A Comprehensive Look Into Head-on Collisions

Many car crashes are minor fender-benders, mostly involving property damage only. However, when two vehicles collide head-on at high speed, the aftermath could be catastrophic. Fatalities are likely. 

If not that, car accident victims face debilitating injuries, expensive medical treatment, and hefty hospital bills. Some become unemployable because their injuries rendered them incapable of working. 

Head-on collisions can occur on any road but are most common on two-lane highways or rural areas. The National Safety Council revealed that head-on collision is the second leading cause of death related to motor vehicle accidents. In 2020, the council reported 5,000 deaths due to this accident type

Recently, pro wrestler Jay Briscoe from Delaware died in a head-on collision. State police say Briscoe was driving a Chevrolet Silverado near Goose Nest Road past 5:00 P.M. on January 17, 2023. The other driver, Lillyanne Ternahan, was heading to Laurel Road in Briscoe’s direction. 

Due to unknown reasons, Ternahan’s car drifted across the center line, hitting Briscoe’s truck. Both drivers died of their injuries. Briscoe’s daughters, who were in the car with him, sustained serious injuries. 

If you or a loved one figured in a negligent head-on collision, you could get compensation for your losses. This article provides a comprehensive look into head-on collisions and what you can do in the aftermath.

Key Takeaways
  • The impact force in a head-on collision often converges on the front of the vehicles, making it lethal for those sitting in the front seats.
  • The results of a head-on collision can be devastating, often resulting in concussions, serious injuries, or death.
  • Compensation for damages would depend on the seriousness of the injury, state laws, and the extent of negligence proven.

Have you recently been injured in an accident?

What is a head-on collision?

A head-on collision occurs when the front ends of two vehicles collide, typically on a two-lane road. Most consider this type of auto accident the most dangerous because of the combined impact forces. They converge on the front of the vehicle, so those in the front seat will likely sustain severe injuries.

What are the common causes of head-on collisions?

Various factors can cause head-on collisions. These are a few of the factors in detail. 

Driver error

Distracted drivers have a high chance of figuring into a head-on collision accident. They may wander into the path of oncoming traffic because they are not paying attention to the road. 

Overspeeding drivers are also vulnerable to causing a head-on collision since they have less time to react to unexpected events in their lane. Some drivers may fail to see headlights coming from the opposite direction in time to avoid a collision. Again, this can be a reason for a lethal head-on collision. 

Poor visibility

Weather conditions can affect the driver’s ability to see the streets. For example, fog can reduce visibility, making it hard for them to detect objects along their path. 

Aside from that, poor lighting can prevent drivers from seeing pedestrians or animals that appear suddenly in front of them. They may cause the driver to swerve into oncoming traffic.

Here are other road obstructions that might highly affect a driver’s vision:: 

  • Mud sprayed on the windshield
  • Trees or bushes growing along the side of the road
  • Parked cars or buildings 
  • Glare from other vehicles or bright sunlight bouncing off wet surfaces 

Alcohol use or impairment 

Drugged, drunk, or otherwise impaired drivers have significantly slower reactions. They cannot judge distances correctly or anticipate obstacles on the road, causing them to swerve. They may also fall asleep and drift into oncoming traffic, resulting in a head-on collision.

Many states have laws prohibiting impaired driving to prevent head-on collisions and other accidents. This includes setting and implementing a legal blood alcohol content limit and conducting regular sobriety checkpoints. 

Even a little alcohol can impair a driver’s judgment and reaction times, depending on their tolerance levels. The safer alternative is never to drive while under the influence of intoxicating substances. 

Mechanical failure

Failure of a vehicle’s mechanical systems, like its brakes, steering, or tires, can cause a driver to lose control of the car. They may unintentionally cross into oncoming traffic, resulting in a head-on collision.

A tire blowout, for example, is likely to cause the vehicle to swerve uncontrollably, possibly into oncoming traffic. Similarly, brake failure may prevent the driver from slowing down or stopping in time to avoid a head-on car crash.

Improper lane usage

Improper lane usage can lead to head-on collisions. This includes driving on the wrong side of the road or crossing over the center line. Vehicles are going in opposite directions, increasing the likelihood and severity of the collision. To prevent this, drivers should always stay within their lane and avoid crossing over the center line.

Suppose you travel on a two-lane road and want to overtake or change lanes. In that case, ensure you have enough time to avoid oncoming traffic.


When you’re tired or lack sleep, your reactions and ability to assess distance are significantly impaired. This can make it challenging to anticipate the behavior of other drivers and avoid a collision.

Fatigue also affects your ability to multitask. This makes it harder for you to pay attention to all the different things happening as you drive. Failing to observe other cars on the road or pedestrians crossing in front of you is likely. Falling asleep behind the wheel or “drowsy driving” is also a risk when driving in this condition.

Reckless driving

Reckless driving is “driving in a manner that endangers or could endanger a pedestrian, motorist, or property. This includes speeding, not obeying traffic signals and signs, and failing to keep a proper distance between vehicles. Any or a combination of these factors can also cause head-on collisions.

Ways to Establish Fault in Head-On Collision Cases 

Head-on collisions often result in severe injuries like broken bones, traumatic brain injuries (TBI), and spinal cord injuries. It is something you want to avoid at all costs.

The cause of the crash can be due to several factors, including poor visibility and driver error. If you have been in a head-on collision, you must understand how to establish fault for the accident. Through this, you can seek compensation for your damages.

  • Physical evidence: Physical evidence is the most prominent and common way to establish fault in head-on collision cases. This can include skid marks, traffic cones, debris on the road, and other physical evidence indicating the driver was driving too fast or unsafely.
  • Eyewitness testimony: This type of testimony can support physical evidence to prove fault. Eyewitnesses involved in the accident can provide valuable insight into what happened and help determine who was at fault. 
  • Police reports: Police reports typically include information about the crash, witness statements, and other relevant details.
  • Expert testimony: Accident reconstruction experts can use physical evidence to reconstruct the events of the accident. After which, they will provide an opinion on the cause of the collision and the driver’s actions that may have contributed to it. The goal of their testimony is to determine fault.

Here are the things that you and your personal injury attorney should establish for a successful claim. 


Negligence is the person’s failure to act with the required level of care. To establish negligence, you must show the following:

  • The at-fault party had the legal duty to act with reasonable care
  • The defendant breached their duty of care
  • The breach caused the accident
  • The accident resulted in injuries or death

In some states, the comparative negligence doctrine applies. This would mean a reduction in damages if the plaintiff played a role in causing the accident or injury. States using the contributory negligence doctrine do not allow compensation claims if the plaintiff is at-fault to any degree.

Suppose you were a car accident victim and not wearing a seatbelt. In that case, you may be partially at fault. The same principle applies when you swerve across the center line to avoid a pedestrian. The plaintiff can still recover damages under comparative negligence but not contributory negligence.

Duty of care

In a head-on collision case, the plaintiff must establish that the defendant failed in their duty of care. The duty of care is an obligation for one person to act to avoid harming another person. In other words, it is the standard of care when performing a specific task, such as driving. 

The standard depends on the circumstances and the relationship between the parties involved. For example, a driver must use more care than a pedestrian because driving requires special skills and knowledge. 

Suppose they hit another motorist because they’re driving on the wrong side of any two-lane road. In that case, they can be liable for damages.


A thorough investigation must determine the cause of a head-on collision. This investigation may include things like the following: 

  • Interviewing eyewitnesses
  • Inspecting the vehicles involved in the accident
  • Analyzing physical evidence from the scene, such as skid marks or damage to the vehicles

What types of damages can you claim?

In a head-on collision case, a person can pray for various types of damages. These include the following:

  • Medical expenses: These types of damages cover the costs associated with your injury, including medical bills and hospital expenses. This can also include other fees related to your medical treatment.
  • Lost wages: Lost wages can include salaries, bonuses, commissions, and other forms of compensation. In some cases, lost wages include loss of future earning capacity if the injury has a long-term impact on the plaintiff’s ability to work. 
  • Pain and suffering: Commonly known as non-economic damages, these compensate a person for the physical and emotional distress they experienced due to an accident. This type of award is typically considered compensatory damages.
  • Loss of consortium: You can sue for compensation for the loss of companionship or support that a person may have experienced due to the incident. 
  • Property damage: This refers to the damage or destruction of personal property due to another’s actions. 
  • Punitive damages: These awards are meant to punish the at-fault driver for particularly negligent conduct and to deter similar behavior in the future.
  • Wrongful death: These are damages intended to compensate the surviving family members for losing their loved ones.

When do you need a head-on collision lawyer? 

A head-on collision lawyer can be a valuable resource. You should seek their assistance in the following instances:

  • You’ve been injured in a frontal crash and seek compensation for your injuries and losses. 
  • You are being held liable for a head-on collision and are facing a lawsuit. 
  • The cause of the head-on collision is complex and requires a thorough investigation.
  • The insurance company is not offering a fair settlement. 
  • You lost a loved one in a head-on collision. 
  • You need to figure out your legal rights and options. 

In some cases, there is more than one liable party. Suppose you’re an accident victim  suffering from injuries like whiplash, concussions, or leg injuries due to sudden airbag inflation. In that case, you can recover damages from the driver who caused the accident and the airbag manufacturer. 

A lawyer protects your legal rights in a car accident. They can ensure you receive compensation if you are a victim of negligence.

Did you know?

The damages available and the amount one can recover will depend on the case’s specific facts. State laws where the accident occurred also play an integral part in determining damages.

Claim Fair Compensation in Head-on Collisions 

You may recover damages from the responsible party if you’ve been hurt in a head-on collision. A personal injury lawyer protects your legal rights and helps you build a case to file a claim. 

If you need help with how to go through this process, you can always visit The Personal Injury Center. We have the resources to help you understand your rights, assess your options, and find a personal injury lawyer to help you. 

The car accident lawyers in our network have extensive experience with handling head-on or rear-end collision cases. They can offer sound legal advice when pursuing a personal injury lawsuit.

Get a free consultation to find the right car accident attorney or law firm for your case.

Have you recently been injured in an accident?

The Personal Injury Center is the best place to start looking for legal resources related to your case and seasoned tort lawyers. Secure the compensation you deserve. 

FAQs on Head-on Collision

Head-on collisions are often lethal due to the high speed and force of impact. The usual cause of death in head-on collisions is traumatic injuries sustained in the crash. These injuries can include:

  • Head injuries: Trauma to the head, such as skull fractures or brain injuries, can lead to severe complications and death.
  • Chest injuries: This includes broken ribs or internal organ damage, which can lead to severe bleeding and death.
  • Spinal cord injuries: This includes spinal cord injuries that can lead to paralysis and death.
  • Internal bleeding: In the context of a roll-over accident, internal bleeding can be due to blunt force trauma to the body. The penetration of an object can also cause it through the skin.

In addition to the injuries mentioned above, injuries to other body parts, like the legs and arms, can also cause death. Some injuries might not be fatal but can lead to permanent disability and suffering.

The most lethal type of head-on collision is between two vehicles of different sizes colliding at high speeds. The force of impact is much more significant, and the smaller vehicle often bears the brunt of it. Passengers in a car suffer more severe injuries in a head-on collision with a large truck than with another car.

Yes, you can prevent a head-on crash by doing the following: 

  • Understanding the road you're navigating
  • Driving to the right of a two-lane road
  • Slowing down
  • Going off the road when colliding with another vehicle is imminent