Head-On Motor Vehicle Collisions

In a head-on crash, the front ends of both motor vehicles collide, making it difficult for passengers or drivers to survive, especially if the vehicles are traveling at high speed. Driving can be dangerous, and motor vehicle accidents can be devastating. Whether the accident was caused by an impaired driver or a driver driving down the wrong side of the road, head-on crashes can be deadlier than other types of accidents.

According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, in 2017, there were 134 fatalities caused by impaired drivers. Most head-on collisions are a result of unintentional driving maneuvers (falling asleep on the wheel, distracted driving, etc.). Head-on collisions can occur in rural and urban areas. The roads in rural areas cause drivers to increase their speed, making these crashes fatal. In urban areas, the traffic speed is lower, which decreases the chances of fatality. According to the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), in 2017, of all traffic fatalities, rural areas accounted for 46% even though there are many more drivers on city roads. See DOT HS 812 741

The force of two motor vehicles traveling in the opposite direction and crashing into each other can result in catastrophic injuries and fatalities. When two cars slam into each other head-on, the force the drivers feel is equivalent to the combined speed of both cars. The results of a head-on crash can be even worse when the vehicles are mismatched in size (i.e., a passenger vehicle collides with a motorcycle or a truck collides with a passenger vehicle).

Lawyer for Head-On Collisions in Bellingham, WA

In a head-on crash, the lives of the parties involved are changed in a split second. Many times, head-on collisions lead to property damage and serious injuries, such as brain injuries, paralysis, or spinal cord injuries. This type of car, motorcycle, or truck accident is tragic because the collision could often have been prevented.

The aftermath of the accident can be overwhelming when you are faced with having to solve insurance disputes while attempting to recover. Many catastrophic injuries in a head-on collision require an extensive and lengthy rehabilitation process, and there are worst-case scenarios when the victims never fully recover. At PNW Trial Lawyers, our dedicated and compassionate attorneys understand that these are challenging times for you and your family. If you have been in a head-on collision, do not underestimate your injuries and make sure you seek medical attention. The damages resulting from a head-on collision affect all parties involved, whether drivers or passengers. Many head-on accidents are due to DUI drivers, drivers under the influence of cannabis, or negligent drivers.

If you were a victim of a head-on crash, it is essential to have a proper car accident attorney. At PNW Trial Lawyers, we are here to help you and your family because we understand the severity of the situation. During this challenging time, you and your loved ones deserve to have an experienced car accident attorney from PNW Trial Lawyers by your side. Let us focus on the trial, documentation, insurance agency, and legal implications. We want you to focus on your recovery. At PNW Trial Lawyers, we will listen and use our resources to assist you in the best way we can. We serve clients in Bellingham, Mt. Vernon, Everett, Anacortes, and the surrounding areas of Snohomish, Skagit, and Whatcom counties.

Call us at (360) 483-5201 for a free consultation.

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Overview of Head-On Accidents in Washington

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Common Causes for Head-On Crashes

Many factors can cause a car accident, motorcycle accident, or a truck accident. Below are some common factors contributing to head-on collisions:

  • Impaired or Intoxicated Driver – Operating heavy machinery while intoxicated can negatively impact your reaction time and your other motor functions. Being under the influence of marijuana can also negatively impact your driving. 
  • Distracted Driving or Negligent Driver – Taking your eyes off the road for even a second can result in a crash. Distracted drivers (e.g., texting, talking on the phone, exhausted drivers, etc.) are more likely to miss signs or run a red light. 
  • Weather Conditions – Heavy weather such as snow and rain can cause accidents. Drivers have to adjust their driving during poor weather conditions and exercise care to the other vehicles on the road. Drivers cannot be held responsible for the weather conditions, but they can be held accountable for failing to exercise care by adjusting their driving. 
  • Aggressive or Reckless Driving – This type of driving can cause accidents, especially for motorcyclists who are not protected from the hazardous elements of the road. 
  • Hazardous or Dangerous Roads – Roadways are a factor in a car, motorcycle, and truck accidents. Roads that are poorly maintained can cause a driver to collide with an object. At times, drivers might not be familiar with the area or know if the roads are safe. 

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Head-On Collisions with a Truck

When a passenger vehicle and semi-truck collide, it can be disastrous because of the difference is the size. Although both drivers will likely suffer injuries from the impact, the driver and occupants from the passenger vehicle might not just scrape by with minor injuries. The effect of a head-on collision is the combined speed of both cars and the force of hitting a stopped car. Therefore, head-on collisions are likely to result in catastrophic injuries.

If you were in a motor vehicle accident with a semi-truck, 18-wheeler, or a dump truck, do not underestimate the situation and mistake it for a simple head-on collision. These types of accidents usually happen unexpectedly and suddenly. The laws, rules, and regulations in a head-on collision with a semi-truck are different than with a standard passenger vehicle. In many instances, a head-on accident with a commercial truck involves a company employee, meaning that if you suffered an injury, understanding who is liable is not that simple. The company that hired the driver might be responsible for your damages.

Motor carriers, freight forwarders, and commercial truck drivers have different requirements and laws that they need to abide by. Truckers drive for long periods because they have demands and deadlines to meet. Some factors in head-on collisions with a semi-truck are fatigued drivers or a vehicle malfunction.

Determining Liability

A head-on accident can be examined and analyzed to determine the driver who is at fault for the collision. For example, if the driver was driving on the wrong side of the road, then that driver can be held accountable for the head-on collision. Nevertheless, there are instances when other factors need to be considered, for example, if a truck pushes another vehicle into oncoming traffic.

Below are examples of evidence that might be used to determine liability in a head-on collision between a motor vehicle and a truck:

  • Scene of Accident– The position of the vehicles at the scene of the accident (this can help determine which vehicle was in the wrong lane).
  • Witnesses– When a police officer arrives at the scene of the accident, he/she will take statements from witnesses.
  • Hours of service logs– Truckers are only allowed to drive a specific number of hours after having specific consecutive hours off-duty. In Washington State, the Hours of Service are meant to make sure drivers are provided with enough rest and can meet their requirements. Truckers have Federal and State guidelines that they must abide by.
  • Cellphone Records – Since truckers drive for long periods, they sometimes try to pass the time by doing other activities while driving. Using cellphone records can help indicate if the driver was distracted.
  • Truck Maintenance Records– Washington State has laws regarding commercial vehicle operations within the state and their safety requirements, which include regular maintenance.

Documentation for Compensation & Head-On Truck Collision Injuries

A truck accident can entail many hospital visits for you and your loved ones. In many cases, victims do not recover from their injuries and have to adapt and change their lives. Seeking compensation is crucial because it can help you and your family. Although your life may not be the same, compensation can help alleviate some financial burdens like hospitalization, prescriptions, rehabilitation, and much more.

To seek compensation, you must document all your injuries, expenses, and the opportunities you have lost (e.g., employment loss). Proper documentation makes a significant difference in the outcome of your case.

Below are a few items essential to documenting your case:

  • Do not wait to seek medical attention – If you were a victim of a head-on collision with a commercial truck, chances are you will need medical care. If you managed to survive the accident with “minor” injuries, seek medical help. The injuries that seem “minor” at first may become severe over time.
  • Record Day-to-Day Physical & Psychological Aftermath – Keeping a journal or a log of your daily routine related to your injuries with dates, times, and how you are feeling is important. Keep records of your hospital visitations and stays, note any changes to your condition, and account for appointments in other healthcare facilities. The journal is meant to account for your emotional and psychological injuries after the accident. Be sure to note how you are feeling daily and express your frustrations. Also note if you are having trouble with activities that you normally wouldn’t (e.g., sleeping).

There are many serious injuries that you can suffer from besides death in a head-on crash with a truck. Victims of a head-on collision experience physical trauma, and it can take shape and form of things like severe burns or broken bones.

Below are common severe injuries that can result from a head-on collision with a semi-truck:

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Head-On Collisions with a Car

When people get in their car every day, they don’t expect a head-on collision to happen. In 2015, Washington State experienced crashes every 4.5 minutes. (See Washington State Annual Collision Summary). Though many crashes result in injuries, a head-on collision is among the most serious and harmful to the drivers and passengers in both vehicles.

After seeking medical attention, it is imperative to have legal representation. Head-on collisions lead to serious injuries, whether you are the driver or a passenger. If there are doubts about fault or settlement, retaining an attorney is in your best interest. Your car accident lawyer can help gather evidence, see if anything was overlooked, and build a case on your behalf.

Determining Liability 

In a head-on collision with another standard motor vehicle, determining who should be held liable can be either simple or complicated. If the accident happened because the other driver was distracted and on the wrong lane, then determining fault is obvious. However, if the accident happened because a driver swerved in order to avoid a hazard, the case can become a bit more complex. In a head-on collision with another car, it is important to establish negligence. In other words, it is essential to demonstrate the careless and reckless acts of the other driver that led to and caused your damages.

Below are a few factors that are taken into consideration when questioning the actions of another driver:

  • Violating Traffic Laws (e.g. speeding, not stopping at a red light, etc.)
  • Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or While Intoxicated (DWI)
  • Texting and driving
  • Driving and not exercising reasonable care to those on the road

Documentation for Compensation & Head-On Car Crash Injuries

Documentation is essential in any claim. After experiencing a head-on crash, things might seem confusing, and as though everything is happening all at once. You will have medical professionals, insurance agencies, police officers, and others asking questions. Insurance agencies and police officers will be attempting to figure out what happened and who is at fault for the accident. Keeping an account of what transpired can help. 

Below are suggestions on how to properly document your accident:

  • Photographic Evidence – Be sure to take pictures of the scene and the accident. Make sure that your pictures include the damages that the cars sustained (yours and the other driver’s), license plates (your car and the other car), location (where the accident took place), and images of any tire tracks.
  • Police Officer – If a police officer arrives at the scene of the accident, be sure to acquire his information. The police officer will make a report of the accident. Be sure to get the police officer’s badge number and report number.
  • Medical Expenses– It is important to see a medical professional after an accident. Do not delay medical help. Document all your medical expenses, for instance, prescriptions, hospitalization, therapy, etc.
  • Vehicle Repair – Have proper documentation of the estimated damages by a qualified auto mechanic. 
 Below are some common injuries involved in a head-on collision with another standard motor vehicle:
  • Blunt Force Trauma
  • Friction Burns
  • Internal Organ Damage
  • Leg Injuries
  • Neck Injuries
  • Whiplash

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Head-On Collisions with a Motorcycle

Unlike standard motor vehicles and semi-trucks that provide covered metal protection for their drivers, motorcyclists do not have that luxury. Motorcycles are lighter and smaller compared to other motor vehicles. A head-on collision with a motorcyclist can have devastating and life-threating results for the cyclists. Washington State has various laws and regulations for motorcyclists, to protect them while on the road and reduce their fatality rates. Even though motorcyclists only make 3% of the vehicles on the roads in Washington, they made up for 15% of the fatal crashes in 2018.

Driving a motorcycle is riskier than another motor vehicle and requires a different skill set. Washington has requirements for a motorcycle license, for example, having to take an exam to have the proper endorsement to operate a motorcycle (See RCW 46.20.515). In addition to the basic demands to obtain a license, there are also equipment requirements the motorcyclists have to abide by. For instance, the motorcycle must have mirrors on the left and right sides to allow the driver to view 200ft to the rear. (See RCW 46.37.530(1)(a)). Motorcyclists are extremely vulnerable to injuries, and a head-on collision can mean not only severe injuries but also wrongful death.

Determining Liability

Unfortunately, motorcyclists have a negative image because many people view motorcyclists as reckless drivers. Lawyers may use this to their advantage. Motorcyclists are driving a motor vehicle not designed to protect the driver or passenger from an impact. Determining the party that is liable in a head-on collision can seem extremely simple, but there are many factors to take into account.

Below is a list of some information to keep in mind when determining liability in a head-on collision between a motorcycle and another vehicle:

  • Motorcyclists might have to prove their innocence – As stated before, motorcyclists have a negative image attached to them. It is imperative to demonstrate that you were not negligent.
  • Demonstrate that the other driver was negligent – In other words, showing that the driver owed a duty of care to the motorcyclists, and it was not exercised. If the driver at fault failed to exercise their duty of care, it owed to the other driver; this is important.

Documentation for Compensation & Head-On Motorcycle Crash Injuries

Motorcyclists that survive a head-on crash with another motor vehicle must be treated with care at the scene. It is important to attend to the victim as though he or she has suffered a spinal injury. If you are a motorcyclist and sustained injuries because of a head-on collision with another motor vehicle, most of your time will likely be spent in the hospital. It is crucial to seek professional legal assistance. Retaining a lawyer can help you acquire the documentation needed to seek compensation for your case. Your attorney can investigate what happened, acquire your medical records, and request information from the police officers while you recover.

Below is some evidence that can be used in your claim that you or your lawyer can gather in the meantime:

  • Journaling or Keeping Detailed Notes – This is something the victim can do. By keeping a record of information such as things that the other driver said (e.g., apologizing for the accident) or how your injuries have impacted your daily routine can be extremely helpful. Include information such as things mentioned by the other driver, hospital visits, your mental state, emotions, etc.
  • Police Report – While you are recovering, your attorney can acquire the official police report. Police officers investigate the accidents, and in the report, they can state their professional opinion about who should be held liable. The officer’s professional opinion of the officer on the report does not necessarily mean the other person will ultimately be held liable, but the report is still important. For example, the officer might have ticketed the other driver for a traffic violation.
  • Medical Records & Expenses – Keep track of your medical appointments and various visitations in a journal. Your legal representative can acquire your medical records. Be sure to have copies of all your medical bills, hospitalizations, surgeries, and any ongoing care that you are receiving because of the injuries caused by accident. It is vital to keep the receipts of your out-of-pocket medical expenses.
  • Lost Wages – Hospitalization requires you to miss work. Injuries can also be extremely severe, to the point that they can ruin your chances of future employment. Documenting your lost wages in a claim is essential – be sure to get a statement from your employer, noting the vacation time and sick leave that needed to be used. Ask your employer for documentation of missed potential opportunities for overtime or bonuses. If FMLAs were used, include that information as well.
  • Clothes and Helmet – Be sure to keep the clothes and helmet from the accident uncontaminated and in a plastic bin. This can be useful if your case does not end in a settlement. 
Below are common injuries suffered by motorcyclists in a head-on crash:
  • Fractured and Broken Bones
  • Head Trauma
  • Internal Damages
  • Neck Injury
  • Paralysis
  • Road Rash
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Wrongful Death

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Additional Resources

The Arc Snohomish County – Even though suffering from an accident that has completely changed your life is challenging, there are resources available to help you. The Arc Snohomish County provides resources and services (awareness, education, self-determination, support groups, etc.) for “all ages and all spectrums.” The Arc is a nonprofit disability organization that aims to demonstrate that individuals with or without disabilities are defined by “their own strengths, abilities, and inherent value.”

Crash Reports – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has provided information on crash reports. Visit the link to view the map, allowing you to click on a location and view the reports of collisions. The reports provide information on safety performance based on the measures of the state, fatalities within the state compared to the state with the lowest collisions, and accounts on fatal crashes based on impaired drivers.

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Attorney for Head-On Accident in Whatcom County, Washington

If a loved one or yourself were in a head-on collision with either a truck, a standard motor vehicle or a motorcycle, seek medical attention. Head-on crashes can be fatal. The injuries can be extremely severe, sometimes requiring life-changing accommodations. At PNW Trial Lawyers, our accident attorneys can help you. We are here to help serve individuals who have suffered injuries or losses because of tragic accidents. It is heartbreaking to witness families devastated because of the wrongful death of a loved one. It is equally devastating witnessing the difficulties injured victims go through. Our attorneys at PNW Trial Lawyers are dedicated to helping our clients seek compensation for their injuries. We serve clients in Bellingham, Mt. Vernon, Everett, Anacortes, and the surrounding areas of Snohomish, Skagit, and Whatcom counties.

We are knowledgeable and experienced in personal injury cases. We know that recovery should be the first thing on your mind after a head-on crash. Do not let yourself be intimidated by insurance companies or other individuals. At PNW Trial Lawyers, we are here to provide you with skilled and knowledgeable representation. Call (360) 483-5201 to schedule a free consultation.