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Head On Collision Settlement
Head on crashes involve only 2% of auto collisions in the U.S. but account for 10% of auto crash deaths. Head-on wrecks also account for 58% of all car accident deaths, and 13% of all rural crashes. Even if the vehicle occupants survive these terrible crashes, they may suffer catastrophic injuries. If you are seriously injured, you will likely need a head on collision settlement after a devastating accident.
If you or a loved one suffered an injury in a head-on crash, you probably want to know how much you can get in a head on collision settlement and other related information. On this page, you will learn about crash settlements, types of injuries, insurance company tactics, how liability is determined, what impacts a fair settlement amount, and more about head-on crashes.
What Causes Head On Crashes?
There are many ways for a car accident to occur. A head on auto accident usually involves specific circumstances. Most car accidents are not head on because these accidents are highly avoidable due to the fact that both drivers usually have a clear view of the road ahead of them. The most common reasons for head on crashes are:
- Drunk driving: DUI leads to many deadly head-on wrecks. A drunk driver has impaired judgment and reflexes, and they may even fall asleep behind the wheel. In almost all cases, legally drunk drivers are found to be at fault.
- Unsafe passing: In rural regions, two-way roads require passing cars to shift into the oncoming traffic lane to pass a slower vehicle. If the passing driver misjudges the distance or does not see the oncoming driver, a terrible head-on car accident occurs.
- Wrong-way driving: Many fatal crashes happen because a confused or drunk driver goes the wrong way on a highway or one-way road.
- Cell phones: Texting or talking on a cell phone can distract a driver enough to lead to a deadly head-on car accident.
- Drowsy driving: Due to long working hours, tractor-trailer drivers are notorious for falling asleep behind the wheel and hitting smaller vehicles in head on collisions.
- Poor road conditions: A vehicle can slide or hydroplane from wet or snowy weather into oncoming traffic. Or a driver may swerve to avoid a pothole or road debris, causing head on collisions.
In many of these circumstances, the fault of the accident is very clear. Yet, there are so many factors involved in car accidents that proving fault in a court of law can be complicated. Request a free consultation from a trusted lawyer to explore how easy it may be to prove fault in your accident case.
Common Head On Crash Injuries
A head on collision is one of the most serious types of car accidents. Cars traveling in the opposite direction that hit head one can lead to devastating and sometimes fatal injuries. The severity of injuries in a head on collision depend upon the speed of the vehicles at the time of impact and the safety features of the vehicles. Cuts, scrapes, and bruises can happen in these crashes, but more severe injuries are likely.
Medical bills for personal injury caused by a car accident can quickly skyrocket, leading many people to seek a settlement. The more serious the injuries, the more costly the medical treatment. Head on collisions cause some of the worst personal injuries possible in car accidents. Take a look at some of the most common injuries caused by these crashes:
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injuries or TBIs are serious injuries that happen when an outside force damages normal brain function. For instance, a bump to your head can lead to brain damage. TBIs often occur in auto accidents with high levels of force.
During head on collisions, it’s possible for your head to slam into the windshield, steering wheel, or asphalt, causing the brain to hit the skull, rebound, and hit the other side. The brain may bruise, bleed, or swell. Traumatic brain injuries can range from a mild concussion to severe brain damage. In the worst cases, car accident victims die, go into a coma or lose vital brain activity.
Even a minor brain injury can impair how you think, talk, or move. Surgery and rehabilitation may boost your odds of recovery, but every crash case is unique. Some accident victims must live with brain damage and its consequences for life.
Spinal Cord Injuries and Paralysis
When two vehicles smash into each other in a head on collision, the crash speed is equal to the sum of both. If both cars traveled at 45 MPH, the combined rate is a devastating 90 MPH.
Such a high-speed car accident can cause a spinal cord injury. Spinal injuries prevent your brain and body from communicating effectively. In some cases, the brain signals that control your sensation and movement are disrupted. Partial or total paralysis can occur. You may be immobile or unable to feel certain body parts.
A spinal cord injury may be permanent, but some patients improve with rehabilitation.
A head on car accident can crush the chest against the steering wheel or dashboard, even if the airbag inflates. Your ribs may bruise or break. Broken ribs can be dangerous in a car accident because the bone fragments can puncture your lungs, heart, liver, or other vital organs.
Even if your ribs and organs are ok, a severe chest blow may make breathing agonizing for weeks.
Internal Organ Damage
Head on collisions can damage vital organs, especially the lungs. If a rib punctured one of your lungs, you could die. The same can happen to your liver, heart, and other nearby organs. Additionally, the digestive tract also can be damaged in a car accident. For example, the intestines may rupture or bruise when the seat belt contracts against your abdomen. Other internal injuries may also occur during an accident. Heart injuries that may lead to a heart attack are also possible. Don’t ignore chest pain after a car accident. Make sure you get medical attention to rule out any life-threatening or serious conditions.
Organ damage can be hard to detect at first, so it is critical to get medical attention immediately after any auto accident.
The violence of a head-on collision can shatter bones. Your arms and legs may smash into the steering wheel or dashboard because the seat belt does nothing to restrain them. Also, your hip socket can break if your lower legs slam into the footboard. Severe foot and ankle fractures also are common in head on collisions.
In a frontal impact or head on collision, the head and neck of drivers and passengers will continue to move forward while the body will mostly stay in the same position. This violent action will stretch and strain the muscles and ligaments at the back of the neck and at the base of the head and into the shoulders.
Some of the common signs of whiplash are back, neck and shoulder pain, numbness, weakness, stiffness, dizziness and headaches. But these symptoms may not show up immediately, so it is important to get a medical evaluation right away after the head on collision.
General Pain and Suffering
Bruising, minor cuts, and abrasions may seem like minor injuries considering the seriousness of head on collisions. However, they can still make you uncomfortable and cause pain and suffering. In a car accident, the seat belt and airbags can push or pull forcefully against your body, causing bruising. If windows break during the car accident, it’s easy for victims to get cuts. While many cuts are minor, others may require stitches.
Head on collisions may also cause psychological damage and emotional distress, especially if there are fatalities and serious injuries involved. Car accident victims may even suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). An average of 22% of auto accident survivors may suffer from this condition. PTSD can result in insomnia, agitation, distressing memories and dreams, flashbacks, memory problems, symptoms similar to depression, and more. It’s important to keep in mind that screening for PTSD is often delayed following a car accident. It’s important to seek mental health assistance for auto accident victims to get a diagnosis as soon as possible.
Injuries are very likely in head on collisions. Medical expenses can be very high, which means that insurance companies do their best to avoid high payouts. If you or a loved one has suffered a serious personal injury due to an auto accident, make sure you seek legal assistance so that you can achieve a fair settlement.
How to Avoid a Head On Collision
As drivers, there’s a lot we can do to avoid head on collisions and their devastating consequences. Some of the ways to avoid a head on collision or to avoid major injury in the case of a head on collision are:
Do Not Speed
The higher the speed at impact, the bigger the chance that you will suffer a serious personal injury in a head on accident. While you cannot control the speed of other drivers, you can control the speed of your vehicle by not going over the posted speed limit. Remember to adjust your speed to the road conditions as well. Drive slower than the speed limit in the rain, snow, and other difficult weather conditions.
Wear Your Seatbelt
The chances of serious or fatal personal injury in any car accident are reduced by wearing your seatbelt. It is highly unlikely you will survive a head on collision at high speed without a seatbelt. Statistics show that 47% of people killed in an auto accident in 2019 were not wearing a seatbelt. An estimated 14,955 lives were saved in 2017 thanks to seatbelt usage. So, wear your seatbelt to stay safe.
Ensure Your Vehicle’s Safety Features Are Working
It is especially important to be certain that the airbag will deploy in a head on collision. Check with your dealership to make sure that your car’s airbags are working properly. Generally, your mechanic or dealer should check these features during your yearly car inspection.
Don’t Drink and Drive
Drinking and driving is a fatal combination that can easily result in head on collisions. If you drink, arrange transportation with a sober driver, even if that means paying for a cab or an Uber. In the United States, an average of 28 people dies every day due to drunk driving. Remember, if you drink, you put not only yourself at risk, but you also endanger others.
Perform Regular Maintenance on Your Car
Faulty brakes, tire failure, and issues with your car’s steering and suspension are just a few problems that can result in an accident. By performing regular maintenance on your car, you can make sure that all systems are working as they should. Although it may seem expensive to replace worn tires and brake pads, these maintenance costs can save your life when you’re driving and help you avoid an accident.
When on the road, defensive driving can help you avoid an accident. Many defensive driving courses are available that can be completed in 10 hours or less. These courses can teach accident prevention techniques such as:
- Calculating your stop and reaction distance
- Following distance rules
- Psychological health while driving (avoiding stress, road rage, etc.)
- Road scanning techniques
- and much more!
Your auto insurance company may even provide you with a discounted rate if you take a defensive driving course.
Be Aware of Inclement Weather
Bad weather can increase your chances of getting in a car accident. Slick, icy roads, rain, fog, and high wind are just a few conditions that can increase the probability of accidents. When driving in these conditions, drive slowly and pull over if necessary. Also, remember to turn on your headlights and hazard lights so that your car is visible to others.
By following the above advice, you can greatly reduce your chances of being involved in a car accident. Prevention is the best way to avoid economic damages and injury. However, it’s sometimes impossible to avoid being in a crash. Should you or a loved one get in an accident, make sure that both your economic damages and non-economic damages are compensated through a fair settlement.
Steps to Take After a Head On Collision
Sometimes, no matter what you do, you get into a car accident. When this happens, it’s important to know the steps to take to protect yourself, prepare for your insurance company claim, and get ready for a settlement if necessary. Here are the steps you need to take:
Get Medical Attention
If you need medical treatment due to a personal injury, call 911 for help or ask someone to do it for you. Your health and well-being are the most important concerns after an accident. So, focus on this as your number one priority.
Always avoid saying “I’m fine,” or “I don’t need medical attention.” This may be used against you later should you have injuries that aren’t apparent at the scene of the accident. Immediately following an accident, your body is flooded with adrenaline, which may mask pain. Furthermore, injuries such as sprains, bruising, chronic pain, and PTSD may show up hours or days after your accident. To protect yourself and your potential injury case, go to the hospital or doctor’s office for a check, even if you feel fine.
If you are too hurt to collect evidence and take care of the remaining steps, consider asking a lawyer for help. A lawyer can make the proper inquiries and obtain evidence collected by insurance companies, first responders, and witnesses.
Move to a Safe Place
If you are able, turn off your car’s engine and exit the car. Leaking fuel can be a concern following an accident, so it’s best to keep your vehicle off and move to a safe distance from the crash.
Call the Police
Following an accident, some insurance companies require a police report to file a claim, even in minor accidents. So, be sure to call the police or to file a report as soon as possible.
Exchange Insurance Company Information
If another driver was involved in the crash, exchange relevant information such as:
- Contact information
- Auto insurance company and policy number
- Driver’s license number and license plate number
Also be sure to jot down the location of the accident and the vehicle make, model, and color. This information will be helpful when dealing with police reports and your insurance company.
Call Your Insurance Company Agent
Many insurance companies make themselves available to help you in the event of an accident. Be sure to call your representative and follow the necessary steps to make your claim. If you are concerned about any papers that your insurance company asks you to sign, feel free to consult with a lawyer first. Remember, taking things slowly is best. If you sign or say something before seeking legal advice, it can later be used against you.
Take Photos and Talk to Others
Before moving the cars involved in the crash, take photos of the accident. This can help prove damages to the car and show how the accident took place. In addition, speak to any witnesses and request their contact information. Should you need to go to court, a witness can help your accident attorney make your case.
By taking all of these steps, you can prepare yourself for the best outcomes after your collision. It can be hard to stay calm and collected after a serious accident. If possible, call someone you trust or an accident lawyer to help you in the moments after the crash. This person can help you through these steps.
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Do You Need a Personal Injury Lawyer for a Head On Collision Settlement?
Are you wondering whether you should hire a personal injury lawyer after a car accident?
Whether you were the fault driver or not, it can be worthwhile to schedule a free consultation with a law firm to discuss your case. If you suffered economic damages or have a personal injury case, you can discuss what a fair settlement might be in this free consultation. You can also discover how a personal injury lawyer will support you as you navigate the legal system.
Personal injury lawyers with experience in car accident cases can provide a wealth of knowledge and expertise. With the help of a lawyer, you can make sure that you get fair compensation for your car accident cases.
How to Decide to Make Your Own Claim Or Hire An Accident Attorney
Some soft tissue injuries do not require the involvement of attorneys. In smaller claims, the head on collision settlement offered may be just enough to cover your medical expenses and lost wages.
But many head-on collisions involve serious, hard injuries – broken bones, brain trauma, neck injuries, etc. Even a head on collision that causes whiplash can involve thousands of dollars in economic damages that could necessitate the skills of the personal injury attorney to get the maximum possible settlement. If you feel that the settlement amount offered is inadequate, consult with a law firm to explore the possibility of an improved settlement.
Generally, settlement amounts in a hard injury claim are higher than a soft tissue injuries claim. These cases usually are best handled by an experienced personal injury attorney. An accident attorney can compare your hard injury claim with settlements and awards from other recent head-on crash cases in your area. This will give you a good idea of what your head on collision settlement amount could look like in real dollars.
Before choosing the law firm you’ll work with, obtain several free consultation sessions from different firms so that you can get to know your potential lawyer. This way, you can test out your attorney client relationship and make sure you’ll have a good experience.
Determining Liability in a Head On Crash
Courts have long maintained that drivers have what is called a ‘legal duty of care’ to others on the road. This means simply that every driver must follow the law and watch out for the safety of other drivers, passengers and pedestrians. If a driver fails to follow traffic laws, drives in a reckless fashion, or endangers another person’s health or safety, this is negligence. It is a violation of the duty of care. When the breach causes injuries and/or damages, that driver can be held liable.
Some of the basic questions you can ask to determine whether a driver is at fault include:
- Did the driver violate traffic laws?
- Did the accident involve a car making a left-hand turn?
- What did the drivers say after the accident?
- Were there witnesses? What did they observe?
- Did one of the drivers exhibit negligence?
If the answers to these questions point to one of the drivers being at fault, it shows possible liability. But to say a driver breached the duty of care and proving it in court are very different matters. If you were hurt in a head-on accident, you and your personal injury attorney must show that the negligence of the other party was a direct cause of the crash. This is known in the law as your burden of proof.
To prove that the driver was negligent and caused your injuries, you are required to demonstrate a preponderance of the evidence. This is a legal term that means you must show enough evidence that shows it is more likely than not that the driver was negligent.
If you establish that the other driver was negligent, he is then responsible for your accident injuries. This will typically include your medical bills, out of pocket costs, lost wages, economic damages, and pain and suffering. The final settlement amount will depend on many factors, which you can learn more about below.
What if a Fault Driver Isn’t Clear?
When there is no clear fault driver, your attorney can help prove how the accident took place. A good attorney will bring in the help of experts who can reconstruct the circumstances of the accident. Experts use witness testimony, physical evidence, photos, and more to show how the accident happened.
Sometimes, experts determine that both drivers played a role in the accident. For example, what if one driver failed to turn on their blinker when making a left turn, but the other driver was speeding? In this case, both drivers are somewhat responsible for the accident. Had the speeding driver been moving more slowly, they could’ve avoided the accident. However, the driver who failed to put on their blinker made it harder for the other driver to react. In these cases, drivers may be assigned comparative fault. In other words, one driver might be 60% responsible for the accident while the other driver is 40% responsible. According to some state laws, each driver may compensate the other based on the percentage of fault assigned. In other states, only the driver who is assigned 51% plus fault pays a settlement amount.
Driver Duty of Care Law in Bad Weather
The duty of care law also applies to bad weather. If you were in an accident during poor weather conditions, it is possible that the weather played a role. However, sometimes, negligence also plays a part. This is because drivers are required to show duty of care based on the weather conditions. In other words, during heavy rain, it’s not safe to drive the speed limit. Speed limits are set for normal weather conditions. So, if a vehicle fails to slow down during bad weather, this could be viewed as negligence, even if the driver wasn’t technically speeding.
Some examples of negligence during poor weather conditions are:
- Failure to use wipers or headlights
- Worn tires
- Failure to follow road signs
- Distracted driving (such as using a phone while driving)
- Drunk driving
- Driving too fast for the road conditions
What Are Head On Crash Settlements Worth?
Some legal sources report the median head-on crash settlement is $30,000. But this number is misleading. Approximately 25% of the cases reported in this survey only involved back sprains. The analysis may have counted minor parking lot crashes.
Most head-on vehicle wrecks involve severe injury or death, and a fair settlement may be six or seven figures if there is enough insurance coverage. A head-on crash with a commercial vehicle often leads to a big settlement because trucking companies must carry up to $1 million in liability coverage. Most head-on injury cases involve surgery, which almost always drives up the case value.
The majority of these catastrophic crash cases settle before trial. Unfortunately, the only factor limiting the settlement value of some of these crashes is the lack of insurance coverage. If the at-fault driver is covered by a standard auto insurance policy, bodily injury coverage may be as little as $25,000 or $50,000.
Factors Influencing Head On Collision Settlement Amounts
A variety of factors influence your settlement amount. First and foremost, insurance coverage can limit settlements due to limited coverage. Here are some of the other factors that influence the final settlement amount:
In law, special damages refer to economic damages suffered due to an accident. In any given personal injury case, economic damages can include lost wages, medical bills, property damage, funeral and burial costs, and lowered earning capacity due to injuries. Other out-of-pocket expenses may also be considered. Generally, the higher the cost of special damages, the higher the settlement amount. In cases where liability is shared between two drivers, the settlement may be lower.
General damages refer to non-economic losses such as pain and suffering, discomfort, loss of reputation, emotional distress, loss of abilities, and more. General damages are awarded value depending on the severity of injuries and how permanent the conditions are. More severe injuries generally result in greater settlement value.
Other factors may also influence the final compensation or settlement in injury cases. Other influential factors include:
- Whether or not the driver has commercial insurance
- Weather conditions
- Statements made by each of the drivers
- Additional factors
Each case is unique and will lead to a settlement amount that reflects the details of the accident case.
How Fault Influences Car Crash Settlement Amounts
Each state has specific rules regarding how fault influences settlements. Comparative fault is one theory that allows the fault driver to obtain a settlement for their damages, based on how much fault they are assigned. For example, if one driver is assigned 60% of the fault in a car accident, they can recover 40% compensation for their damages.
However, some states don’t use comparative fault. Instead, some states use the rule of contributory negligence. In states that follow this theory, if the driver was assigned any fault, they are unable to obtain compensation from the other driver. Yet other states follow the modified comparative fault law. This law states that drivers who are 51% or more at fault in a car accident may not receive compensation from the other driver.
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Sample Head On Collision Settlement Cases
Head-on crashes usually involve severe injuries and costly medical bills. That is why settlements for this type of accident can be higher than for other types of car crashes. But every case is different. If you have been hurt in a head-on collision, please find a licensed attorney at Lawsuit Info Center for more information about your possible case.
Below are real settlements obtained for head on collision cases from personal injury attorneys across the United States.
$26 Million Head On Collision Settlement
A car slammed into a 29-year-old man’s vehicle on a snowy road in Pennsylvania. When the oncoming vehicle did not slow down, the man held his left arm up to shield his head. The car accident totaled his vehicle and crushed his left arm and elbow. He suffered comminuted and compound fractures to his left elbow (his dominant hand) and a cut ulnar nerve. The man sustained permanent function loss, disfigurement, and chronic pain. The crash victim also contracted MRSA from the bone graft surgery, and he needed a year of recovery from that infection.
As a result of the car accident, the man needed more than 20 surgeries on his left arm over two years. It’s hard to imagine the level of pain and suffering this man endured. His severe arm injuries limited his working ability, his medical bills were high, and he has suffered a substantial loss of income. The case resulted in a settlement of $26 million.
$800,000 Head On Collision Settlement
A tractor-trailer slammed into a car head-on. The company driver was at fault because he did not yield right of way when making a left turn. The plaintiff suffered a hangman’s fracture in the spine at C2, thoracic spine fractures, and sternum injuries. Doctors performed several surgeries to stabilize the horrific injuries he suffered due to the car accident. The attorney reached an $800,000 settlement with the company’s insurance provider. Note that insurance coverage is much higher when a commercial vehicle causes a crash.
$475,000 Head On Collision Verdict
A delivery truck in New Jersey crossed the center line and hit a 17-year-old lacrosse player’s car head-on. She suffered fibula and tibia fractures, meaning she could not play lacrosse. She also lost a sports scholarship. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit after surgeons performed open reduction and internal fixation with hardware. Liability was uncontested, but the defense argued the woman exaggerated her injuries. The jury saw matters differently and awarded her $475,000.
$250,000 Head On Collision Settlement
A man distracted by a cell phone in New York crossed the center lane and smashed into the plaintiff’s car. The 27-year-old crash victim shattered her foot, ankle, and leg. When she got to the hospital, surgeons implanted a rod in her left leg to mend the fractures. She needed more surgeries to remove the hardware. The woman also required months of painful physical therapy.
The crash victim missed a year of work time and still has severe pain and suffering. State Farm insurance company agreed on a head on settlement of $250,000.
$130,000 Head On Collision Verdict
A driver in Pennsylvania made a sudden left turn in front of a 42-year-old woman, cutting off a vehicle going in the other direction. The car swerved into her path, causing a head-on wreck.
The plaintiff spent five days in the hospital. She suffered herniated discs and radiculopathy. Both injuries required a year of physical therapy, but she still experiences pain and suffering, and a reduced range of motion. The woman claimed the injuries damaged her business, which eventually shut down.
After a short personal injury trial, the jury awarded $130,000 for past and future pain and suffering.
$70,000 Head On Collision Settlement
A driver in Kansas City crossed the median and hit the plaintiff’s car head-on. The defendant told law enforcement he fell asleep, and he bumped the car in front of him. That minor accident scared him, and he lost control of the vehicle.
The crash victim did not have pain immediately after the crash. However, she began to suffer headaches and nausea two days later. At the hospital, the doctor diagnosed her with a concussion. The concussion prevented the woman from playing volleyball at her university for a year.
While the plaintiff did not immediately seek medical attention, her attorney collected witness statements describing how her personality changed after the accident. The case settled for $70,000, with $61,000 for pain and suffering.
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