Four people were killed on the spot following a horrific wrong-way crash on the 71 Freeway near Chino Hills. According to the police, an as-yet unidentified driver was driving a white 2021 Volvo S60 going northbound on the southbound 71 Freeway lanes. The white Volvo crashed into a black 2018 Volvo. Both vehicles spun out and made contact with other cars nearby. The four occupants in the two Volvos were pronounced dead at the scene, while the other drivers involved in the accident escaped with only minor injuries.
How do wrong-way accidents happen?
For most drivers, driving on the wrong side of the road is unthinkable. In most cases, such accidents occur when a driver is somehow impaired and doesn’t realize they’re driving the wrong way. If you’re ever involved in such a crash, you must speak with an experienced California accident lawyer as soon as possible as in certain situations you may lose the right to sue the other driver and recover damages.
Let’s have a look at the most common causes of wrong-way crashes.
Driving while intoxicated
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a major cause of wrong-way accidents. Impaired drivers may be disoriented or confused, making it difficult for them to recognize signs and road markings indicating the correct direction of travel. Your lawyers will want to see the results of the drugs and alcohol tests as soon as possible to determine whether you may sue for punitive damages as well as compensatory damages.
Elderly drivers, particularly those with cognitive or visual impairments, may be more prone to wrong-way accidents. Your chances of recovering fair compensation depend on whether or not the elderly driver was allowed to drive or was aware their ailments made them more prone to accidents.
Drivers experiencing a medical emergency, such as a seizure or heart attack, may lose control of their vehicle and enter a roadway in the wrong direction. California is one of the states that recognizes the sudden medical emergency defense in car accident cases. Under the doctrine of imminent peril, a driver who suffered an unforeseen medical emergency at the time of the crash is not liable for damages.
When can a driver use the medical emergency defense?
A driver can escape liability if they suffer a sudden and unforeseen medical emergency. To use the imminent peril doctrine, the other driver and their legal team will have to prove that:
- the driver suddenly became physically incapacitated
- the incapacity wasn’t reasonably foreseeable
- the incapacity caused the driver to lose control of the vehicle.
Seizures or heart attacks are considered sudden medical emergencies. However, you’ll need a seasoned Los Angeles car accident lawyer by your side. Your lawyers will have to investigate the other driver’s medical history to see whether they knew their health issues made them prone to accidents. As an example, if a driver happens to have a seizure and it’s the first time they experience such an issue, they may be able to use the medical emergency defense. On the other hand, if the driver suffered from epilepsy and their doctor had advised them to stay off the road, the seizure was not an unforeseen event so the medical emergency defense cannot be used.
The same may be argued if a driver had a history of heart issues or if a driver with diabetes passes out behind the wheel after not eating the whole day.
Have you been injured in a crash in the Los Angeles area?
If you or a loved one were recently injured in a car accident in the Los Angeles area, contact the skilled attorneys at the Neumann Law Group. Our attorneys possess years of experience in personal injury and wrongful death cases. Through our dedicated representation of accident victims and their families, we will help you bring the at-fault driver to justice. To schedule a free initial consultation, call our toll-free number at 800-525-6386. To contact our California office, call 213-277-0001.