All accidents are devastating, but the level of devastation can vary with the type of accident, with wrong way car accidents at the top of the list. In addition to the immediate physical harm these accidents can cause, the psychological trauma of being involved in such an unpredictable, high-impact event can linger for years. It can leave victims with an immense fear of driving, significantly affecting their day-to-day life.
There are several reasons why wrong way car accidents result in devastating outcomes. First, most drivers are least prepared for such an accident to occur. These accidents typically happen so quickly that there is little or no time to react. Defensive driving techniques can often mitigate the severity of more common accident types, but their effectiveness is significantly reduced in wrong way car incidents.
Also, most wrong way car accidents result in head-on collisions, which have a high chance of severe injuries, especially when high speed is also a factor. For example, if two vehicles are traveling in opposite directions at 70mph, the collision would result in a force of impact equivalent to an accident at 140mph, where the chances of survival can be pretty slim.
The severe impact can cause life-threatening injuries like traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and multiple fractures that require immediate and extensive medical intervention.
The Driver on the Wrong Side Is Usually At Fault
A driver will be liable or at fault for an accident where there is proof of negligence. Lawyers and insurance adjusters must prove the four elements of negligence when establishing fault in an accident: duty of care; breach of duty; causation; and damages.
Often, establishing these elements requires thorough accident reconstruction and evidence collection, which may involve consulting expert witnesses and obtaining surveillance footage or physical evidence from the accident scene.
Duty of care refers to the care every road user owes other road users. If they fail to uphold that care, they will be in breach of care. If the breach of care results in an accident and damages, the driver will be liable for the accident and consequently obligated to compensate the victim.
The most common types of negligent conduct responsible for most wrong way car accidents include DUI, distracted driving, and fatigued or drowsy driving. In some instances, proof of these behaviors can come from police reports, toxicology tests, eyewitness accounts, or the negligent driver’s admission of fault.
Governmental Entity Fault
There are situations where the cause of the wrong way car accident may not be the driver. One such situation is where road signage problems are confusing to the driver, resulting in them getting on the wrong way.
Poor road signage can be caused by missing traffic signs, faded lane marks, confusing or obstructed signage, poorly marked on and off-ramps, etc. These problems are exacerbated by poor lighting or weather conditions, further reducing visibility and clarity.
Under such situations, fault and liability will fall on the governmental entity responsible for maintaining the road. Winning a case against a governmental entity is not always easy since a governmental body may enjoy sovereign immunity, which shields it against civil lawsuits.
However, exceptions to this rule exist, and sometimes, the immunity can be waived in cases of gross negligence or misconduct. Therefore, it is essential to work with a lawyer well-versed in government liability laws.
“However, there are pathways for getting compensation from governmental agencies that only a skilled car accident lawyer may have the ability to navigate. So ensure you contact a lawyer as early as possible,” says Attorney Roger Gelb of Gelb & Gelb, P.C. The importance of early legal advice in such cases can’t be overstated, as it can significantly increase the likelihood of a successful claim. Your attorney can help gather evidence, file the necessary paperwork, and negotiate with the involved entities, relieving you of the stress during this challenging time.
Wrong way car accidents are also quite common in construction zones where drivers are supposed to take detours around a road section under repair. It is the contractor’s responsibility to place signage and direct traffic around the construction zone.
If a contractor fails in their responsibility, resulting in an accident, they will be at fault for the accident and thus liable for damages. Notably, some construction companies carry liability insurance to cover such instances, which might be another source for victims to obtain compensation.
However, suppose the contractor held up their end of the bargain and a driver violated construction zone regulations such as speed limits or failed to follow directions and caused an accident. In that case, they will be liable for the accident. It’s also crucial to remember that penalties for traffic violations in construction zones are often much higher due to the increased risk to construction workers and other drivers.
There are also situations where all entities involved in a case could share fault. In some states, partial fault can mean losing out on compensation altogether. In other states, the amount of compensation you recover in an accident where you are partially at fault will be relative to your percentage of fault.
This rule is known as comparative negligence, which allows each party to be held accountable according to their level of responsibility in causing the accident.
If you get into an accident where the fault is highly disputed, pursuing the case without the help of a lawyer may not be a good idea, as the other side can use partial fault to deny you what you deserve. A competent personal injury attorney can assess your case, gather crucial evidence, and negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf to ensure that your legal rights are fully protected and that you receive the maximum compensation you’re entitled to.