Can a Driver Be Impaired by OTC Drugs?

by Staff | May 3rd, 2021

If you were injured in a car crash, you might want to file a personal injury lawsuit. However, to receive compensation, you must show that the other driver’s negligence was at least a partial cause of the accident.

While there are many ways for a driver to be negligent, a commonly overlooked reason is driving after taking certain over-the-counter (OTC) drugs.

Can a Driver Be Impaired by OTC Drugs?

While not all OTC drugs affect driving, there are several that can significantly impair the ability to drive. However, many people don’t look at the side of the bottle or read about the side effects. Instead, they may try to drive with disastrous consequences.

If another driver hits your car while taking any of these OTC drugs, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit to get the compensation you need to pay your medical bills and cover lost wages.

The FDA warns that these drugs can affect your driving abilities:

  • OTC drugs with codeine
  • Certain allergy medications, like Benadryl
  • Medicines that treat motion sickness
  • OTC sleeping medications
  • Some diet pills
  • Medication containing stimulants, including pseudoephedrine, caffeine, and ephedrine
  • Medicine for diarrhea
  • Any medication for relaxing muscles
  • Some cold medicines, particularly “nighttime” versions
  • Some cough medicines

Additionally, CBD consumption or smoking or eating marijuana before driving can also lead to accidents.

How OTC Drugs Can Impair a Driver

Many of the OTC drugs listed by the FDA cause tiredness, which could become deadly behind the wheel of a car. In 2017, 91,000 crashes occurred because of driver tiredness, with over 700 of them causing at least one fatality.

While it’s clear that OTC drugs marketed toward people living with insomnia cause tiredness, there are several others with sleepiness as a side-effect, including some cough medicines, motion sickness drugs, anything containing codeine, and some allergy medications.

Other side-effects caused by these medications that could impair your ability to drive include:

  • Impaired judgment
  • Altered perception
  • Decreased reaction time
  • Impaired coordination

If a driver suffers any of these side-effects while on the road, they could cause a serious accident. Driving requires strict focus and attention, and a driver closing their eyes for a few seconds or fumbling with the brake can mean the difference between avoiding an accident and causing a multi-car pile-up.

Can You Sue a Driver Who Took OTC Drugs?

Car accidents can cause significant injuries, from traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) to broken bones to paralysis. In California, if you were in a car accident and received serious injuries, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit with the help of an experienced lawyer.

The earlier you consult with a lawyer, the sooner you can receive your compensation. You should also consult with a lawyer before speaking with the insurance company since they may offer a low settlement or try to get you to admit fault.

Whether you were a passenger in the car or were in another vehicle, you can sue the driver. However, you must also prove that the driver was negligent. To prove negligence in California, you’ll need to prove that:

  • The driver breached their duty to drive safely
  • The driver’s breach caused your accident and injuries
  • The driver could have foreseen the consequences of their actions
  • You suffered demonstrable damages, either physical or financial

How a Lawyer Can Help

It’s essential that you work with a lawyer since proving negligence is challenging. Additionally, your lawyer might look for evidence that the driver had the OTC drug in their system. If you were a passenger in the car, you may have seen the driver take the drug earlier in the day. For passengers in other vehicles, your lawyer might speak with the driver’s family and friends to learn if they habitually take certain OTC drugs.

Ultimately, the driver’s actions behind the wheel can be enough to establish fault, even if proving that they took an OTC medication isn’t possible. Your lawyer will be able to determine the right path to get you the compensation you deserve.

Start Your Journey Toward Compensation

If you received serious physical injuries from a recent car crash, contact the California car accident lawyers at Berg Injury Lawyers today. At your free consultation, we can review your case to determine your legal options. Our experienced team can look for evidence to show the other driver was impaired by OTC drugs or any other proof of negligence. Call us today to learn more.