Head-on collisions are accidents in which two vehicles hit nose-to-nose. Because of the vehicles’ combined speed, this type of crash results in a higher incidence of fatalities and catastrophic injuries than other types of car accidents. If both cars are traveling 35 miles per hour, the combined force of a head-on collision is equivalent to each car hitting a wall or other fixed object at 70 miles per hour. Even with all of the airbags, anti-buckle hoods, strong metal frames, and other safety features in modern vehicles, vehicle occupants can suffer catastrophic injuries. If you have been in a head-on wreck, contact The Law Offices of George Salinas to learn about your legal options.
Head-On Collision Causes
In some cases, head-on auto crashes are caused by a driver’s loss of control due to a mechanical failure in the car’s power steering, suspension, or brakes. However, in most cases, head-on collisions are due to a driver’s negligence.
Negligent actions may include driving under the influence, distracted driving, or falling asleep at the wheel. It just takes a second for a driver to accidentally leave their lane while they look at their phone, look in the mirror to put on makeup, or even to look down at the food they are eating while they are driving. Driving while tired can also lead to a driver falling asleep and drifting out of their lane and into oncoming traffic. In some cases, a tired driver who caused a head-on collision never wakes up and never goes home.
Other reasons a driver may be on the wrong side of the road include trying to avoid a pedestrian walking in the road, trying to avoid an animal or object in the road, trying to miss an icy patch or even taking a corner so fast that the velocity of the vehicle carries it into the outside lane.
The person who is at fault and therefore legally liable for an accident is the one who pays for any damage the accident causes, whether through their insurance company or directly to the other people involved. However, it is sometimes difficult to establish fault in a head-on crash, especially if both vehicles end up off the road.
Your accident attorney may have to retain the services of an investigator to help determine who was at fault in the accident and whether you were partially at fault. Even if the police report states that you were at fault, you may be able to prove that you were not responsible and therefore you are not required to pay for damages the accident caused. The police write up their reports based on what they see—physical evidence at the scene—and take witness statements into account. However, if you and the other driver are the only witnesses, it could end up being a “he said, she said” situation. If this is the case, you should always retain an accident attorney.
Accident Statistics in Texas and the United States
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2018, 36,750 people died in all types of vehicle accidents throughout the United States. That is the equivalent of 1.14 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.
In Texas, according to the Department of Transportation, accidents were more likely than average to result in a fatality, with 1.29 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2018. Additionally, 14,908 people suffered serious injuries in 12,161 automobile crashes. Just under 55 percent of these wrecks were in rural areas of the state. 548 people were killed in head-on crashes throughout the state.
Also according to the Department of Transportation, in Austin, of the 15,365 crashes that happened during 2018, 66 crashes resulted in 67 fatalities. The Department of Transportation estimates that 15,365 wrecks resulted in 4,386 serious injuries. San Antonio saw 42,043 crashes in 2018, of which 135 led to 139 fatalities. The Department of Transportation estimates that 3,631 crashes resulted in serious injuries.
Working With Insurance Companies
You may be tempted to avoid attorneys’ fees and costs and negotiate a settlement with the insurance company on your own. However, insurance companies are in business to make money, which means that they are going to offer you the least amount possible. When you retain an attorney, the insurance company knows that there’s a good chance that you’ll go to trial if they don’t offer you a fair amount of compensation.
If you retain an attorney, you are likely to get more compensation than if you attempt to negotiate on your own. Additionally, if the insurance company refuses to come to a fair settlement, an attorney can take your case to court, which insurance companies try to avoid because it costs them more money.
In some cases, insurance policy limits are not high enough to pay what you might be entitled to. In this case, your matter does go to court so that your attorney can sue other responsible parties whom the court may order to pay the difference between what you are entitled to and what the insurance company will pay. For example, if the accident caused you to have permanent injuries that require medical care for the rest of your life, a $100,000 policy is not going to cover all of your needs.
Additionally, in a situation where the other driver’s actions were grossly negligent, a smaller insurance policy generally will not cover medical costs, lost wages, inconvenience, pain and suffering, and punitive damages. Punitive damages are only awarded when the at-fault party was grossly negligent and can run over a million dollars on top of compensation for other damages.
Because of the types of injuries you could suffer in a head-on collision, including those that may not show up for a day or more, you should always consult a medical professional to get thoroughly checked out as soon as possible after an accident, and you should always retain a vehicle accident attorney to help you with your case.
A head-on wreck is complicated in that the resulting injuries are often long-term or permanent and, if a commercial vehicle is involved, you may be dealing with more than one insurance company. Contact a Texas vehicle accident attorney if you have been injured or lost a loved one in a head-on vehicle accident.