When a driver is drunk, they cannot process information in the same manner as everyone else. Drunk drivers may be speeding or driving recklessly. They may see a road sign but are unable to process its significance or make the connection that they are not supposed to be in a certain lane.
Our Charleston car accident lawyers explain how drunk drivers going the wrong way are at-risk of causing devastating, potentially fatal car crashes.
Wrong-Way Crashes Can Cause Serious Injury or Death
Wrong-way crashes are extremely dangerous because both cars will strike each other head-on. Head-on car accidents account for only 2 percent of the total crashes in the United States, but they result in 10 percent of car accident fatalities (NHTSA, “Crashes, by First Harmful Event, Manner of Collision, and Crash Severity”, 2020). Head-on crashes release the most physical force, and there is the highest chance that an injured driver can be ejected through the windshield.
Recent Fatal Wrong-Way Car Crashes in South Carolina
While it’s sometimes unknown whether or not alcohol has played a factor in head-on collisions, recent fatal wrong-way crashes in South Carolina demonstrate the catastrophic and tragic effects of head-on accidents.
- A wrong-way driver in September 2022 caused a three-car crash on I-77 that killed four people and seriously injured two. A driver of a pickup truck collided head-on with another car, and a third car became involved in the crash.
- In August 2022, the driver of a car was killed when they were traveling in the north in the southbound lanes of US-301 in Orangeburg.
- In October 2021, a wrong-way drunk driver killed four people in a crash on I-77. A five-year-old was killed in the car that she struck, while a pair of sisters and another person were killed in another car that became involved in the accident.
Other Factors That Cause Wrong-Way Crashes
Wrong-way crashes are also more likely to happen at night because drivers are less able to see directional signs. In addition to drunk driving, distracted driving is also a major cause of wrong-way accidents. Distracted drivers may veer out of their lane. All it takes is a few seconds of looking down at a device or away from the road to miss a critical road sign. Unfocused drivers may miss the sign telling them that they are entering the highway in the wrong direction.
The risk of wrong-way accidents is high in rural areas, where two-lane routes predominate, and drivers are traveling at a higher rate of speed.
What to Do When You See a Wrong-Way Driver
If you see a wrong-way driver in your path, you should slow down and ease your foot off the gas. Do not stop in your current lane. After checking whether there is a car in either lane to the side of you, switch lanes as soon as it is safe. Pull over and immediately call law enforcement about the driver in the wrong lane, including any vehicle details you remember. Don’t follow the wrong-way driver. Alerting the driver by honking your horn may be ineffective if the driver going the wrong way is intoxicated.
Potential Claims After a Wrong-Way Car Accident
If you have suffered an injury by a drunk driver in a wrong-way accident, you can file a civil claim against them in a personal injury action. It does not matter whether they have been criminally charged or convicted. The two legal processes are largely separate (although a guilty plea in a drunk driving case can be admitted in a civil lawsuit).
A civil lawsuit relies on a different standard of proof than a criminal case. In a civil case, you need to prove your case by a “preponderance of the evidence”, which is a lower standard than “beyond a reasonable doubt” that a prosecutor must prove in a criminal case.
If your loved one was killed by a wrong-way drunk driver, your family could file a wrongful death claim against the responsible motorist. A wrongful death action is the family’s own case, with the loss being the death of your loved one.
Call a Charleston Car Accident Attorney Today
The team of the Bringardner Injury Law Firm is made up of impassioned advocates that you need when your car accident compensation is at stake. You always need someone to speak up for you because the insurance company will do you no favors.
To schedule your free initial consultation, you can send us a message online or call us today. You do not need to pay us unless you win your case.
Wrong-Way Crash FAQs
What happens if a wrong-way drunk driver is acquitted in a criminal case?
It does not matter for your civil case. You can still win your civil case, even if the driver is not punished criminally.
Do I need an attorney for a civil drunk driving accident case?
It is almost always a good idea to have an attorney represent you for an accident. Even if liability is not in question, the amount of compensation that you can receive is in question, and you need someone to fight hard for you to make sure you get the best settlement possible.
How long will my car accident case take?
It depends on many factors, and some of them are out of your control. Our goal is to work as quickly and efficiently as possible.