Marijuana "holiday" linked to increased car accident risk

West Virginia residents who smoke pot may want to think twice before they get behind the wheel. Smoking pot can impair one's ability to drive safely and lead to car accidents.

A recent study published in "JAMA Internal Medicine" found that car accidents increased on April 20, an informal holiday made popular by pot aficionados. Researchers studied car accident data on that date for 25 years, comparing to accidents on a day the week before and the week after April 20. They found that fatal car accidents were more frequent on April 20, increasing by 12 percent. Researchers, however, did not provide evidence that marijuana use by drivers caused these accidents. Drinking and driving accidents also increase on New Year's Eve and Super Bowl Sunday, other studies say.

Marijuana use is not always documented by police in most car accidents, which makes it difficult to link the two. Furthermore, many drunk drivers may also have marijuana in their systems, said the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Other researchers said that linking car accidents with marijuana use is becoming more important as more states are legalizing the drug for medicinal and recreational use.

A West Virginian who has been injured in a car accident may be eligible for compensation through a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver. Compensation may cover pain and suffering, medical expenses and lost wages if the person is unable to work. A personal injury attorney may be able to explain eligibility for this compensation and assist the victim in obtaining a fair settlement.

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