A head-on collision is a type of car accident that occurs when the front end of one vehicle collides with the front end of another vehicle. These collisions can happen when one driver is going the wrong way on a one-way street or highway or when one driver loses control of their vehicle and veers into oncoming traffic.
Head-on collisions are particularly dangerous because the impact force concentrates in a small area directly at the occupants inside the vehicles. This can cause severe or potentially fatal injuries, depending on the speeds at which the vehicles are traveling and other factors.
Here, we’ll discuss how these collisions occur and why you need a car accident attorney after a head-on crash in California.
Why You Need a Lawyer After a Head-On Collision?
A head-on collision can have devastating consequences. The physical injuries caused by a head-on collision can be severe and long-lasting and often require extensive (and costly) medical treatment and rehabilitation. In some cases, your injuries may be permanent and disabling, affecting your ability to work and participate in normal daily activities.
Additionally, the emotional and psychological toll of a head-on collision can be significant. You might experience depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.
You might also experience financial stress and strain after a head-on collision. You might be dealing with medical expenses and car repair or replacement costs and might not have the means to pay for these unexpected expenses out of pocket.
On top of this, the other party’s insurance might not be willing to pay the compensation you need and deserve.
Contact an experienced lawyer immediately after a head-on crash so they can:
- Investigate the head-on collision cause for contributing factors
- Secure evidence before someone loses it, cleans it up, or destroys it
- Calculate your current and future losses related to the crash and the impact it will have on your life
- File a claim against the at-fault party’s insurance company and negotiating a fair settlement
- File a lawsuit and seeking compensation in court, if necessary
Focus on your recovery while your attorney works on your case. You can get the medical treatment you need and ensure your injuries heal properly. Doing so could help to strengthen your case since it shows that you are taking the necessary steps to get back on your feet.
Head-On Collision Statistics
National and state statistics on head-on collisions demonstrate how dangerous and deadly they can be to the victims involved. Here are some of the more staggering figures on frontal crashes:
- According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, head-on collisions accounted for 58 percent of total passenger vehicle fatalities in one recent year
- According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,631 fatal and 56,013 injury head-on collisions occurred in one recent year, resulting in 17,967 deaths and over 1.2 million injuries
- According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), 27 percent of all roadway departure fatalities identified a head-on collision as the most harmful event. Of those fatalities, 85 percent occurred on undivided highways, 70 percent occurred on roads with posted speeds greater than or equal to 50 miles per hour, and 35 percent occurred in rural areas
California Head-On Collision Statistics
- California Highway Patrol (CHP) data shows that fatal head-on collisions involved 788 drivers, of which 445 were proceeding straight and 162 were crossing into the opposite traffic lane just before the collision occurred. Injury head-on collisions involved 21,829 drivers, of which 11,494 were heading straight, and 5,397 were making a left turn just before the collision occurred
- According to CHP data, head-on collisions killed 466 people and injured 20,050. Of those injured, 749 suffered severe injuries
Why Do Head-On Collisions Occur?
If all drivers followed the rules of the road and acted with the utmost care whenever behind the wheel, head-on collisions might rarely occur. Unfortunately, too many drivers commit minor errors or omissions that increase the risk of head-on collisions. Common causes of head-on collisions are as follows.
Many drivers today cannot put their phones down even while driving, resulting in 3,142 deaths, according to NHTSA. In the mere seconds it takes to send a text message, a vehicle traveling 55 miles per hour can drive the length of a football field. That provides ample time and space for a driver to veer into oncoming traffic and cause a head-on collision.
Disobeying Traffic Lights or Signs
Drivers owe a duty of care to one another on roadways, and part of that duty is to obey traffic lights and signs. When a driver runs a red light or fails to stop at a stop sign, they drastically increase the risk of causing a head-on collision with another vehicle.
According to FHWA, weather-related crashes account for 21 percent of annual vehicle crashes. Most weather-related crashes occur on wet pavement (70 percent) or during rainfall (46 percent). Fewer crashes occur due to wintery weather, such as during snow or sleet (18 percent), on snowy or slushy pavement (16 percent), or icy pavement (13 percent). While the weather can be partially to blame, drivers are responsible for adjusting to the conditions, such as decreasing speed or turning on headlights.
Drunk or Drugged Driving
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drunk drivers kill 32 people daily in this country. In a study of traffic crash injuries at seven trauma centers, 22 percent of injured drivers tested positive for alcohol, 25 percent for marijuana, nine percent for opioids, ten percent for stimulants, and 8 percent for sedatives.
According to NHTSA, speeding contributed to 29 percent of all traffic fatalities. When a driver speeds, they limit their ability to react to and avoid an oncoming car, increasing the risk of a head-on collision. Speeding around curves can also cause drivers to overcorrect and collide with vehicles driving in the opposite lane.
Drivers who act recklessly put themselves and others in danger of head-on collisions. For example, a driver who passes in a no-passing zone, recklessly flouting the rules of the road, increases their risk of facing another car head-on with little ability to avoid a collision. Other examples of reckless driving that increase the risk of head-on collisions include street racing, cutting off other drivers, and turning abruptly without proper signaling.
According to the NHTSA, 91,000 police-reported crashes involved drowsy drivers in one recent year, injuring an estimated 50,000 people and killing 800. Dozing off, even for a second, could cause a driver to veer into oncoming traffic and collide head-on with vehicles in the opposite lane.
According to the NHTSA, vehicle-related causes contributed to two percent of accidents in a large causation study. Of those crashes, tire problems accounted for 35 percent, brake-related issues for 22 percent, and steering/suspension/transmission/engine-related problems for three percent. Brake or tire failures could cause a driver to lose control of their vehicle, swerving into the opposite lane and colliding head-on with another vehicle traveling in the opposite direction.
Who Is to Blame After a Head-On Collision?
If another driver caused a head-on collision and injured you, you likely want to know who is responsible. The following parties could be responsible for head-on collisions:
If another driver’s negligence directly caused the head-on collision, you could hold them accountable for your injuries and other losses. Examples of driver negligence include speeding, distracted driving, running a red light, or drunk driving.
In California, multiple drivers may share fault for an accident. Suppose a distracted driver did not see a pedestrian crossing the road and had to slam on their brakes to avoid hitting them. A second driver behind them who was speeding had to veer into the opposite lane to avoid a rear-end collision with the distracted driver. The second speeding driver collides head-on with a third driver in the opposite lane. If the third driver suffers an injury, they could pursue both the distracted driver and the speeding driver for compensation.
A Driver’s Employer
Suppose the at-fault driver acted in a work capacity when they caused a head-on collision. In that case, the victim could pursue their employer for compensation under the principle of vicarious liability. Consider an example of a delivery truck driver distracted by determining the location of their next delivery. If they swerve into oncoming traffic and cause a head-on collision, the victim could pursue their employer for compensation.
A Vehicle Manufacturer
If a vehicle malfunction or defect causes a head-on collision accident, the victim could hold the vehicle manufacturer responsible through an auto products liability case.
If a traffic light malfunction or road defect causes a head-on collision, an accident victim could hold the government agency responsible for that road maintenance responsible for their injuries. These cases follow a different process and timeline, so it is important to work with an attorney with experience pursuing government agencies for damages.
How Do I File a Head-On Collision Claim?
Getting started with a head-on collision claim may seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. If you first hire the right lawyer, you will save time, energy, and frustration. A lawyer can help you from start to finish, including the following steps:
Typically, your first step will be to gather evidence. Evidence is essential to prove negligence by the at-fault party. Some evidence is easy to come by, but other records might be challenging to access. An attorney can help you gather critical documents such as the police officer’s crash report and phone records.
Calculating Your Losses
After an accident, you often incur significant medical bills and miss paychecks while recovering. These losses are easy to quantify. However, other losses, such as the extent of your pain and suffering, are harder to calculate. An experienced head-on collision attorney can help you determine and document the full extent of your losses, including those less tangible non-economic losses.
Filing an Injury Claim
Your attorney can file your injury claim with the at-fault driver’s insurer, saving you from the hassle of dealing with aggressive, unsympathetic insurance agents. Once your attorney files the claim, they can negotiate with the insurer to seek a fair settlement that accounts for your current and future losses.
If the insurance company returns with a lowball settlement offer or refuses to negotiate in good faith, your lawyer might recommend filing a personal injury lawsuit to seek damages in court.
Filing a Lawsuit Before the Statute of Limitations Expires
Under California law, accident victims have two years to file a personal injury lawsuit against a negligent driver. That means you must act quickly to pursue compensation through a head-on collision claim and protect your right to file a lawsuit if necessary.
If you wait too long, the insurance company will have little incentive to adequately compensate you when they know your window of opportunity to file a lawsuit is rapidly closing. If the responsible entity is a government agency, California law states you only have six months to file suit.
Compensation for Head-On Collision Victims
With your attorney’s help, you might be able to recover compensation for the following head-on collision losses:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Lost wages and benefits
- Loss of future earning capacity due to long-term disability
- Property losses, such as car repairs or replacement
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
- Loss of society and companionship
- Loss of consortium
The amount of compensation you could recover after a head-on collision is difficult to estimate without knowing the exact details of your situation. However, you might find it helpful to consider California’s required minimum liability insurance coverage, which is $15,000 for injury/death to one person, $30,000 for injury/death to more than one person, and $5,000 for property damage.
Contact a Head-On Collision Lawyer
If you suffered an injury in a head-on collision, you should save yourself the headache and heartache of managing a legal case by yourself. You do not have to shoulder that burden alone.
Contact a head-on collision lawyer as soon as possible. Hiring an attorney to protect your rights and interests could significantly improve your chances of recovering maximum compensation and a full recovery.
Most car accident attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means they only get paid if you win. Focus on hiring the right attorney for your case, then leave the hard work to your Bakersfield personal injury law firm.