Who is Liable for a Wrong-Way Accident?
When a wrong-way car accident occurs, it may seem obvious that the driver traveling in the wrong direction is to blame for the crash. However, there are other possible liable parties. There are many issues that may contribute to the cause of the accident, such as poor road signs, auto defects, and other factors. To determine fault in any car accident case, it takes a full investigation of the evidence. Once evidence is compiled, the case must prove the other party’s negligent actions caused the collision in order to establish a favorable claim for damages.
It is not enough to prove that the other car had been traveling in the wrong direction at the time of the accident. A claim must show that there was some element of negligence involved in order to prove the case. When seeking a favorable ruling in a personal injury case, the claimant must be able to present evidence that someone’s negligent actions led to the accident.
What Commonly Causes Wrong-Way Collisions?
When one car crashes into another in a wrong-way accident, it is often a head-on collision or a similar frontal crash. Colliding in that way, especially at high speeds, can cause serious and catastrophic injuries.
According to a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) study, more than 60 percent of wrong-way accidents are caused by drunk driving. The actual number is likely higher since not every reported wrong-way crash included information on the blood alcohol content (BAC) level of the drivers involved. Among the reported instances, each of the drivers had a BAC of 0.15 percent or higher, which is nearly twice the legal limit.
Besides drunk driving, the NTSB listed some other factors that cause wrong-way accidents, including the following:
Entering Exit Ramp: When a driver mistakenly enters a highway in the wrong direction, the culprit may be unclear signage or confusing access. This usually happens when a driver is unfamiliar with the layout of the road and erroneously accesses a highway traveling against traffic.
Nighttime Driving: The time of day increases the risk of wrong-way accidents. When it is dark outside, drivers are more likely to miss poorly placed or poorly lit signage. Like drunk driving, drowsy driving is more likely to happen late at night. The NTSB study found that 78 percent of wrong-way driving accidents took place between 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.
Weekend Driving: The NTSB study also found that wrong-way crashes occurred more often on weekends. This is likely related to the increased amount of intoxicated drivers on the roads on Friday nights through Sunday nights.
Older Drivers: Elderly drivers over 70 years old made up a significant portion of the at-fault drivers in wrong-way crashes. It has been suggested that this is due to declining vision that may interfere with safe driving, such as the inability to properly read road signs.
Lane Position: Wrong-way accidents are more common when the cars are traveling in the lane closest to the median. The NTSB study showed that this is the case in seven out of nine wrong-way collisions.
Other driver behaviors can influence the likelihood of a wrong-way accident. Some wrong-way accidents are caused by drivers with mental health issues, dementia, memory loss, and vision problems. Drivers who caused these accidents may have misunderstood road signs or missed them entirely.
Aggressive driving can also cause a wrong-way collision. If a driver decides to pass another car and misjudges their proximity to the oncoming traffic, they may hit a vehicle. On some occasions, a reckless driver might deliberately ignore road signs.
What are Some Factors That Determine Liability?
A wrong-way accident may be caused when a driver loses control of their car due to a vehicle malfunction, and the car or auto part manufacturer may be at fault. If the accident was caused by poor signage, a local government entity may be responsible. Safety issues that have been associated with wrong-way accidents also include road maintenance issues, weather conditions, and other traffic hazards. For help with establishing fault, a wrong-way car accident victim should speak to a lawyer. A lawyer can help the victim with their case.
Highland Park Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Help Injured Victims of Wrong-Way Crashes Establish Liability
If you were injured in a wrong-way car accident, you may be able to collect damages; however, determining fault may be difficult. A Highland Park car accident lawyer at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr will help you identify who is responsible for your car accident injuries. For more information and a free consultation about your case, call us at 732-537-8570 or complete our online form. Located in Highland Park, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, Colonia, Elizabeth, and Newark.