The most deadly accidents are caused by a driver going the wrong way down a busy road or interstate. In many cases, it happens when a driver becomes confused or disoriented in an unfamiliar area, particularly at night. Before anybody is aware of what is happening—including the wayward driver—their vehicle is barreling down the road into oncoming traffic. Wrong-way accidents are scary and can cause catastrophic injuries which is why it’s important to call Indianapolis wrong-way accident lawyers as soon as you can.
Wrong-way accidents are particularly concerning for Indiana drivers. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic safety, wrong-way accidents increased 230% in Indiana over the course of a three-year period (2015-2018). This number is six times higher than the national average, which increased 32% over the same timeframe.
Because wrong-way accidents have such serious consequences for everyone involved, it’s crucial to get the help of a legal representative who specializes in car accident claims. At Poynter & Bucheri Accident Recovery, we have years of experience helping clients understand their legal rights, guiding them through insurance company negotiations and possible litigation, and making sure they receive the financial compensation they deserve.
Below is important information about wrong-way accidents, how they occur, and things that you can do to prevent an accident. It also explains how legal representation works and why it’s beneficial. For a free consultation to discuss the specifics of your case, contact us online 24/7 or call 1-800-265-9881 or (317) 780-8000 to speak with the Indianapolis wrong-way accident lawyers at Poynter & Bucheri Accident Recovery. Out of concern for injured Hoosiers, we provide initial consultations free of charge.
Statistics About Wrong-Way Accidents in Indianapolis
Although wrong-way accidents only account for about 3% of all accidents on the road, they are increasing in number and severity. For instance, the average number of fatal wrong-way accidents in the United States per year from 2010-2014 was 375. That same average rose to 500 fatalities per year between 2015-2018. That’s a 33% increase.
In Indiana, 86% of all collision accidents can be attributed to actions of the driver as opposed to vehicle error or malfunction. While relatively few collisions are fatal (.34%), the likelihood of fatality increases dramatically when the driver crosses over the center of a two-lane highway (25.9%) or drives the wrong way on a one-way street (25.6%).
Further data about wrong-way accidents in the United States has helped increase our understanding of these events and why they occur:
- On average 500 people die per year as a result of wrong-way accidents.
- Wrong-way accidents are much more likely to happen after dark, between the hours of midnight and 3 a.m.
- Statistically, people over 70 are more likely to cause a wrong-way accident than younger drivers.
- Wrong-way accidents occur most often when a car attempts to enter an exit ramp on the interstate.
- The majority of wrong-way accidents happen on the weekends.
- Many wrong-way accidents occur as a result of drunk driving and/or drug use.
Why do Wrong-Way Accidents Happen in Indianapolis?
People drive the wrong way because they become confused or disoriented. While every circumstance is different, there are a few common reasons why wrong-way accidents occur. Some of the most common reasons are listed below:
- A driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This is a common problem that leads to all kinds of car accidents, including wrong-way collisions. In fact, 6 out of 10 wrong-way crashes are alcohol-related. A driver who is under the influence of alcohol is less likely to see “wrong way” signs or clearly distinguish the logical flow of traffic. Similarly, someone under the influence of illegal or prescription drugs will have difficulty thinking clearly and reacting quickly. They may also experience drowsiness and other side effects that increase their chances of crossing over the centerline of the highway.
- The wrong-way driver is older. Though drivers over 70 are far less likely to drink and drive, they are more likely than younger drivers to be involved in wrong-way accidents. The CDC reports that older drivers, in general, are at greater risk of dying from a car accident. This is likely because older drivers find it increasingly difficult to see at night, particularly when conditions are wet. Additionally, cognitive decline and slower reaction times could be the reason for the increased risk.
- The driver is experiencing a medical emergency. Any number of medical conditions could cause the driver to become distracted and swerve into oncoming traffic. Some examples might include a heart attack, seizure, stroke, or panic attack. Even if an accident occurs as a result of a medical emergency, the driver can still be held liable.
- The driver is alone in the vehicle. The odds of a wrong-way accident increase when the driver doesn’t have a passenger. Without another person present to alert the driver that they are going the wrong way or that they have crossed the middle line, the driver is less likely to realize their mistake.
- The driver is distracted. Officially, more than 3,000 Americans die each year because of distracted driving, though the unofficial number is much higher. While people might believe that they can take their eyes off of the road for a few seconds to respond to a text message, eat a snack, change the radio station, or check their makeup, the reality is that a car traveling down the interstate can travel the length of a football field in under 5 seconds. Distracted driving would make it more likely for the driver to miss important signs or to cross over the middle line of a divided highway.
- Weather conditions create poor visibility. While it’s harder to see road signs in the dark, it’s also hard to spot important signs or lane designations when there is heavy rain or thick fog. Snow and ice that covers the ground or the signs could also create confusion and cause drivers to miss important information.
- Impatience. Some wrong-way accidents occur because a driver intentionally goes the wrong way in hopes of avoiding a traffic jam or taking a shortcut. They may believe that they can drive in the wrong direction for a second or two in order to save time.
- Lack of clear road signs. In some areas, the road signs that a driver would need to help them avoid making a mistake and turning into oncoming traffic simply aren’t there. This is especially true in rural areas where signs are less prevalent. It might also happen when a sign has been stolen or damaged in some way.
- Intent. In some cases, it’s not an accident that a driver is traveling in the wrong direction against traffic. An illegal U-turn will often lead to a situation where a driver is traveling the wrong way. Other times, drivers are going the wrong way as a form of joyriding or other intentional harm.
Common Injuries from Wrong-Way Accidents
Because wrong-way injuries are commonly head-on collisions, often at high speeds, the resulting injuries are usually quite serious. As noted above, these accidents are more likely to be fatal than most other types of collisions. Drivers who survive are likely to face life-altering injury and trauma. Some common examples include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries, resulting from a hit to the spinal cord itself or the surrounding ligaments, tissues, or vertebrae
- Broken bones
- Other types of catastrophic injuries
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Wrongful Death
The severity of many of these injuries can be reduced when drivers and passengers are wearing seatbelts and when airbags deploy, though the risk of injury is still very high.
If you have long-term injuries as a result of a wrong-way accident, you will likely need extensive follow-up treatment, which can be very costly and, in some cases, prevent you from returning to work. An injury claim with an experienced accident lawyer would include all of these expenses so that you receive the medical care and financial compensation you need.
Ways to Prevent Wrong-Way Accidents
Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the likelihood of wrong-way accidents. The report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety concluded its report about wrong-way accidents with a number of “countermeasures.”
- Improved signage. Implementing more signs that say “Wrong Way” or “Do Not Enter” is probably the easiest and least expensive way to prevent drivers from driving the wrong way. It would be important to make sure signs are visible and located in the appropriate spots. Reflective signs, as well as signs with flashing lights, have significantly reduced the number of wrong-way accidents.
- Improved road design. The structure of a road could also reduce the risk of drivers driving the wrong way. For instance, a divided median with a concrete wall or metal rail would decrease the number of drivers who cross the middle line. Also, roads and intersections with simple designs, clear visibility, and familiar traffic patterns could cut down on driver confusion.
- Alcohol ignition interlocks. Since alcohol is a common factor in many wrong-way accidents, alcohol ignition interlocks could be used to prevent the vehicle from starting if the driver’s blood alcohol content is too high.
- Dynamic alert systems. The foundation’s report also considered alternative methods that would help alert other drivers on the road about a wrong-way vehicle. A dynamic alert system, perhaps using digital signs or GPS applications, could be automated to send alerts to other drivers as well as law enforcement about a potential danger.
- Driver awareness. Drivers can also help protect themselves by being aware of oncoming headlights. Since many wrong-way drivers use the inside lane, believing that they are on a two-lane highway, avoiding the far left lane could be helpful. Similarly, drivers should avoid tailing other drivers, which would increase their own visibility and reaction time in the event of an oncoming vehicle.
What To Do If You’re the Victim of a Wrong-Way Accident
Unfortunately, wrong-way accident victims aren’t automatically compensated for their personal injuries or automobile damages. Insurance companies are notorious for denying legitimate claims or offering inadequate compensation.
That’s why it’s important to get legal representation as soon as possible. The Indianapolis wrong-way accident lawyers at Poynter & Bucheri Accident Recovery has experience negotiating with insurance companies so that our clients receive compensation that covers the full extent of their damages.
It’s also important to:
- Document any related medical treatment. It’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible following an accident so that you can document related injuries as well as the medical diagnosis. These bills, as well as any recommended follow-up treatment, should be covered in the claim.
- Collect evidence. The more evidence that you can gather to prove that the other driver was at fault, the stronger your case will be. This might include eye-witness testimony, photographs, surveillance video, a copy of the police report, etc.
- Be careful not to say too much about the accident. Anything that you say to the police, other eyewitnesses, or on social media could potentially be used against you by the insurance company.
Types of Wrong-Way Accident Compensation in Indianapolis
If you’re the victim in a wrong-way accident, there are several different ways that you can collect compensation for your expenses:
- Vehicle Damage
- Property Damage
- Medical Bills
- Lost Wages
- Pain and Suffering
- Wrongful Death
These categories aren’t mutually exclusive. One accident claim often includes several different types of compensation. It’s important to work with Indianapolis wrong-way accident lawyers who are trained to determine the value of a claim and has the legal expertise to fight for what you deserve.
Poynter & Bucheri Accident Recovery Can Help With Your Claim
If you or a loved one have been the victim of a wrong-way accident, then it’s crucial that you get legal representation as soon as possible to collect all relevant evidence and eyewitness testimony while it is still available.
Poynter & Bucheri are Indianapolis wrong-way accident lawyers who understand how to protect your rights, represent your interests, and fight to get the compensation that you deserve. Our personal injury lawyers have years of experience with helping clients in Central Indiana understand their legal options and receive high-value compensation for wrong-way accidents. Often, we are able to negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company, which eliminates the need to go to court and minimizes unnecessary time and stress.
We offer free consultations to review the details of your case, and we don’t charge any fees unless you win. Contact us online 24/7 or call 1-800-265-9881 to speak with a member of the Poynter & Bucheri Accident Recovery legal team.