Imagine being involved in a car accident that leaves you with multiple broken bones and months’ worth of physical therapy. You discover that the other party has been required by the police to submit to a variety of toxicology tests. You quickly realize that the police want to know whether the other person was under the influence, but did you know there is more to it than that?
Toxicology serves a vital role in both accident investigations and personal injury claims. From your point of view as the plaintiff, it is important to note whether the other driver was in any way impaired by drugs or alcohol. You would want to know if that person suffered from any medical episode that could have contributed to the accident.
From the defendant’s standpoint, toxicology tests could prove that no drugs, alcohol, or any underlying medical conditions were involved. As such, attorneys specializing in insurance defense are just as interested in toxicology as prosecuting attorneys.
Were drugs or alcohol involved?
The Majors Firm, a local law office in Rockwell, Texas, looks at toxicology tests from both sides of the courtroom. The firm not only handles personal injury cases filed by plaintiffs, they also provide insurance defense. They say that the first and most important function of toxicology is to determine whether drugs or alcohol were in any way involved in the case being litigated.
Should toxicology tests turn up negative, that part of the case is settled and the attorneys move on. A positive result triggers further investigation. Investigators need to know a few other things.
What role did drugs or alcohol play?
Next, toxicology experts would attempt to determine exactly what substances were in play and how they affected the circumstances surrounding the incident. Let’s say toxicology revealed that the other party in our fictional car crash had alcohol in his system. There was not enough alcohol to consider him legally drunk, but there was enough to show up on the test. Investigators want to know whether the volume of alcohol in any way contributed to the accident or not.
Were any parties impaired?
Once toxicology tests reveal that alcohol or drugs were involved, the next step is to determine if any parties were impaired at the time of the accident. If so, how impaired were they. Yes, there are varying levels of intoxication. A higher level indicates certain things in the eyes of investigators. They can tell a lot about who was involved, and the extent of each person’s involvement based on the level of impairment exhibited.
What specific issues could have arisen?
Toxicology is advanced enough that it can reveal specific issues that might have arisen as a result of drug or alcohol use. For example, we know that a certain amount of alcohol in the system will significantly impair a person’s ability to judge time and distance. That could be a determining factor in our fictional car crash.
Testing can reveal if a person’s judgment might have been impaired, whether someone involved in the accident truly understood the consequences of his or her actions, and other similar things. These kinds of things could prove critical if a case ends up in court.
Thanks to modern science, toxicology can help plug some of the holes that used to cause big problems for accident investigators. We can now tell a lot about accidents and injuries based on tests that show whether a person is under the influence of certain substances or not. Toxicology represents yet another way our legal system has been improved.