No car accident is pleasant. All auto collisions are dangerous and can be fatal. However, head-on collisions are the worst of all. They occur when one motorist crosses a median or centerline into the lane with oncoming traffic. The crashes can also be caused by motorists who don’t observe traffic rules by speeding through traffic stops and red lights. Most victims in these crashes lose their lives, and those that are lucky to survive are left with severe bodily injuries. At Clay County Personal Injury Attorney, we understand how devastating the aftermath of such accidents can be to the victims and their families. As such, we will help you understand the common causes of head-on collisions, the common injuries in frontal collisions, and how to establish the driver at fault to help you secure compensation for the losses.
Common Causes of Head-on Collisions
Head-on crashes can occur anywhere, but the majority of them occur in rural roads or where there is no median or barrier between two lanes of a highway. There are many causes of front end accidents. However, most happen when a vehicle is negotiating a curve and in the process, crosses over the centerline dividing the two lanes of the road. Because of the high speeds of the two cars, crashes often result in car accident fatalities. It’s not easy to predict when and how head-on collisions will occur. However, a significant number of crashes are caused by the negligence or reckless behavior. Head-on crashes are often caused by:
When a driver is driving beyond the legal speed limit, the road and weather conditions like fog or mist might not allow him or her to control the vehicle. Losing control of the car can make it cross over to the lane with oncoming traffic, causing a head-on crash. Aggressive driving can also result in front end crashes.
Texting or talking on a mobile phone, grooming, or eating when behind the wheel makes drivers lose focus and attention on the road. They end up not seeing critical road signs like stop or no entry, thus leading to head-on crashes. Not paying attention to the way makes motorists drift into the oncoming traffic, causing fatal front-end collisions.
According to Florida crash statistics, in 2017, seventy-five wrong side accidents were fatal. More than half of those drivers who cause accidents driving in the wrong way are drunk or impaired. Drugs or alcohol causes both mental and physical impairment, which affects judgment and control of the car, respectively. Drunk drivers are, therefore, likely to drive on the wrong side or fail to observe the safety of other motorists, thus causing crashes.
Falling Asleep on the Road
Drivers are rational human beings, and at times, they are fatigued or sleepy. This is common among commercial vehicle drivers who spend a lot of time on the road. Sleep and fatigue cause drowsy driving, which can lead to driving on the wrong side or veering across the street.
Failing to Overtake and Pass another Car Safely
Several cases of head-on accidents are also caused by overtaking drivers. Overtaking is allowed, but it should be done carefully. Overtaking on a sharp corner or without being careful of the opposing traffic increases the risk of a head-on collision.
Other causes of front end crashes include:
- Poor vision by drivers at night
- A driver traveling in the incorrect direction
- Incorrect reading of road signs
- One car crossed the centerline of an undivided road
- Car defects
- Roadway debris and animals
Apart from the preceding causes of accidents, head-on collisions can also occur due to defective parts in a car. The parts might be faulty because of negligence by the mechanic who installed the components or the manufacturer. Negligence by government agencies responsible for road maintenance and safety makes them accountable for head-on crashes that occur on those highways. Other accidents happen when drivers are trying to avoid a pothole and end up crossing into the opposing traffic.
Neglect by drivers is the primary factor that contributes to accidents. Therefore, it’s essential to exercise caution while driving, although that will not entirely prevent collisions because of the high number of motorists who have no regard for the safety of other road users.
To reduce the risk of head-on collisions, Florida has created rumble strips and eliminated edge drops, but that is not enough because the ultimate responsibility lies with the drivers. If they all exercise the duty of care, then road accidents, more specifically front-end collisions, will reduce significantly.
Common Injuries Associated with Head-On Collisions
Head-on collisions cause catastrophic injuries if not death. The airbags and seatbelts are meant to protect you from the impact of a crash, but due to the combined speed of the two cars, the impact leaves victims broken bones, ribs, and traumatic injuries. Other injuries that can stem from this type of collision include:
Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)
Head injuries are the worst after a head-on collision. Traumatic brain injuries occur due to whiplash. Whiplash occurs when the brain slides inside the skull after sudden deceleration making contact with the skull. Depending on the force of the touch, the person is left with tears and wounds in the brain that can lead to mental illnesses. TBIs can also occur when the head hits the interior of the vehicle after the impact of the collision. Direct trauma can also lead to brain injuries. When someone is thrown into the road because of the impact of the crash, the debris can puncture or cause fractures on the skull resulting in traumatic brain injuries.
Internal Bleeding and Organ Damage
Head-on crashes can leave victims pinned in the vehicle or thrown out of the car. The impact they hit the road with leaves some of them with internal injuries and organ damage. If you are pinned in the vehicle, it becomes even worse because getting out of there takes hours, and in the process, pressure may be exerted on the organs resulting in damage to the organs. Also, when airbags deploy after a collision, they may leave one or two ribs broken. If the ribs poke into a body organ, it will cause internal bleeding and organ damage. Seeking medical attention after a head-on crash is therefore vital so that in case of internal bleeding and organ damage, you can be treated before it’s too late.
The impact of two speeding cars leaves victims of head-on crashes with extreme physical trauma. Victims are left with broken bones when they hit the road or when the vehicle's engine is crashed and crumbles in, thus fracturing their bones. Similarly, after a crash and somebody is thrown on the road, oncoming traffic might strike or run over them, causing fatalities or more broken bones.
Development of PTSD
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is common for patients who are involved in the devastating and horrific head-on crashes. The horror images of the crash and the trauma might result in stress among victims of an accident. Counseling is recommended for front end crash victims to prevent PTSD. Some of the symptoms of PTSD include reliving the collision in flashbacks and nightmares, insomnia, difficulties concentrating, keeping off people, and places that remind you of the accident and feeling depressed and anxious.
The impact of head-on crashes whip the body forward and bring it to a sudden halt, which results in severe neck injuries. Symptoms of neck injuries include shoulder pain, neck pain, dizziness, headache, and back pain. If you begin to experience such symptoms after a crash, then most likely, you have sustained neck injuries.
Of all car accidents, 2% are caused by a head-on collision. 10% of car accident fatalities occur in frontal crashes. It is an indicator that the risk of death in head-on crashes is high. The dependents of the deceased can seek compensation from the driver who was at fault.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Severe back injuries result in spinal cord injuries. An injury on the spinal cord may lead to temporary or permanent paralysis. However, it depends on the location and severity of the damage.
Burns in the Event the Car Explodes
An individual might sustain burn injuries when the car catches fire or when hot liquids like oil get in contact with their body after a head-on collision. Burn injuries are overlooked in most cases, but they are the most fatal. Aside from the pain and suffering caused by these injuries, victims who suffer disfigurement may end up experiencing psychological trauma.
When cars crash head-on at high speed, the front ends of the vehicle will crumple. The driver and the passenger seated in the front seat are most likely to have their feet crushed. Blood from all over the body is not able to reach the limb after legs are broken, and if there is no quick response, the limbs will be amputated. The recovery from a severed arm can take months or years. Victims endure a long period of low self-esteem and pain.
After a crash, it’s critical to seek medical attention even if you feel you have not sustained any injuries. You might be experiencing delayed symptoms, which might appear a day or two days later. Seeking immediate medical attention will help with preventing life-threatening injuries and building substantial evidence for the insurance claim.
For victims who suffer serious injuries, surgery, and hospitalization are among the extensive medical care. After recovery from the injuries, rehabilitation and therapy are required. Despite this, some of the victims may be entirely unable to get back to work or a healthy lifestyle due to permanent disabilities. Due to that, these victims need compensation for the losses hence the need to reach out to a personal injury attorney.
Damages Available in a Head-On Collision Lawsuit
Fault in these types of crashes is based on negligence. If one or multiple drivers are driving while distracted, texting and driving, driving aggressively without reasonable care or operating an unsafe car, then in the event of a collision, they are the people to be held accountable for negligence. However, Florida is a no-fault state meaning everyone turns to their insurer for compensation. Those who suffer injuries from such damages can file a claim to their insurer. But if the insurance policy limit is not enough to cover all the losses, then you can pay out of your pocket, use your medical insurance coverage or file a lawsuit against the driver at fault. Some of the costs that can be awarded to a plaintiff after a head-on collision include:
- Past, present and future medical bills
- Previous, current, and future lost income
- Physical and mental suffering
- All expenses that you paid for from your pocket
- Wrongful death
If you retain the services of an excellent personal injury attorney, it will be easy to recover maximum damages for the losses incurred after a crash.
Every driver in Florida is required by law to carry a personal protection policy of dollars ten thousand. The amount can only cover small claims like a broken arm, leg, or nose to prevent such issues from clogging the legal system. However, matters involving catastrophic injuries, permanent injuries, or wrongful death are resolved in the court.
Determining Liability in Head-On Collisions
According to the legal duty of care, every motorist is required to observe the law and drive safely for his/her safety and the safety of other road users. Failing to exercise the legal duty of care on the road is negligence. If violating the law results in property damage or injuries, the party at fault is held liable. Proving negligence is not a piece of cake as it involves a complete evaluation of all the events leading to the accident. You and your attorney must, therefore, be prepared to prove that the at-fault party breached their duty of care when behind the wheel. Below are the elements you must prove:
Duty of Care
The plaintiff must convince the court that the defendant owed him/her the duty of care. Drivers are included in this legal concept and are expected to operate a car in a manner that keeps all road users, including other drivers, pedestrians, and passengers safe. The duty of care, therefore, requires drivers not to speed, obey traffic rules and signs, not to drive recklessly, and to use turn signals.
Breach of Duty
The plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant breached the duty of care by acting or not acting in a specific manner. If a driver operates a car without a reasonable standard of care or in a way, a reasonable person could not have handled the vehicle; his/her actions are considered a breach of duty. If a reasonable person would have operated the car more carefully, then the defendant was negligent. To prove this element, you can demonstrate to the court that the defendant was speeding, not adhering to traffic rules and signs, and was not considering the safety of all road users.
Proving the breach of duty is essential. However, what is more important is showing that the breach of duty was the actual cause of injuries or property damage. The result must have stemmed from the conduct. Causation is categorized into two: cause-in-fact and proximate cause. Cause-in-fact shows the direct relationship between the injuries or damage and the breach of duty like speeding or not observing traffic rules. Proximate cause means failure to exercise a duty of care indirectly caused the injuries.
Here, you need to demonstrate that the costs and losses associated with the accident can be expressed in monetary value. If the losses and injuries cannot be shown in numbers, the claim will be denied or reduced. Damages can be categorized either as economic and non-economic damages.
Florida is a pure comparative state. This means that even if the person who was harmed were 99% responsible for the collision, he or she would be awarded 1% damages. In head-on collisions involving multiple vehicles, the blame is going to be shared equitably.
Evidence Required to Prove Negligence
In proving a driver was negligent beyond a reasonable doubt, you must provide substantial evidence. If you are not hurt, therefore, you should begin collecting evidence immediately. But if you are injured and you can’t do it, have a trusted person obtain the proof for you before it’s too late. Car accidents are like fluid, and they clear up a few hours after a collision as law enforcers clear the scene of the crash to allow normal flow of traffic. It is the reason why, after a crash, there are certain things that you can do to gather the evidence before it’s all gone. These things include:
- Calling the police
- Exchanging information
- Get witness information and their statements
- Take photos of the scene and the injuries
- Seek medical attention
- Reach out to your insurer
- Contact an attorney
Taking the above steps becomes very useful when it comes to evidence. Here are some of the evidence needed to prove negligence:
Police don’t go to all accident scenes unless those that affect the flow of traffic or resulted in catastrophic injuries. Head-on collisions have police on the scene because the victims are left with severe injuries, and others even lose their lives. When they get to the scene, they begin collecting evidence by speaking to witnesses, searching for and taking measurements of skid marks, take photographs of the property loss and injuries. The investigating officers also record the weather conditions at the time of the accident. All this information is recorded in the police report, including information about the driver who was at fault. Make sure you get a copy of the police report because the information contained in it is pivotal in building substantial evidence.
After the crash, the images you take on the scene can be handy, especially in demonstrating the extent of damage caused to your car and the injuries sustained. Other things that you should record or take pictures of include police conducting field sobriety tests, skid marks, witnesses, and everything valuable in building a claim. Photos are beneficial, especially to insurance adjusters, when determining the cost of damages.
When a head-on crash occurs, the other driver doesn’t see anything, but witnesses often see things that might assist with a claim. Speak to the witnesses and ask them what they saw and put it down. Remember to write down their names and addresses, too, in case the court might need them to testify about what they saw. If they saw the driver texting while driving or sleeping, then that is enough evidence to prove negligence.
You cannot be compensated just for proving negligence. It is vital to show causation. The medical report is used to confirm that the injuries sustained stemmed from the head-on crash. Make sure that when you seek medical attention after an accident, the doctor or physician attending to you jots down in the report that the crash caused your injuries and how the harm will affect you today and in the long run. If the medical report doesn’t make it clear what caused the injuries, and the adverse effects they will have on your life, the insurance adjuster will have an excellent opportunity to reduce or deny you the claim.
Legal Rights of a Passenger in a Head-On Crash
The legal rights of a passenger involved in a head-on crash do not change regardless of the driver who caused the accident. If you are a passenger in a car and your driver causes an accident, you are not responsible for how the driver operates the vehicle so you can’t be accountable. But you are still expected by law to have the seatbelt on not to distract the driver.
Find a Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
Whenever you are involved in car accidents, you have the option to handle the claim alone or get an attorney. In Florida, however, retaining the services of an attorney is vital because pure comparative negligence is used in determining fault in head-on collisions. Debating the percentage of fault with the insurance company will be a huge task, and at times, the injuries might be catastrophic, thus the need for a court settlement. Therefore, Hiring the Clay County Personal Injury Attorney for representation is the best option. We invite you to contact us at 904-494-8242 to speak to one of our attorneys.