Head-on collisions are the most dangerous car accidents in the country today. These accidents often result in deaths and severe injuries. The severity of these accidents makes hiring the skills of an expert personal injury attorney a necessity. At San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm, we have years of experience handling head-on collision cases. We understand the severity of this type of accident. This is why we aggressively represent anyone who requires our help.
Everything You Need to Know About Head-on Collision Accidents
Head-on collision accidents occur when vehicles heading in different directions crash from front bumper to front bumper. Any type of car accident can still cause injuries; however, statistics do show that head-on collision accidents result in serious fatalities or harm to the passengers or drivers in either vehicle. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the fatality rate of vehicle occupants in head-on collisions was 58% in 2017.
Head-on collisions are more likely to occur in rural areas, as 13% of the accidents that occur in most rural areas are head-ons. While, in urban areas, at least 7% of fatal accidents occur from head-ons.
Common Causes of a Head-on Collision
Sometimes an accident is just that, an accident. However, there are several instances when a head-on collision occurs because of other reasons. The common causes of such accidents include:
Driver Distraction: One of the most common causes of head-on crashes is driver distraction. With all the technology we have today, it is quite easy for anyone to get distracted easily. It’s easy for some drivers to become distracted while driving by doing things like reading emails or talking on their phones while driving.
Other drivers get distracted eating while they drive or when paying attention to their children. Whatever the distraction, drivers end up losing their focus and crashing into other road users.
Severe Weather Conditions: Some head-on crashes occur due to severe weather conditions that affect the road’s visibility. Extreme weather like heavy rainfall or dense fog can dramatically reduce a driver’s visibility while on the road. When a driver fails to slow down in such severe weather conditions, he or she is risking their life and the lives of other road users as well.
Inexperienced Driving: Drivers who lack experience behind the wheel may also not know the rules of the road. This is why the law requires every driver to own a driver’s license, as this is always an indication that you understand the rules of the road. Inexperienced drivers, especially teenage drivers, often cause car accidents because they don’t know how to resolve the problems they cause when driving. This eventually causes them to try and escape, and it ends up making things worse.
Driving while intoxicated: When any individual drives while under the influence, their judgment is impaired. A drunk driver can quickly become distracted, and this can cause them to lose control of the car and eventually drift into oncoming traffic, causing a head-on crash. This is why drunk driving is an offense.
Drunk drivers are often disoriented, and they end up not making good choices while on the road. For instance, a person may leave the nightclub after having so many drinks and be so tired that he/she blindly drives down the wrong lane, resulting in a head-on crash with another vehicle.
Driving While Tired: Long-distance drivers, especially truck drivers, often push themselves beyond their limit by driving while they are tired. Such types of drivers put everyone, including themselves, at risk as his reaction time and decision-making are slowed because of tiredness and exhaustion.
Most of the head-on collision accidents that occur happen when drivers fall asleep behind the wheel. This is why it’s crucial for drivers traveling long distances to periodically stop their vehicles, get out from behind the steering wheel, drink coffee, rest, and recharge before proceeding.
Speeding: The faster a car travels, the more damage it will experience when an accident occurs. Most speeding drivers operating their vehicles in an unsafe manner, and end up putting them and other road users at high risk of injuries and sometimes death.
A speeding driver can easily miss road signs that temporarily redirect traffic due to road resurfacing or construction. Such mistakes can cause unfortunate accidents like a head-on collision where victims are injured or sometimes killed.
Altered Traffic Patterns and Construction: Construction zones can be dangerous areas, especially if drivers don’t obey the set-up construction signs. A distracted or impatient driver can easily cause head-on collisions in construction zones if he/she is not paying close attention to the impending detours.
Drivers who speed through altered traffic patterns and construction zones risk causing accidents as they end up not seeing or heeding the traffic directors or cautionary signs. Drivers who fail to obey the construction signs and altered traffic patterns on city streets could end up causing catastrophic head-on crashes if they were traveling in the same direction as on-coming traffic.
Aggressive Driving: Aggressive driving goes far beyond what people recognize as road rage. It includes weaving in and out of traffic, tailgating, changing lanes, cutting other drivers off, or turning at the last minute. Such behavior is unpredictable, and an aggressive driver can easily cause an accident, including a head-on collision.
Failure to Obey Traffic Signals and Signs: When a driver ignores a red light, fails to yield, or blows through a stop sign, he/she is endangering their life and that of other road users. A negligent driver can easily collide into other vehicles, hit a pedestrian, or collide head-on with other oncoming cars.
Common Injuries Sustained by Head-on Collision Victims
Generally, the faster the cars are traveling before a head-on crash occurs, the worse the injuries the victims will have. Studies have shown that the impact of two vehicles colliding with each other while traveling at 50 miles per hour is equivalent to a car traveling at 100 miles per hour and striking a stationary object.
Some of the common injuries you can expect from head-on collision accidents include burns, broken bones, internal injuries, head injuries, spinal cord injuries, and contusions. Sadly, most victims end up suffering severe injuries that require expensive and extensive medical treatment and care and sometimes long-term rehabilitation. Some of the worst injuries may require surgical intervention to help repair the damage done to internal organs and bones.
What Do You Do After a Head-on Collision Occurs?
If you are involved in a head-on crash accident, there are several things you should do to protect yourself and your interests. These things include:
- Never drive away from the accident scene, even if the accident is a minor one.
- Protect the accident scene
You can prevent any more accidents by keeping your flashers on or setting up flares. If it’s dark and your lights are not working, try using a flashlight to help you stay safe as you wait for help to come. If you or your loved one is severely injured, call for help immediately, this will help save your life or that of your loved one.
- Call the Police
Even if you had no serious injuries from the head-on crash, it is always an excellent idea to call the police. You may require a police report to file an insurance claim. Even if it's just making a claim for damages to your vehicle, an insurance claim is necessary. The vehicles involved in the accident should also remain intact unless they are interfering with traffic.
- Give an Accurate Record
When the police arrive at the scene of the accident, make sure you tell the police officers exactly what happened without leaving out any facts. If you are not sure about specific facts, also mention that to the police officer. Do not misstate, speculate, or guess any of the facts that led to the accident. If you are asked if you have injuries and are not sure, say you aren’t sure rather than saying no.
Often the injuries and pain from car accidents become apparent hours after the head-on collision occurs. Also, make sure that the statements other individuals make about the accident are accurate. This ensures that there are no contradictory statements that can prevent you from filing a compensation claim.
- Take Pictures
If you happen to have a cell phone equipped with a camera or a camera in your car, you should take pictures of the vehicles. Head-on collision accidents come with visible damage. If you also have visible injuries, you should also take photos of them. However, make sure you don’t interfere with the on-going investigation.
If you are in no position to take pictures at the scene of the accident, have someone help you take them as soon as possible after the accident.
- Exchange Information
Typically, in every accident, the investigating officer obtains all the respective party's information. However, if the police happen to not respond to the car accident, make sure you obtain the name, telephone number, and address of all individuals involved in the head-on crash— passengers and drivers alike.
You should also obtain their insurance information by asking to see the insurance card for every vehicle involved in the crash. If there are any witnesses, ensure you get the necessary information from them as well. The information you obtain will allow your attorney to contact them in the future.
If the police respond to the accident, they usually provide all the drivers with a report number. You can use the number they give you to obtain the entire police report. If the accident happens on a state highway, make sure you request the police report from the state police.
- Report The Accident
The next step is notifying your insurer immediately. Many insurance policies require full cooperation and reporting. Find out if your insurance covers your medical treatment. Some insurance covers need you to pay some extra money for medical treatment, but they still chip in paying some expenses.
- Seek Medical Attention
Often, injuries caused by some head-on crashes are not immediately apparent. Most accident victims with minor injuries often report feeling pain after a day or two after the accident. If you are not entirely sure you have no injuries, it is essential to seek medical attention by seeing your family doctor or at your local ER.
A delay in seeking medical care may lead to permanent and severe damages. For instance, an injury that might appear minor to the head may lead to permanent brain damage. If you dazed off after the accident, you may be having a concussion or internal brain injury. This can lead to cognitive and behavioral changes if you are not treated.
- Keep A File
Keep all your accident-related information and documents together. This information should include the claim number, phone numbers, and names of all contacts, the claim’s adjuster, receipts for other expenses incurred because of the accident.
- Protect Your Rights
The last most important thing to do is protect your rights by consulting your attorney. Your personal injury attorney can make sure the acquired evidence is not destroyed. They also make sure your rights are protected throughout the entire process.
How Do I Determine Fault in a Head-on Collision?
This is always the first question your insurance company will want an answer to. The impact of a head-on collision often sends each car in different directions, meaning that it can be hard to determine how the crash occurred. Your personal injury lawyer can help determine how the collision happened by retaining the services of an accident reconstruction specialist or engineer.
This specialist determines the cause of the collision and which driver was at fault. If you lost a loved one or were injured in a collision, the at-fault driver’s insurance company has to pay your claim. However, the first step to acquiring a compensation claim is establishing that the other driver was at fault. Apart from hiring a personal injury lawyer, here’s what to look for when determining fault.
Duty of care: Every driver is legally obligated to avoid harming other road users. That includes paying attention while driving, being sober, alert, and rested. If a driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, that driver isn’t exercising the duty of care.
Negligence: A driver becomes negligent if their conduct was outside what is expected of a reasonable person. This might be entering a highway, driving the wrong way, driving with speed, or entering a highway using the wrong direction.
Cause: This element is relatively straightforward in a head-on crash. For an injury claim, the plaintiff must prove beyond doubt that the other driver’s actions caused the injuries you have sustained. For instance, you wouldn’t have gotten a head injury but because the driver swerved into your lane and caused the collision.
Benefits of Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer
The benefits of hiring a personal injury attorney include:
- They know your worth
Most accident victims don’t know just how much money they can acquire from the claims they file. Although there are tools like a personal injury settlement calculator that lawyers use, it can still help you get a rough idea of the worth of your claim. Getting a high insurance settlement is more than merely stating or putting numbers in a calculator.
It requires a person with an understanding of the subtleties of your injury case. This includes putting value to your suffering, analyzing your injuries, negotiating your accident settlement, and understanding how insurance companies work. Pursuing your insurance claim yourself will only be difficult as you fail to assess the worth of your injuries.
Hiring a personal injury lawyer allows you to leverage their experiences and tools to attain insurance compensation that is worth your pain and suffering.
- They understand the Legal Process
Even if you have a rough idea of what your settlement might be worth, you may, however, be unfamiliar with the legal process involved with mediating and litigating your compensation. This includes not knowing how to complete the forms correctly, which legal documents to file, and the statutes of limitation that apply to your job.
The gap in legal knowledge may enable insurance companies to beat you in any legal technicalities. There is nothing worse, like knowing you missed out on a considerable amount of cash from your claim because of not following some legal process.
- They Help Improve Your Odds
Going against any insurance company is like fighting against Goliath. Undertaking such a battle yourself is equivalent to fighting with no weapons. No matter how well you prepare yourself, you won’t be able to put your best foot forward when it comes to defending yourself. Insurance companies know that they have far more bargaining power and knowledge.
They will use this to ensure that the settlement they offer is quite low compared to what you deserve. Insurance companies will utilize your unfamiliarity with the settlement process to make sure their interests are protected. Hiring a skilled personal injury attorney ensures that you increase your odds of acquiring a better settlement.
- They Can Help Take Your Case to Trial
Most head-on crash injury cases never proceed to trial. Most of these cases are often settled outside the courtroom, as there is always a higher likelihood that insurance companies may lose the trial. Having a personal injury attorney ensures that you have someone willing to fight for you all the way. They can even take your case trial if the settlement offer is lower than you deserve.
- They are Motivated to Help
Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis. This means that they get paid if you receive an insurance settlement. This aspect of payment is quite beneficial, as your lawyer will be motivated to help you acquire the highest claim possible. Since your lawyer doesn’t get paid unless you receive your settlement, they will be more prone to settle the entire case as quickly as possible.
- Stress Reduction
Hiring a personal injury attorney helps you acquire help to deal with insurance companies. This, in turn, helps reduce stress.
- Ability to Negotiate
An experienced attorney knows how to negotiate. They know how and when to put pressure on insurance companies to ensure that their clients receive a settlement claim that fits their worth. They also know when to take the case to trial and when to agree to the terms of the insurance company. This is something an ability a layperson doesn’t have.
- Accident Reconstruction
Finding out who is at fault when a head-on collision occurs is a necessary part of filing for a compensation claim. However, because of the force of the crash, this can be hard to determine, especially if multiple vehicles were involved. Hiring a personal injury attorney can help you determine who is at fault. An experienced attorney will hire an expert to reconstruct the accident. This will then help determine who is responsible for the accident.
- Property Damage
Apart from personal injuries, head-on collision accidents also destroy property. Property damage is also an issue that arises in personal injury cases. Your lawyer can help you acquire a reimbursement. They can arrange direct billing on the rental car you are using, or help you obtain complete compensation for all your rental expenses.
Sometimes head-on collision accident cases are more complicated than they appear. Your injuries may end up becoming worse over time. It can also become difficult to track down evidence to connect to the accident. Hiring a personal injury lawyer ensures you have an experienced individual to help you handle your case. They have the expertise you need to win your claim. They also understand what goes into successfully settling your case. They can also spot twists and turns from miles away and deal with them accordingly. This, in turn, ensures that your winning chances are higher compared to handling your case alone.
Find a Personal Injury Law Firm Near Me
At San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm, we understand the pain and struggles accident victims go through. We are ready to help you acquire compensation. You can call us at 619-478-4059. We are always prepared to help.