The morning of March 15 saw lane closures on Loop 1604, as a man in his 30s was killed when he ran his car into a concrete barrier, going the wrong way. While no information has been released, as of this writing, that sheds light on the driver’s personal information or reason for the crash, it is worth noting that wrong-way accidents are common in San Antonio, and can strike when one least expects.
A Lack of Research
Despite the amount of wrong-way accidents that occur, research done by the Texas Transportation Institute shows a surprising lack of research and data on the matter. The most recent comprehensive investigation of these trends dates back to 2004, and while the data is still illuminating, it must be taken with a proverbial grain of salt. Still, certain patterns can be identified, including the most common origin of wrong-way collisions (freeway ramps, most notably those which are not well labeled), and the frequency of substance abuse (between 50 and 75 percent of drivers involved had been either drinking or using illicit substances).
A number of changes were recommended in this report, including repairing certain specific patches of pavement and maintaining signage, especially in urban areas, but not much data currently exists as to whether these recommendations were actually implemented. The number of wrong-way collisions specifically is not tracked – the number of head-on collisions is monitored by the Texas Department of Transportation, but not every wrong-way collision is head on. Thus it is necessary to extrapolate from figures that are somewhat incomplete.
If you are injured by a wrong-way driver, there are several options that can be taken in terms of bringing suit to seek compensation for medical bills. The other driver is perhaps the most obvious person to sue, and many of these suits are brought under a personal injury theory of law, rooted in negligence. Negligence is a common-law construction that states a plaintiff must demonstrate several factors: that they suffered tangible injury, that the injury occurred directly because of the defendant’s conduct, and that that conduct breached the inherent duty of care owed by one person (a motorist) to another (other motorists).
In addition to the driver, however, there is another potential defendant in some cases: the entity or municipality responsible for maintaining the road in question. If, for example, a “wrong way” sign was not clearly marked or had fallen into disrepair, it might be possible to sue the road maintenance company, or the government employing them, for negligence. While most governments have the option of claiming sovereign immunity (a doctrine rooted in common law which prevents the government from being sued), Texas has a law called the Texas Tort Claims Act that waives sovereign immunity for specific causes of action, with negligence in auto accidents potentially being one of them. Consulting an attorney to see if your case might meet this definition can be a good idea.
Ask an Experienced Attorney
Being injured for any reason can be terrifying, but being in an accident when you have, in theory, done nothing dangerous or reckless can cause even worse panic and pain. Our passionate New Braunfels collision attorneys at the Bettersworth Law Firm can work with you to help decide how best to proceed with a potential case.