One of the most devastating types of auto accidents is a head-on accident—when the front ends of two cars traveling toward one another collide. The sheer physics of such a collision mean that the vehicles and their occupants will experience forces far greater than most other kinds of vehicle impact, often with deadly results.
Data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Agency (NHTSA) shows that out of over 11,000 fatal vehicle-on-vehicle accidents in 2014, 2.3 percent of those accidents were head-on; however, head-on collisions account for nearly 10 percent of fatalities. Head-on accidents are extremely dangerous and can happen in many different ways.
Common Causes of Head-On Collisions
There are several reasons that head-on collisions can happen. Many are the result of negligence or poor driving habits that cause one driver to drift from the normal lane of travel and enter oncoming traffic. Some examples of how head-on collisions occur due to negligence include:
- Texting and driving. Distracted driving can create serious problems on roadways, and texting is now a major distracted driving behavior. The NHTSA reports that over 410,000 people were hurt and more than 3,000 killed in 2014 due to distracted driving incidents.
- Falling asleep at the wheel. Almost 850 vehicular fatalities in 2014 were a result of “drowsy driving.” Drowsy drivers can drift into oncoming traffic at high speeds, causing terrible accidents.
- Drunk driving. Almost 10,000 people were killed by drunk drivers in 2014—that’s 31 percent of all traffic-related fatalities. Drunk drivers are easily confused and distracted, and they often lack the coordination to walk, talk coherently, or operate a motor vehicle.
Common Injuries in Head-On Traffic Accidents
The extreme nature of head-on accidents means there are many ways to get hurt, but the skull and brain are especially vulnerable. This is partly due to the posture drivers have behind the wheel and the way the seatbelt restraint systems works, securing the body while leaving the head and neck free to move. However, this leaves the head vulnerable to injury, especially in a head-on accident. Examples of how the brain and skull can get hurt in a head-on accident include:
- Skull fractures. Impact from striking the steering wheel, airbag, or other objects inside the car can cause the bones of the face and skull to break. This can be extremely painful and require extensive reconstructive surgery.
- Concussions. This type of brain injury can happen when either the head strikes the steering wheel or a passenger hits the dashboard. A concussion can also occur when the head and neck experience a violent, rapid “whiplash” motion. Some of the symptoms of a concussion include headaches, confusion, irritability, nausea and vomiting, slurred speech, and difficulty concentrating.
- Contusions. A contusion, or bruise, can occur when an impact causes capillary blood vessels to break. A brain contusion can have similar symptoms to a concussion but may also result in unconsciousness, mental agitation, loss of speech, coma, and death.
- Hemorrhage. When a blood vessel in the brain ruptures, it is a severe and life-threatening emergency. It can rapidly result in stroke-like symptoms, including seizures, weakness on one side of the body, numbness, unconsciousness, and death.
Other types of injuries may occur over the entire body, resulting in the need for extensive medical care, and multiple surgeries may be involved. Lengthy rehabilitation may also be necessary, especially in cases involving traumatic brain injury (TBI).
How to Get Help After an Accident
Not only are head-on collisions physically devastating, they can be financially devastating, too. If you have been involved in a head-on collision, protect your legal right to compensation by seeking the help of an attorney.
When head-on accidents happen as the result of negligence, the responsible driver may be liable for your medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and other expenses. A skilled accident attorney can help you determine your legal options.
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