Wrong-way accidents, which may also fall into the category of head-on or frontal impact crashes, happen frequently. These collisions perhaps occur most often when a motorist turns down a one-way road or misses signs warning them that an interstate ramp is an off-bound instead of an inbound one.
Much like any other front-impact crash, wrong-way accidents can cause motorists involved to suffer serious injuries or die. It can be helpful to learn more about this collision type and how your lawyer will determine fault in a wrong-way accident if you or a loved one has become entangled in one of them.
How Common Are Wrong-Way Accidents?
A recent American Automobile Association (AAA) study revealed that the number of wrong-way accidents occurring nationwide has increased by 34% over the past few years.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics show that front-impact, head-on, or wrong-way collisions are most common in rural areas. The federal agency’s data also shows that at least 13% of these incidents claim a motorist’s life.
Why Wrong-Way Accidents Occur
These collisions most commonly occur when a driver travels into an adjoining traffic lane, colliding with oncoming traffic. In seeking to determine fault in a wrong-way accident, an attorney may note that it occurred because a motorist:
- Falls asleep at the wheel
- Becomes distracted
- Is intoxicated
- Experiences tire failure
- Tries to pass on a two-lane road without enough space
- Isn’t familiar with a roadway’s design
- Takes evasive steering action to avoid a hazard
The list above is far from comprehensive but is a quick listing of some reasons why a driver may be involved in a wrong-way accident.
As previously referenced, though, the second most common reason wrong-way accidents occur is because motorists travel in the wrong direction alongside an interstate off-ramp.
Catastrophic results may occur when a motorist traveling in the wrong direction is gradually accelerating in preparation for joining the quicker flow of traffic on an interstate and comes in contact with a decelerating motorist looking to join the slower-paced flow of traffic on city streets.
Another situation that may result in a wrong-way accident is when a driver is traveling within a downtown setting where there’s an abundance of one-way streets. A motorist unfamiliar with an area or merely disoriented may inadvertently crash into motorists in their path. The same logic applies when a parking lot has enter and exit-only areas. Two vehicles may collide when a motorist enters or departs from an area they shouldn’t.
Are Wrong-Way Crashes Avoidable?
Wrong-way crashes are largely preventable. Motorists can significantly curb their risks of becoming involved in this type of collision by ensuring they’re well-rested, completely focused on operating their vehicle, and sober before getting behind the wheel of their car.
Motorists can also minimize their risks of causing or ending up in a wrong-way collision by paying closer attention to street signs, signals, and marking. Doing so is especially important if you’re coming upon a road construction zone, a newly redesigned intersection, or simply traveling into an unfamiliar area where you’re unsure how the streets are oriented.
All motorists confronted with the prospect of being struck by a wrong-way driver can also do our part to minimize the chances of a wrong-way crash occurring. If faced with a driver heading in the wrong direction, it may be ideal to steer your vehicle to the right, into a parking lot, shoulder, or even a ditch if necessary to avoid a crash.
You should simultaneously honk your horn, flash your lights, wave your arms, and even scream if you think your voice will project far enough to get a wrong-way driver’s attention to let them know they’re doing something wrong.
Injuries That Often Result from Wrong-Way Collisions
The impact that a vehicle and its occupants inside sustain when two cars collide head-on with each other often equates to double that of other types of crashes.
Essentially, whatever speed the wrong-way driver is traveling when the incident occurs is added to the speed the victim was operating their car at when the crash occurred. This means that the blunt force trauma and other impact that vehicle occupants suffer is likely to be much worse than what would result in other collisions.
In trying to determine fault in a wrong-way accident, attorneys often discover that motorists suffer the following injuries in these crashes:
- Internal organ damage
- Neck and head injuries
- Fractured bones
- Spinal cord injuries
While your vehicle is built to sustain some degree of impact before any damage permeates into the passenger compartment, a vehicle’s speed and size can intensify the damage. Motorists involved in wrong-way crashes also often die.
Proving Fault Necessary to Recover Compensation in a Wrong-Way Accident Case
Liability is something that’s frequently challenging to prove in any accident case. However, the nature of how wrong-way accidents occur may make it a bit easier to do so following this type of collision versus other ones.
Of course, photographs and videos, your personal and witnesses’ accounts of what occurred, and other evidence may help with fault determination. There are some instances in which it may be necessary to bring in a crash scene investigator to perform additional analyses to ensure that your car accident lawyer can adequately determine fault in a wrong-way accident.
Your initial consultation with a car accident lawyer allows them to learn more about your collision and resulting injuries. It also allows one of our Pittman Roberts & Welsh, PLLC attorneys to go over the requirements we must meet when proving that a motorist violated Mississippi negligence standards. We can then highlight the legal rights that you are entitled to exercise in your case.
Statutes of limitations apply in virtually every personal injury case. Take time to make scheduling a one-on-one consultation with an attorney a priority. It’s the first step in the right direction to staking a claim to compensation in your wrong-way accident case.