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Wrong Way traffic sign
Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp
(833) 997-1774

Wrong-way crashes are a harrowing phenomenon on roads and highways, often resulting in devastating consequences due to their sudden and unexpected nature. These accidents occur when a vehicle travels in the opposite direction of traffic flow on a divided highway or freeway. They are typically caused by drivers entering an exit ramp or driving through a median or barrier designed to separate opposing lanes.

Statistically, wrong-way accidents are not as common as other types of crashes, but the damage and injuries they cause are frequently tragic. Due to the high speeds involved on highways, the impact of such collisions is severe, often resulting in multiple fatalities and serious injuries. The suddenness of encountering a vehicle moving towards you in your lane leaves little time for drivers to react, contributing to the severity of the crashes.

According to national statistics, approximately 500 people are killed each year in wrong-way accidents. Thousands more are severely injured, often left with permanent disabilities. If you or a loved one has been injured in a wrong-way accident, call our office to speak with a Norfolk personal injury lawyer.

Common Injuries

Wrong-way accidents often result in severe injuries due to the high speed and sudden nature of the collisions. Some of the most common injuries sustained in wrong-way accidents include:

  • Head and brain injuries – These can range from concussions to traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), which are common due to the forces involved in high-speed collisions.
  • Spinal cord injuries – Impact from wrong-way accidents can cause spinal fractures or injuries to the spinal cord, leading to paralysis or long-term neurological damage.
  • Whiplash and neck injuries – Rapid acceleration and deceleration can cause whiplash, a neck injury resulting from sudden movement of the head backward and forward.
  • Crushed and fractured bones – Collisions at high speeds often result in fractures or broken bones, especially in the arms, legs, ribs, and pelvis.
  • Internal injuries – Blunt force trauma from the impact can cause internal injuries such as organ damage, internal bleeding, and abdominal injuries.
  • Burns – In cases where vehicles catch fire or explode upon impact, burns can result from contact with flames, hot surfaces, or chemicals.
  • Cuts, lacerations, and bruises – Impact with vehicle interiors, broken glass, or other objects can cause cuts, lacerations, and bruises.

The severity of these injuries can vary widely depending on the vehicles’ speed, whether occupants were wearing seatbelts, the type of vehicles colliding, and other factors. Prompt medical attention is crucial for survivors of wrong-way accidents to minimize long-term complications and improve outcomes.

Factors that Cause Wrong-Way Crashes

One of the primary reason for wrong way crashes is driver error. There are several reasons why this error occurs. Driver confusion is one common cause. This is often the case when the at-fault driver is elderly; however, it can also happen if the driver is unfamiliar with the area where they are driving. Other common factors include distracted driving, driver fatigue, poorly designed roads, or bad weather that hampers a driver’s ability to see.

However, the most frequent cause of wrong-way crashes – and probably the most preventable – is because the driver of the vehicle traveling in the wrong direction is intoxicated, either under the influence of alcohol or drugs. About 75 percent of drivers in wrong-way accidents have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of twice the legal limit.

Legal Options

Virginia law allows for victims of accidents to pursue damages for the losses they have suffered against the at-fault party. A victim can receive financial compensation for medical expenses, lost wages and benefits, emotional anguish, and pain and suffering. When injuries have left the victim permanently disabled, they may also be entitled to compensation for loss of future income, loss of life enjoyment, scarring, disfigurement, and more.

When the at-fault driver’s behavior is especially egregious, they may also be ordered to pay the victim punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended to punish the at-fault party for the unsafe behavior that caused the accident and send a message to society that this type of behavior will not be tolerated.

Call Our Personal Injury Law Firm for Legal Assistance

The legal team at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp has advocated for injured victims and their families for over 35 years. We understand how devastating – both physically and financially – wrong way crashes can be for victims and their families. Our Norfolk car accident attorneys have built solid reputations for working diligently for our clients to obtain the best possible financial outcome based on the circumstances of your case, securing more than $100 million in settlement and verdicts for our injured clients.

Contact our office today to schedule a free case evaluation and find out what legal options you may have. For your convenience, we have offices in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Hampton, and Portsmouth.

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