When it comes to car accidents, there are none more devastating and life-threatening than head-on collisions. To quickly define a head-on collision, it is an auto accident where two cars, driving in opposite directions from one another, collide. While these accidents are much rarer than your typical fender bender, they are much more dangerous. In fact, head on collisions account for only 2% of all car crashes reported, yet they account for 10% of all driving deaths!
Naturally, we try and avoid head-on collisions as best we can and most significant roadways include barriers to prevent opposite sites of traffic from running into one another. It is impossible to prevent these tragic accidents completely. We can’t always protect ourselves from the mistakes of other drivers, especially when they get behind the wheel drunk or are driving distracted.
After a head-on collision, the first step is to determine who was responsible for the accident. Head on collisions can happen quickly, as with most disasters, which can make it difficult to know who is at fault. Not to mention, brain trauma is a common injury caused by these dangerous accidents; you may not even be able to remember the accident! Death, as demonstrated in the above statistic, is also an unfortunately ordinary matter in head-on collision accidents. If you are seeking damages for a deceased family member, they aren’t there to provide their side of the story.
In many cases, the at-fault party will be the one that crossed the middle divider of the road and came into the oncoming lane of traffic. Unfortunately, the carnage that immediately follows a head-on collision can send both vehicles flying in any number of directions. You may not be able to tell who was driving where directly. Some cases have to rely on the help of an accident reconstruction specialist to study the crash scene and recreate what happened at the time of the collision. This can provide critical evidence into who was indeed at fault and what sort of behaviors lead to the accident.
What If Both Drivers Are At Fault?
Not every head-on collision accident has a clear-cut, at-fault party. In some cases, both drivers and their actions played some role in the cause of the crash. In these cases, both parties typically file personal injury claims against one another. From there, each driver’s insurance company or personal injury lawyer will try and settle the accident.
If a settlement can’t be reached, the case could go to court. There, a jury will weigh in and decide how to split the responsibility for the accident between the two parties. Pennsylvania follows comparative negligence lawsfor these situations. Essentially, comparative negligence means that in cases where both parties are at fault, damages can be recovered by the party that is lessat-fault. This is what the jury will weigh in on.
Once it is determined who caused the head-on collision, the next step is to showcase how the responsible driver acted negligently and how those poor actions lead to the head-on collision. In car accident cases, negligence is often proved by showcasing how the other driver breached the “duty of care” associated with operating a motor vehicle.
The duty of care is primarily the innate responsibility you assume when operating your car. We’re all responsible for driving in a safe, careful manner. Traffic laws dictate a lot of our duty of care as drivers. A driver that is excessively speeding or operating their vehicle drunk or impaired is breaching this assumed duty of care because they aren’t safely conducting themselves on the roadways. A lawyer could also argue that an at-fault driver wasn’t paying close enough attention to the road and that lack of care was a breach of their duty as a driver.
An essential element of proving negligence is showcasing howthat poor behavior caused the accident. In other words, you can’t just declare that the other driver was speeding, you also have to demonstrate how that excessive speed contributed to the accident. Your chosen head-on collision attorney will try and supply evidence that supports the fact that the other driver’s actions had a direct impact on the outcome of the accident and that a safe driver upholding their duty of care would not have acted in that way.
The final component of your head on collision accident claim is equating how the accident has caused you financial loss (and how much). Damages in head-on collisions can be extremely severe because of the often devastating and even fatal nature of these accidents. In Philadelphia, you can seek compensation for the following types of damages and losses:
- Property damage: the damage that your vehicle and other property sustained in the accident
- Medical expenses: the cost of your hospital bills and required treatment for injuries caused by the head-on collision
- Loss of wages: if your injuries kept you from working, you could recover damages for the loss of income you suffered as a result
- Pain and suffering: in some cases, you may be able to recover additional costs for the emotional and physical distress that you’ve experienced as a result of the accident
- Punitive damages: if the at-fault driver acted extraordinarily negligent (like driving intoxicated or exceptionally recklessly), they might be assessed additional damages meant to punish them for their poor judgment and behaviors; punitive damages cannot exceed twice the cost of your combined property damage, medical expenses and loss of wages
Many of these damages are easy to assess. Your loss of wages, medical expenses, and property damages can also easily be calculated. Punitive and pain and suffering damages, however, will often be assessed by a jury and are significantly impacted by your car accident attorney’s ability to provide substantial evidence to support your case and denounce the at-fault party.
Wrongful Death From Head On Collision Accidents
Given the severity of head-on collisions, death is an unfortunately common component. In these situations, a close family member can recover damages for the death of their relative. This is typically a spouse or parent (if the deceased is a minor). There is an opportunity also to recover damages to cover funeral costs and loss of consortium (if the deceased was someone’s spouse). Typically, pain and suffering damages are much higher in cases involving wrongful death.
Choosing the Right Car Accident Attorney
As you can see, there are many steps and considerations to think about in head-on collision cases. Damages caused from these incidents are usually high because these accidents can be so devastating. You want to be certain that you recover all of the costs you are owed, primarily to cover your medical expenses and pain and suffering.
With an experienced Philly car accident attorney specializing in head-on collisions, you’ll have a much easier time navigating each stage of your case. Not to mention, if the other party tries to counter-claim or reduce the damages you’ve proposed, then your head on collision attorney will be there to protect you from missing out on the potentially significant portion of the compensation you are rightfully owed.
Your chosen legal solution will take a lot of the burden off of you, as far as collecting evidence, answering questions and performing the necessary research to win your case. They will be pivotable in not only proving the other driver’s negligence and responsibility for the accident but also correctly assessing all of your damages so that you can receive the most amount of compensation for your injuries and expenses.
If you or a family member have been involved in a head-on collision accident, you do not want to delay. The more time you and your lawyer have to acquire evidence and build your case, the more damages you’ll be able to recover.