Last month, an appellate court in California issued a written opinion in a truck accident case that is of interest to Maryland truck accident victims because it deals with how courts should handle evidence of a plaintiff’s marijuana use at a personal injury trial. Ultimately, the court determined that admitting the fact that the plaintiff had previously used marijuana, but not within the 36 hours leading up to the accident, would not be proper. Thus, the court prevented the defendant’s expert witness from testifying to that effect.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was driving southbound on the highway in the evening hours. The defendant was a truck driver who was also traveling on the highway, although in the opposite direction. The defendant had previously pulled off the highway to take a nap and was pulling back onto the highway when he struck the plaintiff’s vehicle.
The plaintiff has no recollection of the accident, although his passenger testified that the truck suddenly appeared in their lane, and, despite the plaintiff’s attempts to avoid the truck, he was unable to do so. The plaintiff suffered serious injuries and was hospitalized as a result. During his hospitalization, he was asked if he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. He responded that he occasionally smokes marijuana but had not within the past 36 hours.
A preliminary drug test was administered, and it showed that there were inactive metabolites of THC (the active ingredient of marijuana) in the plaintiff’s blood. The defendant wanted to present this fact to the jury through an expert witness. However, since the test was only a preliminary one, it did not test for the active metabolite of THC.
The defendant’s expert was going to testify that, in his experience, when there are levels of the inactive metabolite as high as there were in the plaintiff’s blood, there are always active metabolites present as well. Also, the plaintiff had a fast heart rate, had high blood pressure, and suffered from amnesia – key indications of marijuana use.
The plaintiff argued that the expert should not be permitted to testify because the test that was actually administered did not show that any active metabolite was present, and to allow the expert witness to testify otherwise would be improper.
The court agreed with the plaintiff and prevented the defendant’s expert witness from testifying. The court explained that the plaintiff’s physical state at the hospital could be explained by the fact that he had recently been seriously injured in a car accident. The court also found that the amount of active metabolite that was actually in the plaintiff’s blood was uncertain, and even if there were active metabolites in his blood, the defendant failed to prove that the plaintiff was impaired by the use of marijuana.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Truck Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland trucking accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The skilled Maryland personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers have decades of experience helping accident victims hold those who caused their injuries responsible. Call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated attorney to discuss your case today. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for our time unless we can help you recover the compensation you deserve.
More Blog Posts:
Slowed Highway Traffic Creates Major Hazard for Sleepy or Distracted Bus Drivers, Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, published July 12, 2017.
The Dangers of Maryland Dirt Roads, Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, published August 3, 2017.