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Wrong Way Car Accidents

What is a Wrong Way Accident?

A wrong way collision occurs if a driver is travelling in the opposite direction of traffic and hits another vehicle head-on. Despite not being the most common type of car crash, wrong way accidents are one of the most likely crashes to result in death. Over 360 people die in these types of collisions each year in the U.S., and 13 deaths have occurred in wrong way accidents in Rhode Island since 2008. Alcohol is the biggest factor involved in this type of crash, with the majority taking place on weekends during evening and late-night hours.

If you are a victim of a crash caused by a driver going in the wrong direction, you need an experienced car accident lawyer on your side. Attorney David Tapalian has decades of experience representing victims of all types of auto accidents throughout RI and MA. He understands how to effectively negotiate with the insurance companies to make sure you are offered a fair settlement to compensate you for your losses. Without legal representation, the insurance companies will try to settle your claim quickly by offering you the lowest amount of money possible. Don’t accept less than you deserve. Schedule your free consultation with Tapalian Law at our Providence, Warwick, or Seekonk offices, or call us at 401-552-5000.

Efforts to Avoid Wrong Way Collisions in RI

In an effort to thwart crashes caused by wrong way drivers in Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) completed a project in 2015 to increase the safety of roadways by improving the signage and markings surrounding exit and entrance ramps, including “Wrong Way” and “Do Not Enter” signs on highway ramps. In addition, new detection systems were added to high-risk localities, particularly in the Providence metropolitan area, to alert a driver who has entered a highway ramp in the opposite direction, by using a system of flashing lights. The detection system also notifies police and other drivers on the road to warn of a potentially dangerous wrong-way driver situation. The state’s plan was based on a similar project in San Antonio, Texas, which experienced a 30% reduction in wrong way crashes in its first year.

Causes of Wrong Way Accidents

A number of factors can contribute to a motorist driving in the wrong direction, but it’s known that drunk driving contributes to a great portion of these crashes. After any kind of incident caused by a negligent driver, contact a Rhode Island car accident attorney to protect your legal rights.

  • Driver Error. Wrong-way incidents are frequently caused by driver error, such as when someone unknowingly enters through an exit ramp onto the highway. However, they can occur on any street, even a low-speed side road. If a driver is not familiar with the area and the roads on which they are traveling, they are at an increased risk for making a wrong turn into incoming traffic. For example, on the East Side of Providence, some inexperienced drivers don’t realize that Waterman Street is a one-way street and attempt to enter the adjacent Whole Foods Market by entering the wrong way, potentially creating a disastrous wrong way crash.

    A motorist can also cause a wrong way accident if they are distracted, perhaps using a cell phone, and do not pay attention to a merge, highway entrance, or one-way street. In addition, older drivers are at an increased risk for driving in the wrong direction. With a higher likelihood of impaired vision, the elderly population may have trouble seeing signs signaling the wrong direction or the cars ahead of them. Medical issues can also cause a driver to end up on the wrong side of the road, such as a diabetic emergency where a person’s blood sugar is unbalanced, resulting in a decreased ability to focus on the task of operating a vehicle. Brain disorders like dementia can cause impaired thinking that affects decision making, like choosing the proper lane.
  • Reckless Behavior. The majority of wrong way accidents are the result of a reckless driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Motorists who are overtired, such as long-haul truck drivers, may not possess the reaction time to adjust their vehicle if it veers into the opposing lane. Additionally, unlicensed drivers may not understand the traffic rules of the road, putting themselves and others at risk due to their negligence. A RI lawyer can assist you in filing a personal injury claim if you’ve been hurt by a reckless driver.
  • Design of the Road. The physical construction of a street or road can increase the chances of drivers travelling in the wrong direction. Certain intersections require drivers to make wide turns to avoid the risk of accidently getting stuck in the opposite lane than desired. If a road does not have adequate signage to direct motorists where to turn and which way to travel, then a wrong way accident may occur more easily. The same is true when signs are unable to be read due to covering by trees or other plants, as well as on dark roads with no lighting present. Detours also can increase the amount of wrong way accidents, especially if the signs signifying the proper lanes to use are confusing.
  • Equipment Malfunctions. A car can break down and certain equipment may stop working and cause the vehicle to veer off to the wrong side of the road. For instance, a tire can blow or the steering system may glitch, causing the driver to lose control of their vehicle. A GPS or other navigational device sometimes gives outdated instructions, telling a motorist to drive the wrong way into a potentially dangerous situation.
Potential Injuries

A Rhode Island wrong way accident can result in a wide range of injuries. Victims may suffer from organ damage, brain injuries, or broken bones. Many of these injuries require extensive treatment, surgeries, and rehabilitation. In addition to the seriousness of these injuries in relation to one’s health and wellbeing, medical treatment is costly.

Paralysis is a significant potential outcome of these dangerous crashes, as is death. If a loved one died due to a wrong way accident in Rhode Island, contact a car accident lawyer at Tapalian Law to determine if you are eligible to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of your family member. Our dedicated personal injury team is experienced with navigating the complex legal system to ensure you receive proper compensation for your pain and suffering.

Contact Tapalian Law in Providence for a Free Consultation

If you’ve been hurt in a wrong way crash in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, or Florida, call Attorney David Tapalian. You may be eligible for compensation for your hospital bills, medical expenses, lost wages, surgery, and pain and suffering. We offer a complimentary review of your claim at our offices in Providence, Seekonk, and Warwick, or if you are hospitalized due to your injuries, we will visit you at home or in the hospital to discuss your case. RI law dictates a deadline for filing a personal injury claim, so it’s critical to seek help from a qualified injury attorney as soon as possible following your accident. Call Tapalian Law at 401-552-5000 or reach us with our online contact form.

Client Reviews
He took care of everything and kept me updated as well. It was such a smooth process and in the end I won my case. I would highly recommend David Tapalian! Patrice F.
When I contacted David Tapalian, Attorney & Counselor at Law, all my worries were immediately alleviated. He handled my case from beginning to end and kept me updated every step of the way. Susie M.
I visited David a couple of days after my accident and he gave me clear and concise details on what would happen throughout the process... David N.