Learn what to expect from an average settlement for a head on collision claim.
Head on collisions typically are serious and often fatal accidents. A head-on collision often is referred to as a frontal crash, and the NHTSA reports that these accidents constitute 13% of all rural, fatal crashes.
This article describes basic information about head on accidents, including the average settlement for a head on collision, causes of these accidents, and the types of head on collision injuries.
Common Reasons for Head On Collisions
Head on collisions happen when the front of one motor vehicle slams into the front of another, or a stationary object. The high amount of impact forces in a head on collision often occurs when a vehicle going in one direction improperly enters a lane in the opposite direction, leading to a very serious accident. When two vehicles are going in the opposite direction at 60 or 70 MPH, the accident is catastrophic, and the damages in these accidents are often severe. Below are the most common reasons for these serious accidents:
- Distracted driving: It is becoming more common today for drivers to be distracted by smart phones while driving. The urge to check social media and to text while driving often is a deadly one. Other common reasons for distracted driving are adjusting the radio, talking to passengers, eating and drinking.
- Fatigued driving: Many fatal head on collisions happen at night when drivers are driving beyond their physical limits. Tired drivers can be just as dangerous as drunk drivers.
- Driving too fast for conditions: When weather and/or visibility deteriorates, the driver must slow down to maintain control of the vehicle.
- DWI: Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is the most common factor for head on crashes.
- Ignoring stop signs and red lights: All drivers are responsible for following all traffic laws; when they don’t, terrible head on crashes can occur.
All of situations involve negligence on the part of the driver, and it is possible to file an accident claim or personal injury lawsuit to recover damages.
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
- Serious cuts and bruises
- Organ damage
Also, head-on collisions can cause major emotional and mental trauma. The American Psychological Association states that car accidents are the major cause of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in the US. Some of the symptoms of mental and emotional trauma include:
- Reliving the accident in flashbacks and nightmares
- Feelings of depression and anxiety
- Avoiding people and places that remind you of the crash
- Forgetting accident details
- Difficulty concentrating
For these serious accident injuries, you could be entitled to compensation. Below is more information.
Head-On Accident Personal Injury Compensation
If you or a loved one has been hurt in a head on collision, you will need to collect evidence to ensure that you receive compensation for these types of damages:
- Past, current and future medical costs
- Past, current and future lost wages
- All out of pocket expenses, including co-pays and funeral costs
- Physical and mental suffering
An attorney specializing in personal injury claims can easily help you to arrive at a rough settlement figure for your head-on accident after adding up all of your accident damages outlined above.
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 proximate, 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.
Evidence Required to Prove Negligence
It is up to you and your attorney to prove that the other driver is responsible for your head-on accident injuries.
First, it is important to collect evidence from the accident scene as soon as possible. If you have been hospitalized, you should try to find a trusted person to collect evidence on your behalf. Road crews will clear the accident from the road within a few hours. After the accident scene has been altered, very valuable evidence may be lost.
It is important to act fact. The cars should not even be moved, unless their location creates a dangerous situation for other motorists. Wait for the police. Below is critical evidence needed to prove negligence:
- Police report: A head-on collision almost always needs police and fire department response. The police will conduct an analysis of the scene, and will talk to witnesses, look for and measure skid marks, and will note weather at the time of the accident. They may also take photographs. Most critically, they will likely write in the police report the likely person who caused the accident. If the other driver is cited, the police will state it in the police report. Citations for speeding, DWI, failure to yield and unsafe passing are very important. Be sure that you get a copy of the report or its service number so you can request it later.
- Pictures: Take photos of everything about the accident scene. Use a cell phone or digital camera if you can. Take photos of the cars as they are after the crash and be careful to take pictures of the point of impact. Wide angle and close up shots are critical to establish fault. Also take pictures of traffic signals, trees, skid marks, debris in the road, lane dividers, bottles of alcohol and anything else that looks important. Also photograph the driver and any pedestrians and passengers. If the police gives a field sobriety test to the other driver, record it with your camera.
- Witness statements: Jot down the names and contact information for every witness. Ask each witness what they saw, especially if they believe the other driver was to blame. Witnesses may have seen the other driver nodding off at the wheel or texting. They may have also heard the driver admit something that indicates he was negligent.
- Medical records: Complete medical records showing your accident injuries are important. The burden of proof is not just to show the negligence of the other driver. It also is to show that his negligent behavior was the cause of your accident injuries. To show this, it is critical for the medical records to make it clear that the head-on accident caused your injuries. If the medical records do not conclusively state that the accident caused your injuries, the insurance adjuster might argue that the new injuries were caused by a pre-existing condition. This could cost you big when it comes to a settlement or verdict. Ask the doctor to describe the medical treatments you need today and the care you will need in the future to recover from the accident.
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.
Average Settlement For Head On Collision
All head on collision accident claims are different. However, below are examples of real head on collision settlements in the recent past:
- $26 million: A Florida man suffered a permanent brain injury involving a head-on crash with a commercial truck.
- $70,000: The defendant crossed the median and struck a driver head on. The negligent driver fell asleep at the wheel. The woman was discharged from the hospital without treatment, but she later was diagnosed with a concussion.
- $217,000: Ohio man was hit head-on by a drunk driver, and suffered fractures, abrasions and contusions. Insurance company tried to persuade the client to settle without an attorney. Attorney proceeded with a bad-faith claim; initial settlement offer was doubled.
- $100,000: Ohio woman was driving to work and was hit head on. Both of her legs were broken; case was settled for insurance policy limits.
Head On Collision
Most head-on collision cases involve hard injuries that require substantial recovery time and expense. These cases generally are best handled with a personal injury attorney. Even if the attorney is compensated with a 1/3 contingency fee, the injured party typically will see a verdict or settlement higher than if he had handled the case alone.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What injuries can occur in a head-on car accident?
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
- Skull fractions
- Herniated disc
- Facial injuries including serious cuts and bruises
- Loss of limbs
- Organ damage
- Damage to your nervous system
- 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.
How do you determine who is at fault in a head-on car accident?
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:
- Distracted driving
- Driving under the influence
- Disobeying the rules of the road
- Weather condition
- 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.
Do I need an attorney to represent me in a head-on car accident?
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.
What are my legal rights as a passenger in a head-on car accident?
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.