive even though they have a serious medical condition that could cause a sudden loss of consciousness. These conditions include epilepsy, heart disease, and diabetes. These drivers obviously breach their duty of care. The risk of causing a crash is much too high.

Even more people drive with moderate illnesses, like colds or flu. Sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, and other such symptoms could reduce driving skills by as much as 50%.

*Distraction*Device distraction gets most of the attention in this area. Cell phones combine all three forms of distracted driving. These users take their minds off driving (cognitive), take their eyes off the road (visual), and take a hand off the wheel (manual).

Non-device distraction is almost as bad and much more common. For example, people routinely eat or drink while driving. This behavior is also cognitively, visually, and manually distracting, at least to a large extent.

*Speak With a Compassionate King County Attorney* Injury victims are entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Renton, contact Pivotal Law Group, PLLC. We have several offices in Washington State.