Did someone drive the wrong way and cause a severe accident? Let’s hold them accountable for hurting you!
Driving the wrong way on the road isn’t “just an accident” and is often a negligent act. Maybe the person was ignoring road signs, texting while driving, or so intoxicated that they were a danger to everyone on the road.
Did they go the wrong way on a one-way street? Did they pull onto a highway ramp going the wrong direction? Did they ram into you head-on while driving on a scenic California byway? That’s no accident!
Whatever the cause, when someone harms you in a car accident due to their wrong-way driving, you can hold them responsible for your damages. Here in the state of California, injured people have rights and strong protections under the law.
As an injured victim, you’re now facing a painful and expensive recovery process. You may need a trip to the emergency room, reconstructive surgery, multiple doctors’ visits, and months of rehabilitation.
Even as your bills pile up, you’re missing work and missing out on precious time with your family. It’s time to turn to the car accident team at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers for help securing the compensation you deserve.
We help injured Californians secure full, fair compensation after severe car accidents, including wrong-way accidents. Your successful claim can help you cover your medical bills and other costs, plus we can help you pursue a maximum settlement that keeps you out of court.
Below, we’ll explain more about how California law works with wrong-way accidents and what you need to know about making an accident claim. In the meantime, you can also get more information by requesting a free case evaluation from our team.
Things to Know About California Wrong-Way Accidents
Wrong-way accidents aren’t as common as other types of accidents, but they can be deadly. National statistics show that more than 350 people die in wrong-way accidents in an average year.
What many people don’t realize is that fully 60% of all wrong-way accidents occur due to drunk driving. An estimated 20% more are due to driver distraction and failures to properly follow road signs.
It’s also important to know that in some situations, a wrong-way driver is protected under the law. For example, if someone is driving the wrong way on a two-lane road with a dashed line to pass a slower-moving vehicle, this could be legal. Still, they’re not permitted to blatantly cause a head-on crash.
If you’re the unfortunate victim of someone who slams into you while going the wrong way, you could have a tough journey to securing the funds you need to fully recover. Accident victims in California aren’t always automatically compensated at the level they deserve. You might have to fight for your right to claim the coverage you deserve.
Hiring a car accident lawyer helps you protect your rights after a wrong-way crash, plus your lawyer helps you finally get to the bottom of what happened in the accident. Your next steps strongly impact how successful your claim might be.
Seek Treatment and Save Your Bills
After your wrong-way accident, it’s important to accept proper medical care even if you’re not sure about the full extent of your injuries. Seek a medical assessment immediately and follow the doctor’s instructions about healing from your injuries.
There’s no second chance to get the proper healthcare you need after a traumatic accident like this. If you fail to seek medical care now, you could regret it later. Plus, your case will be built from medical evidence like hospital bills and your doctor’s diagnosis.
You can still seek treatment even if you don’t travel by ambulance or go to the ER. An urgent care center can assess your injuries and direct you to the proper care for your specific injuries. By locating immediate treatment, you’re establishing exactly when your accident happened and showing your injuries are directly attributable to it.
Gathering Evidence of a Wrong-Way Crash
What if the person who caused the accident denies what happened? What if the police aren’t being as helpful as you hoped? Don’t worry. It’s common for there to be confusion about what happened. That’s why you need the help of a car accident lawyer.
As soon as possible after the crash, start gathering car accident evidence that proves what happened and sharing it with your lawyer. Take videos and photos from the scene of your wrong-way accident showing car damage, nearby debris, and relevant road signs that make it clear the person was going the wrong way.
Also, take photos of your injuries and include any wrappings, crutches, medications, or scarring you have from your crash. Write your thoughts in a daily journal that documents your emotional injuries and the enormous impact the accident is having on your life.
In California, drivers in accidents should exchange contact and insurance information and speak to the police about details that will go into the police report. Try to focus on the facts and avoid getting into an extended debate about what happened.
Next, reach out to the police department to obtain a copy of the police report, which will become a key piece of evidence in your wrong-way accident case. Your lawyer can help add context to the police report for other parties like the court and insurance company, further strengthening your case.
Speak Carefully and Stay Off Social Media
When discussing your accident, don’t share details with anyone but your lawyer and the police. This includes the insurance company. They aren’t your friend after an accident and will be looking for ways to deny or minimize your claim.
Don’t allow anyone to record your conversation without your permission and don’t give out your social security number or other details to anyone until you talk to a lawyer. Certain information is legal to withhold in California and it might be in your best interests to do so.
A wrong-way accident is a life-changing situation, but please don’t talk about it on social media. Anything shared online can easily be captured and used against you in your case by the other side, twisting your words. Insurance reps often look through social media accounts, searching for anything that supports their preferred version of events instead of yours.
Why Do Wrong-Way Crashes Happen in California?
After the initial shock of the accident wears off, you’ll be looking for answers about what happened. Why did the person drive the wrong way? Will they be held responsible for your losses? A free case evaluation with a qualified car accident lawyer will reveal more details specific to your accident, but some general information is below.
Bad Signage/Lighting Leads to Wrong-Way Driving
Drivers often blame wrong-way accidents on poor or missing road signs, and this could be a contributor to your crash. If the “wrong way” sign was missing at the intersection, the other driver may have mistakenly made a turn down the road for this reason.
You’ll need evidence like photos that capture these missing road signs or lighting problems to hold a government agency or private company responsible for your crash. Talk to your lawyer
Low visibility due to bad weather might be a contributor to the crash, but it isn’t necessarily a way to release someone from liability. California drivers are expected to adapt to changing road conditions and be extra vigilant in bad weather.
Drunk or Drugged Drivers Turn the Wrong Way
Research has found that 50% of all drivers killed in California road collisions test positive for intoxicating substances in post-crash autopsies. Plus, 77% of all drunk driving fatalities involve drivers who are repeat offenders and have been caught drunk driving before.
Because drunk/drugged driving is involved in the majority of California wrong-way crashes, Caltrans has installed additional warning mechanisms at many intersections that are prone to wrong-way drunk driving. They alert the California Highway Patrol to intervene when people are traveling the wrong way.
Still, it’s almost impossible to stop all drugged and drunk drivers from making wrong-way turns. When someone becomes too intoxicated to make safe driving decisions, they’re a danger to everyone on the road.
Distracted Driving Causes Wrong-Way Crashes
Distracted drivers also cause a large proportion of wrong-way crashes because they aren’t paying attention to road signs and directional markers. The CDC attributes more than 2,800 deaths and 400,000 injuries to distracted driving each year.
Smartphones are a major culprit, but other things also cause drivers to take their eyes off the road, like food, music, navigation technology, and roadside distractions. One moment of distraction is all it takes for someone to drive the wrong way.
Additional Causes of Driving the Wrong Way
There are also other reasons someone might drive the wrong way. Although these issues might contribute to wrong-way crashes, they aren’t necessarily excuses that will allow someone to avoid the blame. They could be used as evidence of negligence.
- Joyriding and reckless driving
- Partial blindness, memory loss, or other health problems
- Driving while extremely emotionally distressed
- Having unruly or drunk passengers who interfere with driving
- Falling asleep at the wheel
Common Injuries in Wrong-Way Accidents
Here are some of the most common injuries accident lawyers see from wrong-way collisions.
- Bruising, scratches, and other skin damage
- Damage to the face, eyes, and eye sockets
- Dental injuries
- Hand and ankle injuries
- Head injuries like traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Broken bones
- Torn muscles/ligaments
- Severe back and spinal cord injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Nerve damage, which can lead to chronic pain
- Ongoing loss of feeling, numbness, and tingling in the extremities
- Burns/scalds from fire, explosions, and chemicals
- Permanent or temporary paralysis
- Emotional trauma
How Insurance Works After a Wrong-Way Crash
Insurance could cover some or all of your costs, but it’s also possible that the insurance company will resist delivering the full value you deserve. Contact us for a free online evaluation of your case. Below are some important things you should know.
Just like your lawyers and the police, the insurance company will do an investigation into your wrong-way driving accident. They’ll interview the parties involved, look over the police report, and see what supports or refutes your claims.
You’ll have very little control over this part of the process. The good news is that your lawyer can provide valuable insight that keeps your case moving and heading in the right direction.
The next stage is the offer and consideration stage where the insurance makes you an offer. It’s likely to be a lowball offer. Insurance companies do this to minimize their payments, so practice patience during this phase. Work with your lawyer to maximize the value of your case.
Assigning Fault in California Wrong-Way Accidents
California uses the comparative fault rule for car accidents, which involves assigning percentages of blame. This means your goal will be to show you hold minimal blame and the other person holds most or all of the blame.
Furthermore, any monetary award you receive will be reduced by your percentage of fault. And if there are three or more parties, all will be assigned a proportion up to a total amount of 100% and the responsibility will be doled out accordingly.
Your lawyer can help you identify the full list of who is involved in your crash. Maybe the other driver works for a commercial trucking company, is a DoorDash delivery driver, or was driving passengers for a company like Uber. This creates a more complicated case.
If you hold part of the blame for the wrong-way crash, this could severely reduce any award you might receive, but it doesn’t ruin your case entirely. Many factors will likely be under consideration in your case.
In wrong-way crashes, California judges, juries, insurance companies, lawyers, and other parties typically look at factors like:
- The damage to each vehicle from the wrong-way crash
- Whether drunk, drugged, or distracted driving was involved
- Road signs, especially wrong-way signs
- Video footage from vehicles, nearby buildings, residents, and traffic cams
- Police reports and the officer’s testimony
- Any applicable federal, state, and local laws and ordinances
- Eyewitness statements
- Nearby road construction
- The weather, time of day, and road conditions
The Deadline for Claims in Wrong-Way Accidents
Every state has a deadline, or statute of limitations, that impacts your timeframe for making an accident claim. Here in California, you must start your legal case within two years of the date of the rollover accident.
The timeline could be much shorter too. If your crash involves a governmental entity like a city, county, or state agency, you have just six months from the date of the accident.
The Right Lawyer for Wrong-Way Accident Claims
You should know that making the right choice about an accident lawyer could impact your case. Experience matters in complex cases like these. You need someone who knows what they’re doing and can work in your best interests while moving your case forward.
Unlike the insurance company, the team at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers won’t ignore certain aspects of your claim. We’re here to listen to your whole story and assess the full value of your emotional damage, lost earnings, and the impact on your suffering family.
Please contact us as soon as possible for more information about making an accident claim. The person who caused your wrong-way car crash should be held accountable and we’re here to help you get the results you deserve!
We Handle Your Wrong-Way Accident Claim So You Can Focus on Your Life
After a traffic accident, please contact the attorneys at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. We handle many areas of the law, including wrong-way crashes. We believe you should be able to focus on recovering while we handle the legal details.