Six million miles of rural roads cover the United States. Although these rural roads do not see a lot of traffic, they account for over 50 percent of fatal car crashes. As lawyers that see these cases firsthand, we want to share some insights into the rural road risks, and how you can keep yourself and your loved ones safe.
Rural Road Accidents Involve Violent Collisions
People often perceive rural roads as safer than crowded city interstates, but this is not the case. Rather, blind curves, steep hills, and narrow passages are all causes of violent collisions. These accidents can happen in seconds. The following are examples of accidents that commonly take place on rural roads:
- Rollover crashes can be single or multiple car accidents. They involve several factors, such as the driver, road, and other vehicles, causing the vehicle to flip over.
- Crossover accidents occur when a vehicle veers over into the opposite direction of traffic. Rails and curbs prevent these accidents in high-traffic areas; however, on rural roads, there is nothing to stop a car from crossing over into the other lane and causing a collision.
- Head-on collisions are when the front ends of two vehicles collide coming from different directions. Being aware of traffic signs and eliminating distractions while driving can help prevent this type of crash.
- Side-impact or t-bone crashes occur when the front end of one vehicle collides with the side of another vehicle. These commonly occur in intersections, especially when drivers are not paying attention to traffic signs on rural roads.
Every type of car collision can be severe, causing injuries that range from minor to life-threatening.
With the rise of distracted driving, rural roads have become increasingly dangerous. Drivers talking on their phones, texting, or changing the radio station can look away from the road for seconds, ending in collisions with other vehicles.
Rural road collisions can also occur due to drunk driving, speeding, and weather conditions. Unfortunately, young drivers can find themselves in rural road accidents because of their lack of experience driving on unpaved and damaged roads, or ones without rails and shoulders. New drivers may not understand the gravity of rural road risks; consequently, it is important to educate them if they will be driving under these conditions.
Rural Road Accidents Cause Serious Injuries
Since rural road accidents usually involve violent collisions with other vehicles, passengers may become seriously injured, often requiring emergency medical attention. Ambulances, life flights, and hospitalizations are often needed to stabilize potential injuries for the passengers involved in these accidents.
- Head and brain injuries involve an intensive blow or jolt to the head, usually resulting in a concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI). Symptoms include confusion, blurry vision, and difficulties concentrating.
- Neck, back, and spinal injuries cause extreme back pain or pressure to the affected areas. Numbness, tingling, or loss of sensation are symptoms of neck, back, and spinal injuries. These injuries include whiplash, herniated discs, and spinal cord damage.
- Facial injuries occur on the mouth, face, or jaw, and include cuts, lacerations, broken teeth, broken bones, and burns.
- Fractures and dislocations are painful injuries that can occur in a collision. Fractures are breaks or cracks in the bone, while dislocations occur when two bones are pushed out of the joint. These commonly occur on the arms, legs, and ribs but can happen on other body parts, as well.
- Injuries requiring long hospitalization and surgical repair are often outcomes of serious collisions. These injuries may include internal bleeding or damage to vital organs.
Even minor injuries can cause medical treatment. However, as the severity of the injuries increases, so does the treatment and cost of care. Many injuries require hospitalization, rehabilitation, and extensive recovery time.
For example, a patient with a concussion, whiplash, and bone fracture must see a neurologist and orthopedic specialist. These physicians may recommend physical therapy and time off work to fully recover from these injuries. The medical costs in conjuncture with missing work can lead to significant financial strain for the patient. Not only do these individuals have to focus on recovering, but they also must deal with insurance companies, car repairs, and medical bills. Unfortunately, rural road accidents can cause much more severe injuries, and therefore, worse situations.
Contact your physician or go to the hospital if you or a loved one is experiencing any of the symptoms listed above.
Legal Recovery for Rural Road Accidents
Injury attorneys offer legal advice and representation to individuals involved in car accidents during the stressful insurance and legal processes. It is often a long, strenuous process to obtain a fair and full claim settlement. However, once a settlement is reached, it will cover:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Income loss reimbursement
- Pain, suffering, and long-term damages
- Compensation for physical limitations
- Loss of health damages, which covers all the costs associated with recovering
- Loss of quality of life damages
- Permanent impairment
At Horn Law, we are dedicated to helping our clients recover the largest settlements possible for car accidents of any type. If you or someone you know was in a serious rural road car collision, contact our team for a free consultation at 816-795-7500.
Horn Law at Work
Our client was traveling on a two-lane paved rural road in central Missouri when suddenly, and without warning, and another driver traveling through a curve, crossed the center portion of the road, and sideswiped her car. The impact caused our client to lose control of the car, but she was able to bring her car to a stop off the roadway without further impact. She suffered a sudden onset of multiple injuries and was rushed to a hospital when she was stabilized.
The police investigations confirmed the liability of the other driver. Shortly, after the investigation was completed, it was verified that the driver at fault was covered with auto insurance. The client was also insured, including under-insured motorist coverage.
After her initial recovery, our client continued to have severe lower back pain. After diagnostic testing, the victim was referred for physical rehabilitation to treat the lower back pain. After completing physical therapy, with little to no improvement, our client was referred to a physiatrist for a series of epidural steroid injections. After completing the steroid injections, again without significant relief of symptoms, she was referred to a neurosurgeon who recommended surgical repair of the L4-5 disc. After the surgical repair, the client was referred to post-surgical rehabilitation. Our client reached maximum medical improvement about 1 year after the collision.
During the time of her recovery, our client lost significant time from her part-time job, including an income loss of approximately $12,000. The client was very limited in her personal/household responsibilities and in her physical activity. After MMI, she exhibits a 25% permanent partial disability of her whole body.
In addition to the income loss, our client also incurred medical expenses. Although most of the medical expenses were covered by health insurance, because her health coverage was provided by her husbandâ€™s employer, the health insurance company had a reimbursement right of over $32,000 from any liability settlement she received.
Because of the nature of the collision and injuries, legal representation was deemed to be of substantial benefit to our client. Her total past economic damages were in excess of $50,000. Her future economic loss was supported by evidence of future medical expense, loss of earning capacity, and ongoing loss of household services. Medical experts were retained by counsel to testify on future rehabilitation/pain relief needs as well as economists to evaluate the loss earning capacity and value of loss of household services.
In addition to the economic damages, substantial evidence was obtained to support loss of health and loss of quality of life.
Based on the above, a pre-litigation settlement was reached with the adverse driver for policy limits. After a lawsuit filing, and protracted negotiations, including mediation, an additional settlement was reached on the claim made against our clientâ€™s under-insured motorists coverage.