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Winnebago personal injury lawyersIllinois law allows individuals who are hurt by another party’s negligent or illegal conduct to file a personal injury claim and seek monetary damages. The injured person may be able to collect compensation for the financial and non-financial harm caused by his or her injuries including medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. Hiring a personal injury lawyer is not a requirement for seeking compensation through a personal injury claim. However, successfully recovering damages through an injury claim is a very complicated and legally demanding process. An experienced personal injury attorney is an invaluable resource.  

Investigating Your Accident and Gathering Evidence

There are four basic elements in an injury claim. Proving each of these elements using persuasive arguments and evidence is key to getting the compensation you deserve. The elements include:

  • Duty
  • Breach of duty
  • Injuries
  • Damages

A skilled personal injury attorney who has secured favorable settlements and awards for previous clients will know what is needed to successfully demonstrate each of these elements. Personal injury lawyers are adept at finding evidence and using this evidence to strengthen the case against the defendant. An experienced personal injury attorney will also have access to various experts including accident reconstruction specialists and vocational rehabilitation professionals who can provide compelling testimony to further improve your case. The more evidence you have to support your claim, the more likely you are to successfully recover compensation.  

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Rockford dangerous airbag injury attorneysAirbags represent an extremely important advancement in the field of automotive safety. During an accident, the airbag deploys in less than a second to cushion the passengers and prevent them from hitting their head on the steering wheel, dashboard, or windshield. While these devices are estimated to prevent vehicle occupant death by approximately 30 percent, airbags can also cause serious injuries during a crash. If you or a loved one suffered an airbag-related injury in a car accident, you may be entitled to monetary damages.

Injuries Caused by Airbag Deployment

Airbags often prevent much more serious and even life-threatening injuries from occurring during a crash, however, these devices do not prevent injuries entirely. An airbag works by using an ignitor to fill the bag with gas such as argon or nitrogen during a crash. The chemicals contained in an airbag can cause lung problems or burns. The bag may also cause injuries including to the eyes, face, torso, and arms including abrasions, lacerations, and fractures. If you suffered injuries in a car accident because of a functioning airbag, the party responsible for the accident is likely liable for your injuries. The liable party may be another driver, the employer of the driver, a commercial business like a trucking company, or even a government entity.

Injuries Caused by Defective Airbags

Airbags do not always work as intended. The most infamous example of airbag malfunctions is a defect that caused some Takata airbags to explode or underinflate during a collision. Over 400 injuries and 26 deaths have been linked to Takata airbags installed in dozens of different makes and models of passenger vehicles. Airbag defects that can cause injuries include:

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Rockford personal injury lawyersThere is no question that construction workers have an extremely dangerous job. One out of every five worker fatalities in the United States occurs in the construction industry. Non-fatal injuries including traumatic injuries and receptive motion injuries are also common. These injuries can lead to steep costs – both financial and personal.  If you were injured or a loved one was killed during construction work, you may be able to seek compensation for your losses through a personal injury claim.

Workers Compensation Versus a Personal Injury Lawsuit

Businesses with one or more employees must carry workers’ compensation insurance by law. If you or your loved one’s construction accident occurred at work, you are likely entitled to compensation through workers’ compensation. However, the compensation you get through workers’ compensation may not even come close to fully compensating you for your losses. Furthermore, workers’ compensation only covers economic damages like medical bills and part of your lost income.

A personal injury lawsuit may allow you to recover your full lost wages, the damage to your earning capacity, and non-economic damages. You may be entitled to compensation for the physical pain caused by your injuries as well as the emotional and mental suffering you experienced. If your loved one died in a construction accident, you may be compensated for:

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Rockford personal injury attorneysMost people would agree that traffic can be a major source of frustration and anger. However, part of being a good driver is not letting negative emotions lead to unsafe driving. “Road rage” can lead to severe or even deadly car accidents. If you or a loved one were injured in a car accident caused by road rage, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your damages.

Some Sources Say Road Rage is on the Rise

“Road rage” or intense anger behind the wheel can be caused by countless situations. Being tailgated, driving behind someone traveling well below the speed limit, running late, and many other factors can increase a person’s frustration and cause them to experience road rage. Some instances of road rage turn into physical altercations. Other times, an angry driver may intentionally drive in a dangerous manner or even try to run another driver off the road. One study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that aggressive driving increased by a factor of 500 percent within a single decade. Other studies have showed that a significant percentage of drivers admit to dangerous behaviors such as intentionally tailgating other vehicles.

Seeking Damages Though a Personal Injury Claim

If another driver’s unsafe driving has led to an accident in which you or a loved one were harmed, you may be curious about your legal options. One option is to pursue financial compensation through a personal injury claim. Bringing a claim against the at-fault driver may enable you to recover compensation for your damages or costs. 

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Winnebago County personal injury attorneysPersonal injury claims enable individuals hurt by the negligent or unlawful actions of another party to recover damages, or compensation, for the losses they have sustained because of their injuries. These claims are often associated with medical malpractice, car accidents, premises liability including slip and fall accidents, and defective products. If you have decided to file a personal injury claim and pursue compensation for your medical expenses, pain and suffering, or other losses, you may have questions about how the amount of compensation you may receive will be calculated.  

Calculating the Monetary Value of Economic Damages

Medical costs are often a top motivator for personal injury claims. The amount of reimbursement you will receive for medical expenses will depend on:

  • The severity of your injuries
  • The cost of the medical treatment you have already received
  • The estimated cost of the medical treatment you will need in the future
  • The amount of time you will likely need to recover from your injuries
  • Whether there are any permanent or ongoing consequences of your injuries

You may also receive compensation for your lost wages caused by missed work. Loss of income is calculated by adding together the money you would have earned or would have likely earned if you were able to work. Lost income typically includes wages and any commissions, bonuses, or tips you would have likely received as well as compensation for the loss of your work benefits. 

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Winnebago County dram shop liability attorneysWhen a person considers the health risks of excessive alcohol consumption, he or she may think about problems like liver disease or high blood pressure. However, diseases like these are only some of the many ways in which alcohol use can cause injury or death. Alcohol-related injuries, including those caused by falls, car accidents, drowning, or violence, are extremely common. It is estimated that 3.2 percent of worldwide deaths are caused by alcohol.

When a person is injured in an alcohol-related accident, he or she may choose to bring a personal injury claim against the person whose intoxication caused the accident. In some cases, it is also possible to bring a personal injury claim against the establishment that served the intoxicated person alcohol. Injury claims brought against alcohol vendors fall under the umbrella of dram shop liability.

Illinois Dram Shop Laws

In certain situations, Illinois law permits an injured person or the representative of a deceased person to bring a personal injury claim against an alcohol vendor such as a restaurant or bar. In order to bring a successful personal injury claim under the state’s dram shop liability laws, you and you attorney will need to prove that:

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Winnebago County Concussion LawyerA concussion is one type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) which is usually caused by a sudden impact or shake to the head. The word “concussion” comes from the Latin word “concussio” which means "to shake violently.” When a person sustains a concussion, the impact can jar the brain, sometimes causing it to literally move around inside the skull. Traumatic brain injuries such a concussion can cause brain bruising, blood vessel damage, and injury to nerves.

Concussions are commonly caused by playing sports, car accidents, bicycle and pedestrian accidents, work-related injuries, and falling. Although a concussion is usually considered a relatively minor brain injury, any brain injury can cause cognitive impairment and result in financial losses. If you or a loved one suffered a concussion after an accident, you may be able to recover compensation for your injuries through a personal injury claim.

Symptoms of a Concussion May Not Be Immediately Obvious

One of the biggest misunderstandings about concussions is the assumption that they are immediately obvious. The majority of people who are concussed do not lose consciousness. The injured person might not even recognize that he or she has sustained a concussion. During traumatic events like traffic accidents, adrenaline can minimize the amount of pain a person experiences—or even mask pain and discomfort altogether. Many people who have been involved in serious accidents did not even realize they were severely injured until someone notifies them of their injuries.

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Rockford burn injury attorneysIn workplaces nationwide, workers are required to use various chemicals and other materials in order to perform their jobs properly. While many chemicals are fairly safe, others often present severe dangers, including the ability to cause serious burns. If you have suffered a chemical burn while on the job or while visiting an industrial or construction site, seek treatment immediately and learn about your rights to possible compensation.

Breaking Down a Chemical Burn

Chemicals that can seriously burn a person are usually strong acids or bases. Some such chemicals are found in most homes and may include ammonia, chlorine bleach, and drain cleaning liquids and gels. In manufacturing and industrial settings, however, there are many more chemicals that are often used for a wide range of applications. These chemicals are usually even more concentrated—and therefore more dangerous—than their household counterparts.

When a caustic or corrosive chemical makes contact with your skin, the substance could start to eat away at your flesh. The severity of the burn depends on several factors, including the type of chemical, its concentration, and how long it stays in contact with your skin. The least serious type of chemical burn is called a “superficial injury” as it only damages the top layer of skin. A “dermal injury” or “partial thickness” burn refers to damage to the second layer, called the dermis. The most serious type of chemical burn is a “full-thickness injury” and damages the top and second layers of skin, as well as the tissue underneath, including muscle and fat.

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Winnebago County personal injury attorneysThanks to its inclusion in TV procedural dramas, movies, and other dramatic depictions, there is a good chance that you are familiar with the phrase “beyond a reasonable doubt” as it pertains to legal matters. While the concept predates American law, it has become a cornerstone principle in criminal courtrooms around the country, providing a basis for protecting the rights of the accused. Thanks to the ubiquitous nature of entertainment, it is easy to assume that the same standard applies in any type of court proceeding. Reasonable doubt, however, plays no specific role in civil court or personal injury claims, as the standard used in such cases is much different and much easier to attain. In civil court, a claimant must only show that his or her version of the event in question is more likely than not based on the “preponderance of the evidence.”

Burden of Proof on the Claimant

As you might expect, the party that files a car accident, slip and fall, or another personal injury claim has the burden of proof. This means that, in order to collect compensation as requested in the claim, he or she must present a case that shows several distinct elements.

Specifically, the claimant must demonstrate and support with evidence that:

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Rockford distracted driving accident lawyerBy now, you have almost certainly heard the warnings about the dangers of texting while driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, AT&T, AAA, nonprofits, and other organizations have spent millions of dollars on campaigns to stop texting and driving. However, there are many other ways that drivers become dangerously distracted on the road, often leading to devastating accidents.

Children Can Be More Distracting Than Texting

If you have children, you probably spend a great deal of time transporting them to and from school, friends’ houses, and after-school activities. According to several studies, when your children are in the car, you may be driving while distracted. One study showed that children were twelve times more distracting to a driver than texting was. Research has also shown that parents with children in the car spend, on average, three minutes and twenty-two seconds with their eyes away from the road for every sixteen minutes they are diving.

Surprising Dangers on the Road

Distracted driving can also be caused when a driver attempts to multitask while driving. Many of us have extremely busy lives and often eat or drink while driving to save time. While the coffee and donut on the way to work may help you get your day started, experts believe that even this puts drivers at an increased risk of being in a car accident. A study conducted by Erie insurance found that smoking while driving is equally dangerous. Individuals who reach for a cigarette or go to light one take their eyes off the road for just a moment, but it only takes a moment to be involved in a crash.

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Rockford personal injury attorneysIf you have been injured in a car crash or any other accident caused by another party’s actions or negligence, you might be able to pursue compensation for the injuries you have sustained. Compensation is generally available to cover medical expenses, time away from work, and damage to property, as well as more subjective losses such as pain, suffering, and permanent scarring. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to collect compensation after an accident, especially if a lawsuit is necessary.

Filing Your Claim

In most situations, the first step toward recovering compensation after an accident is filing a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company. Depending on the situation, you might do so by going through your own insurance company first or you could file directly with the other party’s carrier. Your claim will almost certainly include the police report and any other evidence that might help prove that the other party was to blame for your injuries.

At this stage, the insurance company might offer a settlement that seems like it will cover all of your losses. Keep in mind that initial offers often do not take long-term considerations into account. For example, the first offer might come before you have even received a prognosis for making a full physical recovery from your doctor. If you accept a settlement offer, you will waive your right to taking legal action in the future, so you should discuss the matter with a qualified personal injury lawyer before making a decision.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_comparative-fault-balance-negligence.jpgImagine this scenario: You are cruising down the highway at about 10 miles over the speed limit when you are hit by a drunk driver. You suffer significant injuries to your back and neck that leave you unable to work and drowning in medical bills. The drunk driver’s insurance company offers you a settlement which does not even come close to compensating you for your damages. Is there a way that you can sue to recover compensation? The answer in Illinois is “yes.”

Illinois’ comparative fault law allows those injured by another’s negligence to sue even if they were partially responsible for the injury or accident. In this example, the original driver may have contributed to the accident by speeding, but if the other driver was more to blame, a personal injury suit is still possible.

Defining Negligence Under Illinois Law

The word “negligence” is used to describe a situation when a person or entity owes a duty of care, or responsibility, to another person and fails to uphold that duty. For example, doctors have a duty to their patients to maintain the prevailing standard of care within their area of practice. A doctor who significantly deviates from this standard of care and causes injury to his or her patient may be considered negligent. Similarly, drivers using public roadways have a duty to the other motorists on the road to drive with care and attention. Driving drunk is certainly not upholding this duty. Therefore, many drunk drivers are held liable when an accident they cause results in injuries.

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Winnebago County personal injury attorneysBeing involved in a car crash can be terrifying. After the accident, an injured person may be left unable to work or enjoy their life and burdened with costly medical bills. If you have been injured by a person who was driving under the influence, you may have an opportunity to recover compensation for your damages through a personal injury suit.

While insurance companies may offer some compensation for a car accident that was not your fault, insurance settlements are often too small to cover all of the damages the injured person endured. Suing the other driver or their insurance company is one way to help cover the costs of missed work, ongoing medical care, and other damages. There are certain steps anyone should take after being injured in an accident. If you plan to pursue compensation, it is even more important that you follow these procedures.

Always Go to the Hospital After an Injury-Causing Accident

Often, a person injured in a car accident does not immediately realize the extent of his or her injuries. Adrenaline and fear can mask the pain and cause an injured driver to underestimate the seriousness of the situation. Unfortunately, without formal medical records describing the injuries caused by the accident, it can be difficult to bring a successful personal injury suit.

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Rockford personal injury attorneyPerhaps more so than any other legal action, personal injury lawsuits are shrouded in misunderstanding. People hear television commercials about getting compensation for an injury and incorrectly assume that personal injury lawsuits are designed to “cheat” the system and make an easy buck. The purpose of personal injury lawsuits is to compensate a person for injuries sustained due to another party’s negligence.

If you are ever hurt by a drunk driver, defective product, unsafe environment, dog bite, incompetent medical professional, or another act of negligence, you may be out thousands of dollars. Medical bills and ongoing physical therapy can easily bankrupt a person, and insurance companies are notorious for only covering a minimum of costs. Missed work can result in even more financial hardship. Injury suits provide an avenue for injured people to recover some of these costs as well as be compensated for pain and suffering. Read on to learn about how personal injury cases are often misunderstood and how you can pursue compensation for your injuries.

Falsehoods Regarding McDonald’s Hot Coffee Case Damaged Public Perception of Personal Injury Suits

Back in 1992, a 79-year-old woman bought coffee at the McDonald’s drive-thru and spilled it on her lap. She sued McDonald’s and was awarded millions. If this story sounds familiar, it is because the McDonald’s hot coffee lawsuit unfairly became the poster child of frivolous lawsuits in the 1990s. However, the real story of this lawsuit was nearly completely unknown to the public thanks to biases and irresponsible journalism. The liquid which the elderly woman spilled was not simply “hot coffee,” It was coffee heated to the outrageously high temperature of 190 degrees – a temperature hot enough to cause third-degree burns in three to seven seconds. When the woman spilled her coffee, it soaked into her pants and continued burning her. She suffered third degree burns on her legs and genitals which were so horrific, she went into shock. The woman’s burns were so severe, she required multiple skin grafts and extensive medical care. 

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Rockford medical malpractice lawyersWhen a person goes to the hospital to get surgery for an illness or injury, they assume the doctors, nurses, and surgeons taking care of them will do their job with caution and attentiveness. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. A recent study from Johns Hopkins shows that over 250,000 individuals die every year in the U.S from medical errors. Other studies suggest that the number of individuals killed by medical mistakes is closer to 440,000. One medical error which occurs startlingly often is the unintended retention of foreign objects (URFOs) during surgical procedures.

Surgical Items Left Inside Patients Bodies

Alarmingly, it is not unheard of for patients to discover that a surgeon or other medical professional left a piece of medical equipment inside their body. Leaving surgical instruments in a person’s body after invasive procedures can cause serious illness and even death. The type of object left in the person’s body and the length of time it was retained are the main factors that determine the severity of this error.

In some cases, retained objects are discovered immediately after a surgical procedure through an X-ray or during a follow-up. Other times, the foreign objects left in a patient’s body are only identified after the patient seeks medical attention for unexplained pain. The most common objects which are left inside patients include:

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Rockford personal injury attorneysGetting hurt in a car crash or other accident can be an overwhelmingly emotional experience. In the moments after an accident, most people are in shock. They immediately start thinking about how to handle the situation and give little attention to their own well-being. Unfortunately, many people have decreased their chances at receiving compensation for their injuries because they delayed or skipped medical treatment after an accident. If you are ever involved in an accident and you are hurt, it is critical that you have a medical professional assess your injuries.

Adrenaline Masks Pain During Traumatic Events

Imagine you are driving down the highway with your family. Suddenly, another car veers into your lane, causing your vehicle to crash into the guardrail. After the impact, you will probably be more concerned with the other passengers in your vehicle than yourself—even if you are seriously hurt. This is partially due to a mechanism in the brain which helps block the feeling of pain in dangerous situations. In traumatic circumstances, an injured person’s bloodstream is flooded with a hormone called adrenaline. In addition to dilating the person’s pupils and increasing their heart rate, the hormone also blocks their brain’s ability to sense pain. This “stress-induced analgesia,” can trick injured people into believing they are less hurt than they really are. The injured person may cause further bodily damage by delaying medical treatment.

Delaying Medical Treatment Can Decrease Your Chances of Getting Compensation

Being involved in a serious accident can leave a person with burdensome medical bills and financial hardship due to missed work. Symptoms that do not become apparent until days or weeks after an accident can be more difficult to relate directly to the accident. As a result, insurance companies may try to evade liability. Getting compensation for injuries by means of a personal injury lawsuit may be a viable solution for some, but those without documentation of their injuries will have a much harder time making a successful claim.  

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Rockford personal injury attorneyFrom the beginning of automobile manufacturing, auto manufacturers have worried about safety. Motor vehicles are constantly being redesigned with increasingly effective safety features. Components like seatbelts, safety glass, and padded dashboards were among the first efforts at increased automobile safety. Airbags designed to cushion passengers in the event of a car crash were another significant addition to automobile design. More recently, experts have been working to understand how these safety features work together to prevent passenger injury during a traffic accident. Insurance companies and automakers are continuously analyzing data in an attempt to answer the question, “Which seat is the safest to be in during a car crash?” 

The Rear Middle Seat Is Often the Farthest from Impact

Many people believe that the rear middle seat is the safest seat in an average automobile. This seat is the furthest away from the sides of the car. In the event of a crash, the passenger in the middle seat is theoretically less likely to come into contact with crushed windows and sides and suffer injury. Statistically, the rear middle seat has been found to be the safest seat during crashes that occur at intersections.

NHTSA Says Children Should Always Ride in the Back Seat

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) officially recommends that parents place children under 13 years of age in the back seat. The rear middle seat is considered the best seat for children, but only if that seat is equipped with a functioning 3-point seat belt. The NHTSA also recommends the rear middle seat as the safest location for a child in a car seat. Studies show that placing a car seat in the rear middle may reduce the risk of injury by up to 43 percent.

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Winnebago County personal injury attorneyAs the old proverb goes, two wrongs do not make a right. In fact, when applied to an auto accident or other type of personal injury, two wrongs can actually create an even bigger problem. Countless television commercials, billboards, and phone book advertisements bombard you daily about your rights to collect compensation following an accident. What they may not tell you right away, though, is that your contribution to your own injuries could impact the amount you may be able to recover.

Determining Who Was Negligent

Assume for a moment that you are in your car, sitting at an intersection, waiting for the light to turn green. You are listening to music on the radio, but are not otherwise distracted by a cell phone, or any other additional stimulus. Without warning, a drunk driver slams into the back of your vehicle, causing extensive damage and leaving you with broken bones and a neck injury. While the other details of the case, including insurance coverage and criminal charges, may not be so clear, the assignment of fault in this example would be very straightforward. The actions of the drunk driver caused the accident and he or she would likely be completely liable for your injuries.

Now consider a more complex hypothetical situation. In this case, you are driving 15 miles per hour over the speed limit while talking on a hand-held cellphone when another driver, who is also texting, runs a red light and broadsides your car. In this example, both you and the other driver were engaged in illegal—possibly negligent—behaviors that may be seen as contributing the subsequent accident and injuries. If you file a personal injury claim, it may be left to a judge or jury to determine each party’s percentage of fault before damages can be awarded.

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Winnebago County personal injury attorneyA traumatic brain injury can happen to anyone, and at any age. When it does, the end result can be catastrophic. This is especially true in cases involving serious injury and excessive brain swelling. Unfortunately, there are currently no medications to treat the swelling—only drugs that help to improve the ultimate outcome for patients who survive. Thankfully, recent studies suggest an answer may be on the horizon, but with one major caveat: it may only work in adults.

Antibiotics and TBI Swelling in Children and Adults

The potentially deadly implications of TBI do not typically come from the injury itself. Instead, it is generally caused by the post-injury swelling of the brain. Previous studies have suggested that genetics may play a role in the severity of this swelling, but no one really knows why some are more prone than others to rapid and life-threatening swelling.

Published in the journal Experimental Neurology a recent study found that antibiotics may help to mitigate the brain swelling in adults. Unfortunately, mice models also indicated that antibiotics may actually have a negative effect on the developing brains of children. This essentially means that scientists may be able to move forward with more studies in adults, but they remain largely at a loss when it comes to the treatment of TBI-related brain swelling in children—the most vulnerable members of society.

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Winnebago County car accident attorneysThere are currently nine states—plus Washington D.C.—in which recreational marijuana has been legalized. A substantial number of other states have decriminalized low-level possession of marijuana, implemented legal medical marijuana programs, or both. Illinois is one of those that has done both. The increasingly lax laws regarding marijuana use have led many to wonder what the impact will be on public safety. Two recent studies that seem to contradict each other offer a fairly reasonable insight into the effect of legalized marijuana on the rate of car accidents.

More Accidents

The first study was conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and looked at insurance claims for crashes filed between 2012 and 2016. In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first two states to legalize recreational cannabis use for adults over the age of 21. The researchers looked at those two states along with Oregon and compared their accident claims with neighboring states that did not legalize recreational use. The study estimated that crash rates were about 3 percent above what they would have been if marijuana had not been legalized. While the increase is not dramatic, it is statistically significant, according to the study.

No Effect on Fatalities

The second study was published by researchers from the University of Texas and Rice University and examined car accident fatality rates between 2009 and 2015. Their findings indicated that there was no increase in fatalities in Colorado or Washington compared to other states during the first three years of legalization.

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