How Do Wrong Way Accidents Happen?

Crashes involving wrong-way drivers are some of the most catastrophic types of accidents due to their head-on nature at potentially high speeds. In a moment, and with no warning, a reckless or drunk driver can cross the centerline and change others’ lives forever. 

Reasons Why Wrong Way Accidents Happen

Unfortunately, wrong-way accidents happen more often than you might think. Driver error is the most frequent cause of wrong-way car accidents, and the reasons for such a serious mistake behind the wheel include:

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or prescription medications
  • Driving while tired or drowsy
  • Driving under duress
  • Distracted driving, including cell phone use and texting
  • Poorly marked exit and entrance ramps
  • Poorly designed exit and entrance ramps
  • Lack of proper signage
  • Lack of visibility
  • Unfamiliarity with roadways

According to the Federal Highway Administration, wrong-way car accidents cause over 400 deaths each year. In fact, the fatality rate for wrong-way accidents is 12 to 27 percent higher than all other types of motor vehicle collisions. If a wrong-way accident is not fatal, the injuries drivers and passengers sustain are often extremely severe, requiring surgery, long-term medical treatment, and rehabilitation.

Who Is Liable in a Wrong Way Car Accident?

All drivers in California owe other people on the road a duty of care to drive safely. When someone breaches that duty and causes an accident, they are responsible for damages. A driver going the wrong way on the road is typically at fault for an accident. However, there may be multiple liable parties, such as a government entity if the traffic signs were confusing or a construction company that removed or blocked important signs. 

Hiring an attorney will be in your best interests, as they will investigate the cause of the accident and gather evidence to prove which parties are liable for your losses. 

Types of Damages Available to You in a Wrong Way Accident Claim

After a car accident caused by the negligent actions of a wrong-way driver, injury victims have the right to pursue “damages.” Damages are a form of monetary compensation for the physical, financial, or emotional losses you have endured as a result of the crash. The types of damages you are entitled to can include:

Medical Expenses

Money to cover any medical care related to your accident injuries and the cost of future treatment. 

Loss of Income

Compensation for the time you miss from work while recovering and any loss of future earning capacity if your injuries force you into a different line of work. 

Pain & Suffering

When a person’s injuries cause undue physical pain or emotional distress. Pain and suffering damages are considered non-economic damages since they are incalculable losses and subjectively awarded a monetary value. 

Loss of Consortium

A severe car accident can impact a victim’s ability to maintain a relationship with their spouse, either physically and emotionally, or both. In these instances, the victim’s spouse can pursue damages for loss of consortium or loss of companionship.

What to Do If You See a Wrong Way Driver

You cannot predict when a wrong-way driver will be on the road, but you can be prepared. Practice driving defensively — especially at night — looking ahead for oncoming threats. Most of the time, wrong-way drivers travel in the fast lane because they believe they are in the slow lane. If you see one of a wrong-way driver coming towards you, follow these tips:

  • Slow down 
  • Veer into the slow lane or pull over to the shoulder
  • Remain alert in case you need to make a split-second decision. 
  • Call 911 when you can. 
  • If it comes down to either crashing into a wrong-way driver or hitting a stationary object, it is always better to hit a fixed object. 

Talk to a Sacramento Wrong-Way Accident Lawyer Today

If you or your family has been affected by a wrong-way accident, contact Eric Ratinoff Law Corp today. Our Sacramento car accident attorneys offer free consultations and are here to help you fight for the money you deserve.