A head-on collision occurs when two cars approaching from opposite directions make direct contact with each other. Head-on collisions are the least likely type of accident to occur, but also the most deadly. According to the Insurance Information Institute, head-on collisions only make up 2% of crashes, yet account for more than 10% of auto accident fatalities. That’s why California Vehicle Code Section 21651 makes it illegal to drive on the wrong side of the road, which is an attempt to prevent these deadly head-on collisions from happening. Being the most severe type of accident there is, head-on collisions necessitate serious quality legal representation.
If you have recently been involved in a head-on automobile accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact an Orange County head-on collision attorney at the Crockett Law Group to learn about how we can help you maximize your settlement. Call (800) 900-9393 for a free consultation with a personal injury attorney in Orange County.
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Why Are Head-On Collisions So Dangerous?
A head-on collision is so dangerous and deadly because the force of the impact when the vehicles collide is multiplied by the traveling speed of each vehicle. This makes even relatively low-speed impacts turn into major accidents. If two vehicles that are traveling in opposite directions at 25 mph each collide, it’s like slamming into a concrete wall at 50 mph. Needless to say, this is bound to cause serious and catastrophic injuries.
Although safety features of cars have improved, like crumple zones to absorb impact, seatbelts, and airbags, head-on collisions still produce some of the most catastrophic injuries we see. When two vehicles collide head-on with each other, any of the following can happen:
- Vehicular rollover
- Ejection of occupants
- Vehicular fire
- Crushed vehicles requiring extraction of occupants
- Toxic smoke requiring evacuation of areas close by
What Are Common Injuries From Head-On Collisions?
A disproportionate share of head-on collisions as compared with other types of collisions result in fatalities. This is because a motor vehicle will never be able to completely protect its occupants from death in a head-on collision over a certain velocity.
Research conducted by Monash University concluded that there should be a 43 mph speed limit on “roads with possible frontal impacts between cars.” As the speed of cars increases beyond 43 mph, so too does that rate of fatalities in head-on collisions. The problem is that most roads in California, and in Orange County, in particular, allow for speeds above 43 mph.
The speed limit on California multilane freeways is 65 mph, and up to 70 mph in some areas. The speed limit on two-lane highways is generally 55 mph, and the speed limit on city streets is generally 35 mph. We also know that 89 percent of drivers admit to driving faster than the posted speed limit according to a study conducted by Allstate. This means that on any given road in Orange County, California, drivers are probably going faster than the 43 mph limit for survivability recommended by Monash University.
Assuming that you are able to survive a head-on collision, chances are that you will sustain serious injuries. Some of the most severe and catastrophic injuries that I come across involve head-on collisions accidents.
These are some of the most common injuries our firm sees from victims of head-on car accidents in Orange County:
Spinal Cord Injuries
Victims of head-on accidents often sustain fractured vertebrae in their spine. An injury to the C1 or C2 level cervical vertebrae can result in complete paralysis of arms and legs.
Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)
Many victims of head-on collisions sustain some type of head injury, whether it be in the form of a mild concussion or something much more serious like bleeding in their brain.
Multiple Broken Bones
It’s rare that I come across a head-on accident victim that didn’t sustain at least one broken bone, but oftentimes it’s multiple broken bones like 6 or 7. The most common fractures that I see are fractured sternums, fractured ribs, fractured ulna (arm), and fractured tibia/fibula (leg). These injuries are usually caused by the front-end of the car crumpling and the engine compartment being pushed into the passenger area of the car.
Lacerations and Permanent Scarring
Victims typically sustain lacerations from the car crumpling in on them (like the steering column and dash being pushed into their legs), or from glass shattering all over the place. Some of the worst scarring I’ve seen, though, has actually been from the surgeries that are commonly required after this type of accident.
Many of these head-on accident victims necessitate emergency medical services, multiple surgeries, long-term stay at a skilled nursing facility, and in-home care. It’s not uncommon to see medical bills totaling half a million or well over a million dollars. It’s important to hire experienced Orange County,CA, legal representation to ensure you’re being properly compensated for all these medical expenses and the pain and suffering you’ve been enduring.
Who’s At Fault for a Head-On Collision Accident?
The most common way a head-on collision happens is when a driver goes down the wrong side of the road. We have laws prohibiting this movement. For example, California Vehicle Code Section 21460 prohibits driving across double yellow lines, but it still happens from time to time.
Unlike sideswipe accidents where it can be hard to prove who went into whose lane, head-on collisions are generally more straightforward. Not always, but usually. Most of the time it’s as clear-cut as someone driving down the wrong side of the road and that’s hard to dispute. However, sometimes liability can be more complicated when someone makes a left turn or a U-turn, and the cars collide head-on.
The two most common causes of head-on collisions we see in Orange County are:
- Drunk drivers: Let’s face it, most sober drivers aren’t going to be reckless enough to drive head-on into opposing traffic… unless they’re distracted of course.
- Distracted drivers: You can imagine all kinds of distractions that might cause someone to drive into oncoming traffic. For example, someone might reach to grab their cell phone that fell to the floor and accidentally drive into oncoming traffic. Or someone who is texting might not realize the road has curved and now they’re driving into traffic head-on.
If a driver isn’t under the influence or distracted, then chances are they’re either trying to pass traffic or accidentally moved over the yellow line during a curve in the road.
Unfortunately, a lot of times these drivers will have their wits about them and claim the other driver crossed over into traffic, not them. This is where it can be useful to engage the services of a head-on collision lawyer and an accident reconstructionist to prove who caused the accident by looking at points of impact, skid marks, computer modeling, and other tools.
What Compensation Can Be Claimed for a Head-On Collision Accident?
Victims of head-on collisions tend to obtain larger settlements, on average than other accident victims due to the severity of injuries caused by these accidents.
Head-on accident victims in California are entitled to collect compensation for two to three types of damages:
Economic damages, which refers to:
- Past and future medical expenses;
- Past and future lost wages; and
- Out-of-pocket expenses.
Non-economic damages refer to emotional distress and mental suffering, which “includes nervousness, grief, anxiety, worry, shock, humiliation, and indignity as well as physical pain.”
Punitive damages may or may not be available depending on the circumstances of the accident. You have to show that the other driver who caused the accident acted with malice, oppression, or fraud, and that’s tough to do. When punitive damages are actually awarded to a plaintiff in Orange County, which is rare, it’s usually a case that involves a DUI driver.
Call Our Orange County Head-On Collision Attorneys Today
According to the National Center for Statistics & Analysis, head-on crashes are more prevalent in rural areas than in urban areas. Head-on collisions make up 13 percent of rural accident fatalities, whereas it only makes up 7 percent or urban accident fatalities. But regardless of where head-on collisions occur, they still make up a disproportionate share of auto accident fatalities and serious injuries. In other words, these are big claims. Small claims end up in, well, small claims court. Big claims, on the other hand, warrant hiring an attorney.
As head-on accident injury lawyers, we regularly represent the interests of victims who have been treated unfairly by an insurance company. The Crockett Law Group is committed to handling your injury claim from start to finish and will fight to make sure that you receive the money you deserve. If you’ve been injured as a result of a head-on collision, contact the Crockett Law Group to speak with one of our Orange County car accident attorneys at (800) 900-9393.