Who is at fault in a head-on collision? Head-on collisions are the most dangerous types of motor vehicle accidents that happen in Pennsylvania. Because both vehicles are traveling toward each other at the time of the impact, the physical forces that are released are much more severe and are much likelier to cause fatalities and catastrophic injuries. After a head-on collision has occurred, determining who was at fault is critical. Liability in this type of collision depends on determining whether one or both drivers were negligent. In a head-on collision, negligence might include drunk driving, failing to yield, distracted driving, drowsy driving, or other similar actions. Drivers who are at fault for a head-on collision may be liable to any injured victims and the families of people who are killed. If the at-fault driver is killed in the crash, his or her estate will be liable. At DiCindio Law, we understand the devastation that head-on collisions frequently cause and work aggressively to advocate for our clients.
What is fault in a head-on accident?
Fault in a head-on accident is determined by looking at the actions of both drivers to determine if either or both were negligent. In an accident, negligence can happen in multiple ways and can depend on whether either driver was engaging in the following types of poor driving behavior:
- Distracted driving
- Inattentive driving
- Drunk or drugged driving
- Unsafe passing
- Driving an unsafe vehicle
- Aggressive driving
- Failing to yield
Drivers who are at fault in causing an accident are generally liable to pay damages to the victims. In some cases, a jury will determine that one driver was negligent and is solely responsible for paying damages. In others, the jury might determine that both parties shared responsibility. In that situation, the plaintiff will still be able to recover damages as long as his or her degree of fault is less than that of the defendant.
Damages in a head-on accident claim
People who are injured in a head-on accident and the families of people who are killed may be entitled to recover damages from the at-fault driver’s insurance company by filing personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits. Through a lawsuit, the plaintiffs might recover compensatory damages for their economic and non-economic losses. Some of the types of damages that might be available include the following:
- Past and future medical costs
- Rehabilitation costs
- Wage losses
- Future reduction in the ability to earn an income
- Burial and funeral expenses in wrongful death claims
- Lost inheritance rights in wrongful death claims
- Property losses
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- Loss of the enjoyment of life
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Loss of consortium and guidance
Some head-on collisions might also allow plaintiffs to seek punitive damages. These are damages that are designed to punish defendants for their wrongful conduct and are only available in situations in which the defendants acted in especially egregious ways.
Determining fault in a head-on collision
As previously mentioned, fault in a head-on collision is based on negligence. To prevail in a claim, a plaintiff must prove the following elements:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff.
- The defendant’s actions violated the duty of care.
- The violation of the duty of care was a direct or proximate cause of the plaintiff’s accident and injuries.
- The plaintiff suffered actual harm as a result.
All drivers have a duty of care to operate their vehicles safely and reasonably. This makes proving the duty existed fairly simple. Demonstrating that the driver breached the duty of care means showing that the driver engaged in some type of action that fell below the standard of care. For example, a driver who violated a traffic law such as pulling out to pass up a hill just before colliding head-on into another vehicle cresting the hill could be shown to have violated the duty of care. After proving the first two elements, a plaintiff will have to show that the violation of the duty of care directly or proximately caused the accident and the injuries. Finally, the plaintiff will have to prove damages to recover compensation in a lawsuit.
Injuries in a head-on collision
Head-on accidents cause the greatest number of fatalities out of the different types of motor vehicle accidents. They also cause a great number of catastrophic injuries. Some of the types of injuries that commonly occur in head-on collisions include the following:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Paraplegia or quadriplegia
- Permanent disabilities
- Organ damage
- Multiple fractures
- Burn injuries
- Permanent scarring and disfigurement
Why it is important to hire an attorney after a head-on collision
Many people wrongly believe that their insurance companies will take care of everything for them after they are seriously injured in head-on collisions. However, insurance companies are in business to make profits. One of the ways that they can increase their profits is by minimizing the amounts that they have to pay in claims. In head-on collisions, the medical expenses are frequently substantial because of the severity of the injuries. This means that large amounts of money might be involved in the claims. Insurance companies aggressively fight against claims that involve a substantial sum of money.
When you hire an experienced car accident lawyer after being injured in a head-on collision, you will have someone who understands the tactics that insurance companies commonly use to minimize liability. Your attorney can advocate on your behalf and deal with all of the aspects of your claim so that you can concentrate on your recovery.
If you are contacted by the at-fault driver’s insurance company, you should not agree to give a statement or to sign any documents that might be sent to you. Instead, simply tell the company that you want to talk to an attorney before you will discuss or sign anything. Your lawyer can take over the communication with the company for you. To schedule a free consultation with DiCindio Law, call us today at 610.430.3535.