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What To Do After a Crash on a Rural Road in Pennsylvania

rural stretch of roadDid you know the risk of dying in a car accident is 62 percent higher when the incident happens on a rural road?

This finding is from a study by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association and is based on national data. However, state-by-state data may not be that much better. In 2023, there were 33,356 rural road crashes in Pennsylvania that resulted in 607 deaths, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT).

In this blog post, we discuss the dangers of rural roads, how drivers can lower their risk of a collision, and legal options if you are involved in a crash. If you suffer injuries in a car crash on a rural road or anywhere else, we may be able to help you seek compensation. Our Harrisburg-based car accident lawyers have obtained millions for victims of auto accidents.

Contact Schmidt Kramer to schedule a FREE initial case evaluation. (717) 727-2550.

Why Are Rural Roads Dangerous?

Although less than 20 percent of the entire U.S. population lives in rural areas, more than 45 percent of all deadly car crashes occur on these roadways.

While highways and roads in urban areas usually have streetlights, railings and divided lanes, many urban roads do not. When you combine these shortcomings with other factors, there is a higher risk of a collision that could cause serious or even fatal injuries:

  • Higher speed limits: Rural roads have fewer traffic lights and higher speed limits than the roads in more heavily populated are. The faster you drive, the more likely you are to crash and suffer serious injuries. You should also know that drivers are more likely to exceed the higher speed limits on rural roads, putting everyone else at risk.
  • Road design and conditions: Two-lane roads, narrow lanes, sharp curves, poor or low lighting, potholes, uneven lanes and limited shoulders make driving on rural roads more difficult. These limitations increase your chances of a car crash, especially during bad weather.
  • Impaired driving: You are less likely to see the police patrolling a rural area. Reckless drivers know this, so they may be more likely to drink and drive because they think they will not get caught.
  • Wildlife: You are at much greater risk of hitting a wild animal on a rural road, especially at night.

Liability for a Collision on a Rural Road

Pennsylvania is a no-fault state, so you can seek compensation for your medical expenses from your own insurance policy, regardless of fault. However, fault can still be an issue during the legal process.

The question is: who could be liable for a crash on a rural road?

Each case is unique, so there are many factors that must be considered. However, the liable driver is the one who breached a duty of care, such as the duty to:

  • Obey the speed limit
  • Not follow another car too closely
  • Slow down to account for road or weather conditions
  • Drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Make an unsafe lane change
  • Pass on a two-lane road when it is unsafe to do so
  • Fail to stop at a stop sign or red light

These actions can result in many kinds of serious accidents, such as:

  • Head-on collisions when passing on a two-lane road
  • Rear-end collisions caused by following too closely
  • Side-impact crashes caused by running a stop sign
  • Sideswipe collisions during merging or lane changes

It can be difficult to determine fault on your own, and you should not rely on the insurance company’s evaluation of the crash. They are just looking to pin the blame on you and avoid paying out compensation.

You should seriously consider calling an experienced lawyer, such as an attorney from Schmidt Kramer. We know how to quickly preserve evidence, evaluate your damages and negotiate for fair compensation. We also have significant experience in the courtroom and are prepared to go that route when necessary. We want you to have the compensation needed to move forward after an unexpected accident.

What Drivers Can Do To Lower the Risk of a Rural Road Crash

Driving on rural roads is sometimes unavoidable. However, there are some safety measures you can take:

Wear a Seatbelt

Crash victims who did not buckle up before the collision are more likely to suffer severe injuries. In fact, your risk of fatal injury goes up when you do not wear your seat belt. Be sure to buckle up, even for a quick trip down the street.

Do Not Speed

Speeding increases your risk of a car crash and getting seriously hurt or killed. Obey the speed limits posted on rural roads, slow down in bad weather and when approaching poor road conditions, narrow lanes, sharp turns and uneven surfaces.

Use Caution

You may come across obstacles, such as wildlife, and slower-moving vehicles, such as tractors and farm trucks. Give yourself time to slow down or stop, and do not follow behind slow vehicles too closely.

Pass Carefully

If you need to pass on a two-lane road (each lane is going in the opposite direction), only do so if you have enough time and space.

Use Lights and Signals

Use your headlights when the weather reduces your visibility, as this will give you a better chance of seeing hazards ahead and adjusting for them. Use your turn signal to show other drivers your intentions.

Drive Defensively

Practice anticipating the actions of other drivers. Scan the road ahead for potential danger and be prepared to react quickly to any unexpected situation.

What To Do After a Rural Road Crash

Medical care is your top priority after any collision, whether it happens on a rural road or in a more populated area. It may take the police and other first responders longer to arrive at a rural road crash scene, so do not delay in calling 9-1-1 for assistance.

Some injuries will not be obvious right after the car crash, sometimes not showing up for days or weeks. Delaying medical treatment could make things worse. So, even if you feel fine, after the crash, go see a doctor for an evaluation.

Immediately after the collision, make sure to turn on your hazard lights, so passing drivers can see you. When possible, move your car off the road and away from traffic. Drivers may have a hard time seeing you and they may be speeding.

While you may want to get out of your car to assess the damage and exchange information with the other driver, be cautious. You do not want to put yourself in harm’s way, and you cannot trust passing drivers to move over or slow down. You do not want to get clipped by a passing car, which could result in catastrophic injuries.

If it is safe, or you can do so from a distance, take pictures of the car crash scene including pictures of both vehicles, visible injuries, road conditions, road signs and anything else you think may be relevant. Pictures like these can help your lawyer to establish fault and link your injuries to the crash.

When the police arrive, report what you remember. The police report can help your lawyer to establish what happened in the crash, especially liability.

Were You Injured by a Negligent Driver? Contact Schmidt Kramer

If you were a victim of a car crash on a rural road in the Harrisburg area, or elsewhere in the state, Schmidt Kramer is here to help you. We have many years of experience helping victims of car crashes secure compensation.

Our lawyers do not charge any upfront costs. Your initial legal consultation is also provided free of charge.

Have legal questions following a crash? Contact us today: (717) 727-2550.