Head-On Collision Settlement 

What's In This Article

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 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. You will learn about crash settlements, types of injuries, and more about head-on crashes on this page. 

What Causes Head-On Crashes? 

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. 
  • 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 crash 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 impact. 
  • Drowsy driving: Tractor-trailer drivers are notorious for falling asleep behind the wheel and hitting smaller vehicles head-on. 
  • 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. 

Common Head-On Crash Injuries

Cuts, scrapes, and bruises can happen in these crashes, but more severe injuries are likely: 

Traumatic Brain Injuries

A traumatic brain injury or TBI happens 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. 

If your head slams into the windshield, steering wheel, or asphalt, the brain can hit the skull, rebound, and hit the other side. The brain may bruise, bleed, or swell. 

A TBI can be a mild concussion, or the brain damage can be severe. 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 a frontal crash, 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 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. 

Chest Injuries 

A head-on crash 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 crash 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

A frontal impact crash 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 the crash. For example, the intestines may rupture or bruise when the seat belt contracts against your abdomen. 

Organ damage can be hard to detect at first, so it is critical to get medical attention immediately after any car accident. 

Broken Bones

The violence of a head-on crash 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. 

What Are Head-On Crashes 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 involved back sprains. The analysis may have counted minor parking lot crashes. 

Most head-on vehicle wrecks involve severe injury or death, and settlements 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. 

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.

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 they 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, and pain and suffering.

Sample Head-On Crash Settlements

Head-on crashes usually involve severe injuries. That is why settlements can be higher than for other 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 from personal injury attorneys across the United States. 

$22.5 Million Head-On Crash Settlement

A car slammed into a 32-year-old man’s vehicle on a snowy road in New York. When the oncoming vehicle did not slow down, the man held his left arm up to shield his head. 

The crash 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. 

The man needed more than 20 surgeries on his left arm over two years. His severe arm injuries limited his working ability, and he has suffered a substantial loss of income. The case settled for $22.5 million. 

$800,000 Head-On Crash 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 his horrific injuries. 

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 the crash. 

$415,000 Head-On Crash Verdict 

A work van in Maryland crossed the center line and hit a 16-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 $415,000. 

$250,000 Head-On Crash 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 agreed to settle the case for $250,000. 

$130,000 Head-On Crash 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 a reduced range of motion. The woman claimed the injuries damaged her business, which eventually shut down. 

After a short trial, the jury awarded $130,000 for past and future pain and suffering. 

$70,000 Head-On Crash 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. 

Can The Insurance Company Slash My Settlement in a Head-On Crash?

They will try if they can. Some of these cases have clear liability, but others are muddled. For example, external circumstances can cause a driver to lose control and hit you. An icy road could cause the driver to slide and smash into you head-on. 

In such cases, the insurance company might attempt to reduce your settlement. From their point of view, if a slick road is 40% responsible for the wreck, their liability is 40% less. 

Further, if you were speeding at the time of impact, the insurance company may try to slash your settlement. 

Make sure you hire a skilled personal injury attorney in a frontal crash, especially if the defense questions liability. 

Make Your Own Claim Or Hire An Attorney

Some soft tissue injuries do not require the involvement of attorneys. In smaller claims, the 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 whiplash head on collision can involve thousands of dollars in damages that could necessitate the skills of the personal injury attorney to get the maximum possible settlement.

Generally, settlement amounts in a hard injury claim is higher than a soft tissue claim. These cases usually are best handled by an experienced personal injury attorney. An 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 accident settlement could look like in real dollars.

Head On Collision Settlement Calculator

Have you been involved in a head on car accident accident a injury? Find out how much financial compensation you may be legally entitled to in just minutes with our free online Head On Collision Settlement Calculator.

FAQ About rear end car accidents

There is no fixed rule on when you can get your settlement check from your personal injury case such as in a head on collision. If you want to get a settlement after a car accident from an auto insurance company, you should work closely with a personal injury attorney to get the check as soon as possible.

There are three reasons for a delay in getting your settlement check for your head on collision settlement:

  • Factual or legal issues with the case
  • The personal injury case involves a large figure
  • You still are receiving treatment for injuries from the wreck

It is especially common for large payouts to take a long time to resolve. Insurance companies do not want to pay out hundreds of thousands of dollars without going through their due diligence. This means they will investigate every part of the damages and liability parts of the case

You also usually need to reach maximum medical improvement before you can get your settlement check for your head on crash. If you hurry this, it could be a disastrous mistake as you may end up needing more medical care than you thought.

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A car accident with a head on collision is often a very serious accident. The injuries with these types of devastating crashes can run from the tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars in many instances. As with any serious personal injury, you and your personal injury attorney first need to add up the following economic costs of the accident after you have reached maximum medical recovery:

  • Your total medical costs
  • An estimate of your future medical costs
  • Loss of income that is due to the injuries that you sustained
  • Damage to your property, including your vehicle and contents

After these expenses are totaled, it is common to use a multiplier from 1-5 to determine how much your pain and suffering damages will be. In a more serious accident with weeks or months of recovery, the multiplier could be 3 or 4; for the most serious, life-changing injuries, it is possible the multiplier could be 5. The auto insurance company will typically argue for a lower number, while your attorney will argue for a higher one.

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If you are in an accident with a head on collision, here are some tips to maximize your compensation:

  • Check for injuries for all parties right away and call 911. Do not decide with any driver. Call the police and first responders so an official police record of the accident is recorded.
  • Be careful what you say. Do not say anything to other drivers or passengers that could imply fault on your part. Saying you are sorry or anything close to that could damage your claim later.
  • Get medical treatment right away. Some injuries are clear and others are not. Get to the hospital right away and have your head on collision injuries documented by a medical professional. If you do not seek medical treatment right away, this can reduce your compensation in a claim or lawsuit.
  • Collect evidence to support your injury claims: Get all the contact information for other drivers and passengers. Take photos and videos, and if able, get witness statements.
  • Be careful of giving recorded statements to the other insurance company. It is almost always a bad idea to talk to the other insurance company without an attorney. They will twist your words somehow and reduce what they pay you.
  • Keep a journal. If you have serious head on crash injuries, it will help to take notes in a journal of the pain you are going through and how it affects your life.
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Nobody gets in the car and thinks, “today I’m going to get into an accident”. It’s just not something we plan for and it can be devastating when it happens to us. Head on collisions are especially devastating due to high-speed impacts. However, there are safety precautions you can take to prevent such mishaps from occurring.  Some tips include:

  • Be aware of your surroundings (scan oncoming traffic)
  • Drive cautiously at a safe speed
  • Be aware of weather conditions
  • If you notice oncoming traffic drifting don’t be afraid to honk your horn, flash your headlights and swerve out of the way to avoid colliding head on
  • Avoid distractions (drinking, texting, playing with the radio)
  • Avoid passing on the wrong side of the road if you can’t see what oncoming traffic may be like
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Not all head on collisions involve legal action however, if you are involved in such mishap it would be wise to hire an attorney and find out what options you have. Be sure to do some research and choose an attorney who specializes in head on collisions, personal injury and property damage. Obtaining an attorney will give you many advantages where as if you do not, you will be left to fend for yourself dealing with the stress of insurance companies and potentially the other party’s attorney. Obtaining an attorney enables you to pawn the headache off to them. This allows you to let the attorney handle all paperwork, providing proof of negligence, handle all correspondences and communication while you can relax and focus on recovering from the accident. The attorney will also ensure you obtain the fullest amount of compensation as possible.

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Head on collisions are known for being deadly due to high speeds colliding head on with typically little to no braking involved. This is because head on collisions generally happened when one or both drivers involved are distracted. But the answer is yes! You can survive a head on collision! There are several tips to help ensure your safety if you happen to become involved in this type of crash. Some tips include:

  • Always wear a seat belt
  • Make sure your car’s airbag and other safety features are working properly
  • Drive at a speed under 43 miles per hour
  • Remain calm and steer without any jerking motions
  • Avoid hunching or ducking during impact as they may make injuries worse
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When involved in a head on collision, the most important step to take immediately following the accident is to seek medical attention. Unfortunately, head on collisions tend to be devastating and leave victims with severe injuries. These types of car accidents not only leave victims injured but also typically leave one or both vehicles involved completely totaled leaving a large value of damages. In order to ensure you are compensated the highest amount you must provide the necessary information. Many factors go into determining the value of your settlement such as:

  • Property damage
  • Personal injuries
  • Loss of wages
  • Medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of ability to perform everyday tasks
  • If death occurs, the family involved can receive compensation for funeral costs.

Some real life examples of settlement values for a head on collision include:

  • $950,000- victim suffered hip, spine and humerus fractures requiring surgical repair.
  • $415,370- victim was a minor and played competitively in lacrosse. She suffered fractures to her tibia and fibula and lost her scholarship to play lacrosse in college.
  • $96,789- victim suffered a fractured ankle requiring 2 screws to repair.
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Yes, among other injuries. Head-on collisions can indeed cause neck injuries. A front- end collision, otherwise known as a head-on collision, is one of the most devastating types of accidents causing severe injuries and often resulting in death. Other common injuries:

  • Rib fractures

Although seatbelts are useful and can help save lives, they can also be the cause of injuries. The blunt force of a seatbelt of airbag can break ribs, puncture lungs and cause shoulder damage.

  • Whiplash

Head and neck injuries are very common in head-on collisions due to the sudden impact and jerking motion.

  • Traumatic brain injuries

Traumatic brain injuries include concussion, skull fractures, hematoma, hemorrhaging and brain swelling.

  • Spinal cord injuries

Spinal cord injuries include herniated discs, paralysis causing either permanent loss of movement/strength or sensation.

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Unfortunately, head-on collisions typically do not end well. The fatality rate is high due to high speeds from both cars and extreme impact. Depending on the speed the cars are going and the weight of the cars that hit will greatly factor into the victims survival rate. Also, you must factor in safety belts as well as if the air bag deploys. A slower speed will increase your chance of surviving, however, it’s unlikely you can predict and prepare for a collision. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, head-on collisions at speeds under 40mph are feasible to survive. Anything higher will result in death or severe injuries.

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What is the sternum? The sternum is also referred to as the breastbone. It’s the long bone situated in the middle of the chest. It associates with the ribs by means of ligament and structures the front of the rib cage, protecting the heart and lungs. The common cost for a broken sternum could run from under $500 for a minor break that requires no hospitalization, and up to $8,000 or are other injuries sustained due to the broken sternum. Some other injuries include heart or lung wounds, and those type of injuries require hospitalization which is costly. Settlements for a fractured sternum differ due to multiple variables such as medical bills, recovery time and future medical bills. Some examples of settlements for a fractures sternum are:

  • Plaintiff awarded $100,000 in compensation for fractured sternum due to a t-bone collision.
  • Plaintiff awarded $1,300,000 in a bike and trucking accident causing broken left arm and sternum fracture.
  • Plaintiff awarded $625,000 for fractured jaw, sternum, arms and legs.
  • Plaintiff awarded $1,011,000 for crushed trachea, fractured sternum and head injuries struck in a head-on collision.
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When you are the passenger in the car no matter whom the driver is the responsibility will always fall on the person behind the wheel in the case of an accident. A passenger cannot control what the drivers next move might be therefore, hold no responsibility for the outcome of the accident even if the driver of their car was to be found liable. As a passenger, you have laws to follow as well such as wearing a seatbelt while the car is in motion and making sure you are not distracting the driver. On the off chance that you are a passenger that is associated with a mishap, it’s possible that you can recoup the greater part of your expenses, including:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages during recovery time
  • Future medical expenses such as rehab or therapy
  • Pain and suffering

As a passenger, you have the same rights regardless of which driver caused the mishap.

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Whenever you have been in an accident you have the option to handle your own claim personally or hire an attorney. Smaller claims such as soft tissue injuries don’t require the contribution of attorneys and sometimes leave you with little settlement money after you’ve paid the attorney fees. However, head-on car accident injuries are typically hard and traumatic, almost always ending up in court with a much larger settlement amount than a soft tissue settlement. These hard injury claims are generally best taken care of by an accomplished personal injury attorney.

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There is a wide range of components that may make a head-on crash occur. Unpopulated, dark roads are a common location for a head-on accident however, any type of road without a center divider or median make head-on collisions a recognizable frequent location. Although street conditions are a large factor in where head-on accidents occur, other components for the cause of the crash such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Distracted driving
  • Driving under the influence
  • Disobeying the rules of the road
  • Weather condition
  • Speeding
  • Improper passing
  • Mechanical error

So, how do you determine who the at-fault party is? When a driver fails to follow the rules of the road and jeopardizes the safety and wellbeing of others resulting in property damage or injury, they are to be determined liable for the accident.

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A head-on collision is often referred to as a frontal crash. Extreme physical trauma is common in head-on collisions and is often fatal due to the high speeds involved and the sudden impact of the crash. This trauma can result in broken bones, severe lacerations, burns, or internal injuries. By no means should such wrecks happen unless one, or both, drivers are acting carelessly in the driver’s seat.

Common Head On Collision Injuries:

Like any car accident, head-on crashes can lead to serious injuries. The high speeds in opposite directions in these accidents can cause especially devastating accident injuries:

  • Brain trauma
  • Broken bones
  • Concussions
  • Skull fractions
  • Herniated disc
  • Facial injuries including serious cuts and bruises
  • Loss of limbs
  • Organ damage
  • Damage to your nervous system
  • Whiplash
  • Spinal cord injuries

Traumatic brain injuries are typically the result of an extreme blow to the head and are common in head-on collisions. Depending on the severity of the impact, the TBI (traumatic brain injury) symptoms may be as minor as headache and nausea or in extreme cases loss of consciousness or even result in death. Victims of a TBI may experience symptoms for as little as a few days and some may never recover.

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Head-on collisions, in regards to an auto accident, are when two cars are driving in opposite directions and crash their front ends into each other. An example of a head-on collision is when a distracted driver crosses over into oncoming traffic and collides front first into the other vehicle’s front end. These types of accidents can be exceptionally devastating due to the high impact and speed the vehicles are going. Common causes for head-on collisions include:

  • Negligent/distracted driving
  • Poor visibility/poor weather conditions
  • Vehicle malfunction
  • Driving under the influence
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion in regards to road signs
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