Whether we like to admit it or not, we make judgments about people every day based on their hair. We notice whether someone’s hair looks clean or not, whether it is styled nicely or unkempt, and whether it is “too long” or “too short” for our own personal tastes. While your hair can visually broadcast a great deal about you to the outside world, it can also serve as a sort of record-keeping system. In fact, by conducting certain tests on your hair, scientists can tell whether you smoke, drink to excess, do not drink at all, or use illegal drugs. Such tests have even found their way into courtrooms and could have implications in personal injury lawsuits.
A Retrospective History
When the human body breaks down ingested substances like drugs or alcohol, microscopic remnants of the drug or byproducts of breaking down the drug remain in various places in the body. As hair grows, it is “built” using components that include these remnants, leaving traces of the drug—called metabolites—in the hair permanently.
Over the last few decades, testing methods have improved dramatically. This means that testers can use your hair to establish a history of your alcohol or drug use—or lack thereof. It is important to keep in mind that hair testing is often best suited for showing patterns of behavior or events when there should not be events.
Trends vs. Events
If you regularly consume alcohol, your hair contains traces of alcohol metabolites that would show testers that alcohol is a part of your lifestyle. It would be virtually impossible for a hair test to show whether or not you were drinking on a particular day last month because there is almost always a certain amount of alcohol metabolites in your body at any given time. If you stopped drinking for several months, however, the base-level of metabolites in your hair would drop, making it more obvious to testers if you drank heavily one night after weeks of not drinking at all.
The same would be true for illegal drugs. If you have never used cocaine in your life, for example, a single use would likely leave detectable traces in your hair.
Using Hair Tests in Court
In 2017, a court in the United Kingdom recognized the validity of hair testing in a case involving a mother who claimed she had not used cocaine. The court found that hair testing could be used to show patterns of drug use and abuse reliably enough for its purposes. But, how could the same ideas be applied to cases involving personal injuries?
The answer, as usual, is that it depends. It depends largely on the claims being made in a given case and the response or defense to those claims. For example, assume you were injured in a car accident that you believed to have been caused by a driver who was under the influence of something other than alcohol. At the scene, however, nobody was arrested or ordered to undergo drug testing. The other driver claimed that he has never used an illegal drug in his life and that he was not on any prescription medications at the time of the crash, either. It is possible that hair testing could support or refute the other driver’s claims.
We Can Help
At Woolf Law Firm, LLC, we understand that courts are not likely to order personal injury defendants to undergo hair testing when drug or alcohol use is in question, but there may be ways that hair testing could help your case. Contact an experienced Connecticut personal injury attorney to discuss your options today. Call 860-290-8690 for a free consultation.