“Accidents do not happen; they are caused”- this saying ought to be in everyone’s mind whenever getting behind the wheels. Terrific accidents can occur in the blink of your eye if you are not alert. Head-on collision stands out as the massive destructor of all the fatal automobile crashes. Averting one can be possibly impossible.
As the name suggests, a head-on collision occurs when two vehicles speed against each other and crash. Imagine the force of the impact when two vehicles going at great speed collide against each other. The force would be the combined speed of both vehicles. This blog reveals the facts and claims on head-on collisions to guide the affected.
Statistics on Head-On Collision
Of all the motor vehicle collisions that occurred within the U. S. in 2005, head-on collisions account for 2% and almost 10 % of all fatalities. According to Fatal Analysis Reporting System (FARS), nearly seventy-five percent of all head on collisions happen in rural areas. Around 7,000 such collisions were reported to happen on two-lane roads. Most of the head on crashes are caused by careless driving. 13 percent of rural collisions and around 7 percent of urban collisions were frontal impacts or head-on car crashes.
In 2015, around 7100 people lost their precious lives in head-on collisions, says the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. This was nearly 54% of all crashes. All these statistics prove that we should be extra cautious to avoid getting into a catastrophic accident.
Causes of Head-On Crashes
As we have come across in our earlier blogs, all motor vehicle accidents result from either human errors or poor weather conditions. Let’s plunge into the details of factors detrimental enough to cause head-on collisions.
- Human errors
“To err is human…,” clearly depict human nature, which is reckless in spawning traumatic accidents. Human errors contribute to the major part of all the fatalities.
- Unsafe lane veering:
Unexpected lane changing and overtaking are the prominent human behaviors that make it almost impracticable to avoid head on collisions. Impatient people do not follow the traffic rules and tend to change lanes without any warning.
When vehicles veer into the nearby lanes, especially to the opposite lanes unexpectedly, the drivers of the on-coming lane will not get time to evade the fatal crashes. Even if they try to avert it, it will end up in accidents.
- Distracted driving:
Busy lanes are not meant for jay drivers. A hundred percent attention should be there when one is on the wheel. Drivers could be easily diverted by using mobile phones for texting or talking, eating, or fussing with the GPS. 75 % of the youth are confident that they can text while driving the vehicle safely.
Most of the youngsters are fond of rash driving or over-speeding. Speed thrills but also kills. While speeding, it would be difficult to stop or control the vehicle in need. The sudden brake application could swerve the vehicle to end up in a traumatic head-on collision with the on-coming vehicle.
- Exhaustion and drowsiness:
After many hours of exertion at work, people would be exhausted and drowsy while on their way back home. Long-distance drivers, especially truck drivers, tend to feel drowsy while behind the wheel. If they fall asleep, the possibility of a frontal collision cannot be prevented.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had recorded around 1,550 fatalities and 71,000 injuries caused by drowsy drivers every year.
- Improper maneuvering in curves:
Failure to negotiate on curves or misjudging the turn become major reasons for crashes at the turnings. Inexperienced drivers must be extra cautious while maneuvering on the bends or else they would end up in a head on collision.
Inebriated drivers should stay away from driving. Drunken drivers become the reason for one-third of all the deaths in traffic fatalities. According to NHTSA, one person loses life every 52 minutes in drunk driving. While under the influence of alcohol or drugs, people cannot stick onto their own lanes, which will result in head-on car crashes.
While intoxicated either by drugs or drinks, one cannot maneuver the vehicle tactfully in challenging situations. The impaired brain cannot reason or react on time. Therefore, drivers who are blind drunk will put their as well others’ lives at risk.
- Failure to yield way:
Traffic lights and signals along the road are meant to ensure the safety of all road users. When the drivers fail to respect the laws and ignore them, head on crashes could not be forestalled.
- Poor weather conditions
Around 22 % of traffic collisions every year are caused by bad weather conditions such as snow, sleet, fog, rain, storm, dust winds, and icy or slithery roads. Let’s see how the weather conditions add on their part in catastrophic accidents.
- Low visibility:
Low visibility due to dust winds, fog, or heavy rain can potentially lead to fatal crashes. Especially on rural areas and two-lane roads, diminished visibility plays its part in adding the death toll. Speeding in such weather can increase the risk of a possible crash.
Snow-covered lanes could surprise you off-guard and slither your vehicle out of the way onto the speeding vehicle opposite to you.
Heavy wind and flying debris could forcibly take the vehicle out of your control and toss it at the vehicles approaching you. Snowstorms can lead to head-on collisions and vehicle pile-ups.
Researches have shown that more head-on collisions are caused by rain among all bad weather conditions. Speeding through the heavy traffic in rainy conditions makes you somewhat invisible to the other road users. Failing to use headlights to warn others and not slowing down will put everyone’s life at risk.
- Improper road conditions
Roads could wear away in time and become dangerous to road users. The deterioration due to severe weather, heavy machinery, etc., can create potholes, cracks, or uneven road surfaces and lead the drivers to lose balance to have a head-on crash with the other vehicles.
- Potholes and uneven road surface:
Slipping into a large pothole can result in tire blowouts. This will make the driver veer out of control to the oncoming traffic lane and end up in a head-on collision. Bumps and uneven road surfaces can also knock off the road users from controlling the vehicle.
Construction work zones near the lanes will deposit more debris on the lanes. There will be machinery, workers, and other building materials to cause obstacles on the road. If you happen to speed through such debris, you will be thrown to the vehicles opposite you. Slowing the speed will preclude possible dangers.
- Manufacturing defects
Not all head-on collisions are caused by humans and nature. However careful a driver is, unexpected tire blowouts, brake failures or defective auto parts can catch him off guard and lead to frontal impacts. Such crashes are unfortunate and cannot be prevented by even an experienced and conscientious driver.
What Makes The Head-On Collision a Dangerous One?
In rear-end impacts and side impacts, mostly the speed and mass of the impacting vehicle will play a major role in deciding the force of the impact. In head-on collision, as the speed of both the vehicles are directed towards each other, the force of the impact is decided by the combined speed of both. This fact makes the head-on crashes the most terrific of all.
For example, a car of 1500 kg mass going at 100 km speed will have a momentum of 42,000 kg m/s (kg m/s- unit of momentum). If two cars of the same mass impact against each other at same speed, the combined momentum of two cars will be 84,000 kg m/s. This will cause a greater impact, which will be 2646 GN (GN- unit for measurement for acceleration). The collision distance and impact duration will play a major role in deciding the force of the impact. Such an impact will definitely cause life-threatening injuries.
Injuries Caused By Head-On Collision
Can you imagine the severity of the injuries caused by two speeding vehicles colliding against each other in full force? The injuries would be catastrophic and make the victims suffer long-lasting traumatic pain, amputation, disfigurements, or paralysis. Let’s analyze in detail the possible fatal injuries caused by head on collisions.
- Traumatic brain injuries: When the head undergoes a blunt or penetrating trauma, it could have skull fractures or injury to the lobes of brain. These primary injuries include bruising, bleeding, or shearing of the nerve fibers. The victim could have blurry vision, dizziness, headaches, or loss of consciousness as immediate effects.
However, when the brain swells due to the impact, it pushes against the wall of the skull. This would prevent normal blood flow and result in loss of oxygen to the brain cells. These secondary injuries would be dangerous than the primary injuries.
The different types of traumatic brain injuries are concussion, contusion, diffuse axonal injury, hematoma, Traumatic Subarachnoid Hemorrhage.
- Spinal cord injuries and paralysis: Spinal cord injury is another injury of concern in head-on collisions. Since the spinal cord plays the role of a messenger from the body to the brain, injury to the spinal cord would disrupt the signals from reaching the brain. The victim has to undergo long-term treatment to get improvements. Fatal spinal cord injuries could not be cured completely.
- In catastrophic spinal cord injuries, the victim may lose the sense of touch or movement below the injured part. In extreme cases, paraplegia (paralysis to the lower body) or quadriplegia (paralysis from the neck down) will be the result.
- Internal organ damage and hemorrhage: Internal organ damage happens when broken bones pierce the organs. This could be possible in rib fractures where the broken ribs puncture the lungs and end up in internal hemorrhage. When metal pieces perforate the internal organs, it can lead to losing part of the organ. Kidney or liver damages are common in head-on collisions.
- Whiplash: When the neck jolts or jerks violently in an impact, whiplash occurs. Though it is more common in rear-end collisions, it can also happen in head-on crashes.
- Broken bones: Broken bones are common in most auto accidents. In severe impacts like head-on collisions, broken bones cannot be prevented.
- Airbag injuries: The sudden and potent impacts would cause the airbags to deploy. Though they are meant to protect your life, they could create injuries like neck, back, face, whiplash injuries, or even traumatic brain injuries. The airbags open up at around 100 mph speed. When something hits your body at this speed, it could cause severe injuries.
- Injuries to hip, leg, or knees: Since the force of the impact is greater, injuries to the hip, leg, or knees could not be avoided.
- Amputation: In dreadful head-on collisions, upper or lower limb amputations could occur. When the drastic impacts damage the muscles, nerves, bones, etc., amputation will be necessitated. This would turn out to be life-altering in the lives of the victims.
- Disfigurement: In serious and heavy impacts, more fatal injuries to the body can be expected. These catastrophic injuries could cause scars and disfigurements that last forever. These scars will result in extensive reconstruction surgeries or plastic surgeries.
- Lacerations: Lacerations are common in a head-on crash. Lacerations occur when the skin, tissues, and muscles are pierced with metal or glass pieces. Sometimes broken bones also could cause lacerations.
What to Do After a Head-on Crash?
Involving in a head-on collision will be tragic and traumatizing as the injuries are grave. Getting immediate medical attention will save you from worsening your injuries. Call ambulance service to get immediate assistance.
Share each and every injury and symptom you have to the medical provider and get them recorded. Maintain all your medical records for your future claim process.
Call 911 or the highway patrol to report the accident. Getting the details recorded immediately after the accident in a collision report will do a great help in your claim.
Evidence plays an inevitable role in determining the fault of the collision, and so documenting the skid marks is vital. Since the force of the impact is heavy, it will throw the vehicles in different directions. Therefore, from the position of the vehicles after the impact, it will be difficult to decide who is at fault.
Record the position and damages of both the vehicles, your injuries, either in the form of videos or photos.
Try documenting all the possible things you remember related to the collision for your personal use. Since the memories will be fresh immediately after the crash and forget the details later, this step gains importance.
Collect the insurance and personal information of the at-fault driver.
Contact your insurance provider to give the details. Never give any verbal or written statements to the at-fault driver’s insurance provider, as it could be turned against you.
Documenting the words of the eyewitnesses will add strength to your litigation. Try to collect the personal and contact information of the eyewitnesses.
Contact a head-on collision attorney to proceed with your claim. Since proving who is at fault is somewhat difficult, an attorney can seek the help of accident reconstruction experts to decide the mechanics of the collision. They will prove the cause of the impact with proof to help your claim.
How Is Fault Determined in a Head-On Collision?
Determining fault in a frontal crash is vital in the litigation process. Usually, the fault is determined by verifying the position of the cars to know who went the wrong way. The individual who took the wrong lane will be liable in most of the crashes.
In some other cases, the individual who initiated the accident and caused the driver to go the wrong way to collide with others will be held liable. For example, seeing a drunken driver wavering on the road, an individual veered into the nearby lane to avert the collision. Here, the drunken driver who initiated the crash will be held liable.
When the employees involve in crashes within the scope of their work, the employers or the company becomes liable for the crash.
Do you know whose fault is it in a head-on collision led by faulty auto parts? In the case of the vehicle malfunctioning led crashes, the manufacturing company, dealers, or even the vehicle maintenance shop are at fault for causing the accident and becoming the reason for the victim’s damages.
If the accidents occurred due to badly constructed roadways like sharp curves and narrow medians, the government agency would be responsible for the crash. Even the road contractor could be held liable if the road construction or maintenance defaults caused the accident.
How Does The Negligence Law Work in Head-On Collision?
Most of the time, a frontal collision occurs due to the negligence of drivers. Negligence law states that an individual driver owes a duty of reasonable care to the other road users. Breaching that duty and causing harm to others is considered serious negligence on the driver’s part. He is liable for all the damages that arise out of his negligence to the victims.
In most states, the comparative negligence law is followed. Based on the degree of negligence on the part of the plaintiff and defendants, the compensation can be recovered. Under pure comparative negligence, even if the victim is 99% responsible for the crash, he could get the 1% compensation he deserves.
However, under modified comparative negligence states, if the degree of negligence is 50% or less, the victim could be eligible for restitution based on the degree of negligence. For example, if you are 40% responsible for the crash, you can get 60% compensation. In some other states, if your negligence is 51% or less, you can recover what you deserve.
In a few states where contributory negligence is followed, even a slight contribution from your part to the collision will make you ineligible for the recovery.
Damages Claimed for a Head-On Collision
Head-on car crash comes under personal injury claim. Like other personal injury lawsuits, you can claim for economic and non-economic damages in a frontal collision. The economic damages include:
- Present and future medical expenses
- Out of the pocket expenses
- Loss of property
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
The non-economic damages include:
- Loss of consortium
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Scars and disfigurement
- Loss of quality of life
In some cases, to punish the defendant for his wrongful act, punitive damages are awarded by the jury to the victim. If the victim lost his life due to the defendant’s carelessness, wrongful death could be claimed by the spouse or the family. The damages include:
- Funeral and burial costs
- Loss of inheritance
- Loss of love and companionship
- Loss of care and guidance from the deceased
- Loss of value of services would have been provided by the victim if alive
The average payout for head on collision could range from a few thousand dollars to a few million dollars based on the degree of negligence, the severity of injuries, the extension of the damages, the expense of the treatments, and the need for future care and assistance.
Steel wire cables are laid on Michigan roadways to avoid head-on collisions. Despite the fact that they have successfully reduced the occurrence of frontal collisions, losing control of the car will result in some other minor damages to the vehicle and the occupants.
How to avoid a head on collision? Most head-on crashes may be avoided by obeying traffic regulations and signals and avoiding distractions while driving. Do not worry if you are involved in a frontal collision. Follow the post-crash protocols and call a head-on accident attorney to help you navigate the intricate lawsuit.
Drive safely and be away from collisions!