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JAMA study shows rise in car crashes on April 20

Recreational marijuana use has been legalized in nine states and Washington, D.C. While the people of Kentucky may not have to worry as much about drivers operating under the influence of recreational marijuana, they need to know that marijuana-related crashes are apparently increasing in most U.S. states. This is especially true during the April 20 holiday that marijuana users have proclaimed and celebrated since the early '90s.

A new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine has analyzed government crash data between 1992 and 2016, comparing fatal crash rates on every April 20 to those in the weeks preceding it and following it. Researchers concluded that there was a 12 percent increase in fatal car crashes on April 20, or 142 more deaths than in the surrounding weeks. Since researchers had little access to police data on drug testing, they could not link any crashes directly to marijuana use.

In Colorado, where recreational marijuana was legalized in 2012, the Department of Transportation has partnered with Lyft and a pot industry group to provide discounted rides to those who take part in the holiday. However, public awareness of the dangers of impaired driving seems to be low; a 2016 survey showed that half of all marijuana users in Colorado think that it's safe to drive while under the influence of the drug.

When motor vehicle accidents arise from drug-impaired driving, victims have grounds for a personal injury claim. They may have their case evaluated by a personal injury lawyer, who might then hire accident investigators, photographers, drug experts and other third parties to provide evidence. If the accident resulted in the victim's death, the family may consult a lawyer who handles wrongful death suits. In either case, the lawyer might strive for an informal settlement first, litigating if negotiations fall through.

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