Head-on collisions happen when two cars driving in opposite directions crash into each other. Although they are rare, they can be devastating for both parties, and they may even result in one or more wrongful deaths. They may happen because of a mistake, such as one driver driving on the wrong side of the road. They may also happen because of drunk driving, distracted driving, or brake failure. If you ever see a vehicle coming straight towards your vehicle, you should do anything you can to avoid the head-on collision, even if it means you have to drive off the road.
If you are involved in a head-on crash, you will have to show negligence or recklessness on the part of the other driver in order to recover. To prove negligence, you will have to show the other driver's duty of care, a breach of the duty, causation, and damages. Generally, all drivers owe other drivers a duty of due care to avoid foreseeable risks of injury. Choosing to drive drunk or while very fatigued is likely to be considered a breach of duty because it means you are more likely to make mistakes, such as driving the wrong way on a one-way road or swerving into oncoming traffic.
Suing after a Head-On Collision
It can be difficult to know who was responsible for a head-on crash, since the impact may send both cars in different directions, putting them in different positions than they were in at the time of impact. A forensic engineer or accident reconstruction specialist may be able to figure out who was at fault or what happened based on skid marks on the road. This makes it crucial to retain a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after an accident so that all evidence of the head-on collision can be documented.
What if it appears that both you and the other driver were at fault? In that case, you may both bring personal injury claims against each other to sort out who is more responsible for the crash. Sometimes your insurance companies or attorneys will be able to negotiate a settlement. If the case goes to a jury, the jury will apportion fault between you and the other driver. Whether you can actually recover when you are partly to blame depends on whether your state follows a doctrine of comparative negligence or contributory negligence. In contributory negligence states, you cannot recover if you are at all at fault for the head-on collision.
Some of the devastating injuries that arise after a head-on crash are brain trauma, paralysis, multiple broken bones, and disfigurement. If your injuries are severe, you may need to change your job. When the other party is at fault, you may be able to recover economic and noneconomic damages for losses such as past and future medical bills, past and future lost wages, property damage, household services, and pain and suffering. If a family member is killed in a head-on collision, you may be able to sue for wrongful death.
Wrongful Death As a Result of a Head-On Collision
Although head-on crashes represent only 2% of car accidents in the United States, they account for 10% of crash-related deaths in the nation. Close family members and those who are dependent on a decedent may recover for wrongful death if someone other than the decedent was at fault for a head-on crash. Damages that may be recovered include funeral expenses, out-of-pocket costs, and loss of consortium.
The laws surrounding who is able to sue for wrongful death differ from state to state. Usually, however, a surviving spouse is the first in line to be able to bring a wrongful death lawsuit when the decedent is an adult. If the decedent is a minor, his or her parents will be first in line.