Drug Use Accidents

Knoxville Attorney Representing Car Crash Victims

Most of us know that it is illegal to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol level in excess of the legal limit, but the equally dangerous behavior of drugged driving tends to receive less publicity. Drugged driving involves using illegal narcotics or legal narcotics that are not compatible with getting behind the wheel. Even though some of us have legal prescriptions for certain medications, it may not be safe to operate a vehicle while under the influence of those medications. Knoxville car accident lawyer Mark Hartsoe is committed to asserting the rights of Tennessee residents who have become the unfortunate victims of drugged driving. If you are in this situation, you likely can bring a legal claim against the person whose drug use harmed you.

Holding a Driver Liable for Using Drugs Behind the Wheel

A personal injury case based on an auto accident usually requires the plaintiff to show that the defendant was acting negligently at the time of the crash. Negligence is a standard that specifies the minimum level of care that we must each use on a regular basis when going about our daily business. This standard encompasses any applicable traffic laws, including laws that prohibit operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs, often extending to prescription medications.

According to TCA 55-10-401, a driver is prohibited from operating a motor vehicle while “under the influence of any intoxicant, marijuana, narcotic drug, or drug producing stimulating effects on the central nervous system.” According to Tennessee law, there is no fixed level of the substance that must be located in the defendant’s system in order for a violation to be found and penalties to be imposed. Additionally, Tennessee does not allow a party accused of driving while drugged to assert a defense claiming he or she has a prescription for the substance and is legally allowed to consume it.

You must also demonstrate that the defendant’s reckless decision to get out on the road in a drugged state was the direct cause of your injuries. It is usually a good idea to contact the police and to obtain a copy of the police report following the crash. The report will typically indicate the cause of the accident and whether the at-fault driver was under the influence at the time. Also, you will want to offer evidence supporting the damages that you are seeking, which may range from lost income, property damage, and past and future medical treatment to pain and suffering or scarring and disfigurement, among other examples.

Under a groundbreaking Tennessee Supreme Court case, Hodges v. S.C. Toof & Co., a victim in a drugged driving accident may be entitled to seek punitive damages. These are designed to punish a defendant for intentional, reckless, malicious, or wanton conduct and to provide a deterrent to the general public. To recover punitive damages, the plaintiff must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the driver acted with one of the mental states above rather than merely carelessly. Punitive damages awards usually are substantial when they are granted, so enlisting a lawyer who knows how to strategically pursue them can make a significant difference in the total amount of compensation that you ultimately receive.

Protect Your Rights by Consulting Knoxville Car Accident Lawyer Mark Hartsoe

People whose lives have been changed because someone else chose to get behind the wheel after using drugs should not hesitate to take legal action. Knoxville car accident attorney Mark Hartsoe can help you investigate your potential claim, gather evidence, negotiate with insurance companies, and file a lawsuit to seek damages. As an experienced motor vehicle collision lawyer, he knows how daunting this process may seem, but he will stand by you to ensure that your interests are represented at each juncture. Call us at 865-804-1011 or contact us online to set up a free consultation.

Client Reviews
I was on my way to Atlanta and a huge truck rear-ended me and knocked me off the side of the road. I was scared. Didn’t know what to do. I tried working with the insurance company. They are just difficult to work with. I had to call somebody to take care of me. So, My brother told me to call Mark Hartsoe. As soon as I called Mark Hartsoe, he let me know real quick that everything was going to be okay and that he would take care of everything. And, he did. He got me a great settlement. He took the worry off of me. Mickey Anderson
I was hit coming home late at night by a drunk driver who took off. And the next day I was able to track down his vehicle and get the state police involved. At that point, a family friend recommended that I talk to Mark Hartsoe. Pretty much at that point, Mark handled the police, the insurance company and the guy who hit me. Settled with the actual person that hit me. Outside of that, everything came out great. Did not have to go to court. Got a great settlement. Got my car replaced. Got a check. Mark Hartsoe is my lawyer. Nate Holder
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I wanted to thank you for the excellent representation and your ability to handle the situation so well with such compassion and strength. We appreciate all of your help, concern and for answering my many questions. It has been a difficult road to travel but when we come across people like you, it really helps to lighten the load. We just wanted you to know how much we appreciate what you’ve done and your ability to handle the situation so well. S. Carter
Thank you so much for all the work you did on our case. We received more than we expected. You were great through the whole time from the first meeting until the last. Thank you so very much. Sam & Judy Kachar