Head on collision facts: A head on collision in a car accident is usually one of the most severe types of collisions that results in a considerable chance of injuries to the persons involved as well as the chance of damage. This also leads to significant financial losses, and therefore, it becomes important to understand what exactly head-on collision entails, and how to seek compensation for a collision if you have been a part of one. This article attempts to enumerate the various facets involved in a head on collision, and present a guide to those who have been involved in one about their options going forward, and how they can seek fair compensation for the damages suffered.
Head on Collision Facts
The chances of severe injuries or fatalities in head on collisions are much higher than any other type of accident. It usually occurs when two cars hit the front of each other, and usually with high impact. The crash results in damage to both the cars involved in the collision, as well as injuries to the passengers. Usually, most head on collisions are cost by irregular or irresponsible lane changing practices. As per the data of the NHTSA, of all the causes that lead to a head on collision, the most common factor is improper changing of lanes.
Who is at fault?
When it comes to determining who has to pay compensation, it is first necessary to determine which party was negligent and at fault. This determination becomes even more important in a scenario such as a high impact car crash as the potential consequences of the crash (both in terms of damage to human beings as well as material objects) are pretty severe.
It is obvious that the driver who did not follow traffic rules properly is more likely to be deemed the “at-fault” party when it comes to a car accident, but it is not always so cut and dry. It is possible in some circumstances that both the vehicles involved in the accident contribute to the cause of the accident. However, if only one party has violated traffic rules that led to the accident, it is sufficiently clear that the violating party will be determined to be at fault.
Four Common causes of head-on collisions
Given that head-on collisions are extremely severe, it helps to educate oneself about what the most common causes of such accidents are, and to be watchful while on the road to prevent it from occurring.
- Not reading the road: There are multiple road signs (including speed limits) that are displayed on the road to ensure proper road etiquette and also to ensure the safety of those on the road. In fact, one of the requirements to qualify for a driving license is to be able to identify and distinguish the signs displayed on the road. A responsible driver not just drives, but also reads the road consciously. This not only means keeping a watch for the oncoming traffic and your other co-drivers, but also keeping a lookout for any signs or speed limits that you have to keep track of. For instance, certain bends and turns in the road can be more accident prone than other zones, and it is important to be conscious of aspects like those to prevent accidents.
- Distraction: Another huge contributing factor that can lead to accidents is being distracted. Irrespective of what the source of the distraction is – whether it is your phone, a cup of coffee that you are drinking while driving, listening to music, or chatting with your co-passengers, not being sufficiently focussed on the road can also lead to accidents. It is important to pay attention to the road and be focussed on your driving. It has been demonstrated in numerous cases that being on the phone or generally distracted while driving has led to numerous preventable accidents.
- Tiredness: While people are conscious to not drive under the influence, what a lot of people fail to remember that driving while tired can also be equally catastrophic. There have been situations where a person falling asleep behind the wheels has led to severe accidents. If you find yourself feeling sleepy or tired to the point where you are unable to focus on your driving, it is better for you to either let someone else take over driving from you, or to park at a safe location and take rest before resuming on your journey. This is even more important if you tend to travel a lot at night, since the lack of sunlight and fatigue can be a deadly combination.
- Drunk driving: DUI or Driving under the Influence is one of the biggest causes of preventable motor accidents. When you are under the influence of a substance such as alcohol or any other drug, your reflexes and impulses are severely impaired. It is extremely difficult for a person under the influence of alcohol or any other psychotropic substance to be able to control their vehicle effectively and properly. Drunk driving cannot be excused and must be prevented.
The role of an attorney that specializes in car accident cases will be to get you the requisite compensation that you are entitled to, in case of an accident. However, if you have been determined to be the at fault party, it works the same way and you may be liable to pay compensation to the aggrieved parties in that case.
Some Common injuries that occur due to head on collisions
As stated above, head on collisions are extremely severe and usually have a heavy toll on both the people involved, as well as property. The severity of the accident increases if the speed at which the collision occurred was high. Here are some of the most common injuries associated with head on collisions:
- Brain Trauma: Per the reports of the APA or the American Psychological Association, one of the likely consequences of a head-on collision is brain trauma. Another potential consequence could be the development of PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, which may exist throughout the lifetime of the individual if left untreated. Concussions and clots, which may not be visibly apparent right after the accident, are also potential consequences of head-on collisions. Sometimes, if brain damage is significant, it can also lead to long term paralysis and nerve damage. Brain trauma as a result of an accident can affect a person not just physiologically, but also psychologically. Personality changes, difficulties in performing everyday tasks, difficulties in concentration, etc. have all been witnessed in victims of head on collisions.
- Whiplash: Depending on how you are seated, the chances of whiplash are pretty significant in the case of a head on collision. This is because of the jerky, sudden, and jolting movements that a car undergoes during an accident. The possibility of whiplash occurring are pretty high, since the potential for damage to the ligaments, tendons, and muscles of the neck and the back is high as well. Even if the passenger is wearing a seatbelt, the sudden and rough movements of the car usually cause the body to take a large amount of stress and impact, and lead to whiplash. Apart from the immediate consequences of an whiplash injury, there are long term consequences as well. Many people with whiplash report numbness, eye problems such as blurred visions, and painful back spasms.
- Spinal cord injuries: Your back is what supports the rest of your body, and in an accident, there are two major ways that your spinal cord may be affected. One, it is possible that the spinal cord takes a large amount of impact without anything to cushion the impact and prevent injury. Secondly, the back may bend or twist, leading to damage to the spinal cord. Vertebrata may break or get fractured, and the discs of the spine may also move out of alignment or get compressed. A lot of people who have been involved in head on collisions suffer significant spinal cord injuries. Compression of the spinal cord in extreme cases can lead to temporary or long term paralysis. Other consequences of a spinal cord injury may be nerve damage, chronic pain, and an inability to perform tasks as before due to the lack of flexibility and range of motion. For someone who has suffered a spinal cord injury in an accident, it may be difficult to get back to the normal processes of life without rehabilitation and physiotherapy. If you notice any injury to the lower parts of your body, it is ideal to seek treatment as soon as possible to prevent slow degeneration.
- Brain injuries: Another unfortunate consequence of a head-on collision are brain injuries. Most commonly, impact to the skull is from hitting either the airbag (if the car has one, and it deploys) or the steering wheel. In some cases, if there is a significant sideways impact, the skull may also get fractured against the frame of the car, or against the window of the car in some extreme cases. For brain injuries, it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible as it could potentially be fatal.
- Blunt force trauma: Blunt force trauma, as the name suggests, is trauma caused by blunt objects exerting a high amount of pressure or force. In a car, blunt force trauma injuries are usually caused either due to the airbag deploying, or due to the seatbelt. The seatbelt causes the driver to be pushed back to the seat, against the force that is applied externally – the amount of force that the body withstands in such a scenario is pretty significant, and therefore leads to injuries. While modern airbags are designed to prevent injuries, the impact of them deploying in an accident can lead to injuries as well. It is for this reason that it is crucial to wear a seatbelt, because without it, your body can even be thrown out of the vehicle due to the amount of force exerted.
- Fractured facial bones: Due to the impact that the car undergoes, the person involved in a head-on collision may suffer injuries to their facial bones. The sockets of the eyes, jawbones, cheeks, etc. may be affected. In some scenarios, injuries like this necessitate the involvement of plastic surgery to not just fix the bones to ensure that they heal, but also to main the aesthetic appearance of the person in the accident.
What to do if you have been injured due to a head on collision
If you are not the party at fault, but have been injured of suffered damages due to the negligence or fault of another driver, you are entitled to claim compensation from those who have contributed to the accident. To file a claim or to sue the people involved, it is important that you follow certain steps to get a favourable judgement. Here are some of the steps that you can take to ensure that you are compensated to the fullest extent possible, if you have been a victim of a head on collision.
File a police report
The first and the most important thing that a person should do if they have been a victim of a head on collision is to file a police report. While the police usually reaches the scene to investigate the accident and to clear the road in the case of a head on collision, it is better for you to independently file a report as well. If you find yourself incapacitated or unable to immediately file a report yourself, get a family member or a trusted person to do it for you. Usually, the police write up the incident and record facts of the case, and include important evidence such as photographs and testimonies of witnesses’. This can be tremendously helpful in case you want to file a case for compensation.
A picture is worth a thousand words in every circumstance, and in this one as well. Everyone today has a smartphone – so if you have been involved in an accident and are able to move (or you are not significantly injured), ensure that you take pictures of the surroundings to present your case better. The driver who is at fault may try and pin the blame on you, and taking pictures can ensure that you can represent your side in the best way possible. Another thing that you could consider doing is to get a dashcam. The footage of a dashcam can be tremendously invaluable in the unfortunate scenario of an accident.
Statements from witnesses
Most likely, if you have been in a head on collision, you will be injured and unable to walk around and gather evidence immediately post the accident. In such a scenario, the statement of witnesses during the time of the accident can be extremely helpful. Not only can the witnesses provide a snapshot of the events that transpired, but they can also provide significant backing to your case. Ensure that you follow-up, once you can, to check if the witness statements are written and recorded. It is because only if the statements are written and recorded, they will be accepted as documents with evidentiary value in courts.
Another important and significant document that you will have to keep with you in case you are claiming compensation is your medical report. The injuries that occur after an accident are intricate and complex, and may be either visibly apparent or may not be visible either. However, even with some invisible injuries (such as a concussion), the consequences can be disastrous. Therefore, ensure that you get thoroughly checked up, file all your medical documents neatly, and keep the bills safe. It is the best way to ensure that you can claim compensation for medical expenses as well.
Hire a personal injury attorney
A personal injury attorney is an attorney that specifically specializes in personal injury cases, such as those arising from a head on collision. While a lot of people tend to think that they can handle the case themselves, the legal process can be daunting, and that combined with the stress of recovery and mounting medical expenses can be a cumbersome process. By hiring an attorney, you can ensure that at least the legal portion of the struggle can be delegated to someone with both the knowledge and the experiences of handling cases like yours. If you play to sue the at fault party in court, your chances of a favourable outcome are significantly higher if you hire legal representation. This is because they not just know the law well, but also to present the facts of your case in a manner that will be in consonance with the law.
So these are the head on collision facts and if you find yourself a victim of a head on collision, remember to take the steps mentioned above, and also to hire a personal injury attorney if you can afford it. Also ensure that you take steps to seek compensation in a timebound manner, and do not allow the process to go through any inordinate delays.