Head-on collisions are some of the most dangerous accidents possible on the road, especially when they occur at high speeds. These kinds of accidents usually involve two cars, one of which that has drifted across the dividing line and into oncoming traffic. Often, head-on collisions are caused by distracted driving or involve the use of drugs or alcohol. Because the force of the accident is a combination of the full speeds of the two vehicles involved, these accidents can be particularly catastrophic and are often fatal. In the majority of cases, one driver is clearly at fault while the other must suffer the long-term consequences of the at-fault driver's failure to take appropriate caution.
Statistics on Head-On Collisions
Although according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the percentage of auto accidents that are head-on collisions account for only 2-3% of accidents on average, they are statistically more fatal than other kinds of accidents. Head-on collisions are responsible for 7% of auto accident fatalities in urban areas and 13% of auto accident fatalities in rural areas. This is most likely due to the nature of roads in rural areas, which are more narrow with no dividing medians to prevent people from drifting into oncoming traffic. Speeding contributes to the fatal trends in these kinds of crashes.
Contributions of Distracted Driving
As the use of technology grows, distracted driving increasingly affects millions of drivers on the road in New Mexico each year. Many times, head-on collisions are caused by a driver who is not paying attention to the road and, therefore, drifts across the dividing line into oncoming traffic. This lack of attention can be caused by a variety of things, such as:
- Texting while driving;
- Navigating a phone while driving;
- Exhaustion or falling asleep at the wheel;
- The influence of drugs or alcohol; or
- Managing another task in the car, such as eating, drinking, or helping a child.
In New Mexico, it is illegal to text and drive, or to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol with a blood alcohol content of over 0.08%.
Establishing Liability in Head-On Collisions
In most head-on collisions, one driver is clearly liable, as the accident usually occurs in a lane with one car traveling in the correct direction and the other traveling against the flow of traffic. If a driver is found liable, the injuries and property damage sustained by the other driver, or victim, should be covered by the at-fault driver's insurance policy. If the at-fault driver's basic liability coverage is not adequate to cover all the costs, the victim's underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage may additionally come into play.
In order to win a claim, it must be demonstrated that one party is at fault. At-fault implies liability, and in order to prove liability, generally, the "victim" must prove that the other driver owed a duty of care and that care was breached through negligence. Furthermore, damages must have resulted from the at-fault party's negligence. When these elements are present and proven, liability has been established.
Sometimes the liable party is not actually the driver, but the employer of the driver or the manufacturer of the car or car parts. Establishing liability is the same regardless: demonstrate that (1) there was a duty of care; (2) the duty was breached; and (3) damages resulted from the breach.
Examples of negligence include violating a traffic rule or regulation and driving while distracted or while tired.
Common Injuries and Damages
Property damage and personal injuries resulting from head-on collisions may be catastrophic and can be the basis for large sums of damages. Economic damages can include medical bills, rehabilitation and physical therapy expenses, costs to repair the vehicle, loss of wages during recovery time, and any at-home care required by the victim(s). In terms of noneconomic damages, victims may be compensated for pain and suffering and a loss of enjoyment of life, especially if there are injuries with lasting consequences, such as facial disfigurement or paralysis. If you have lost a loved one in this kind of accident, you may choose to file a wrongful death claim against the at-fault driver.
Legal Representation for New Mexico Victims
When a victim is in recovery from an automobile accident, filing legal claims or lawsuits against individuals and their insurance companies can seem overwhelming and exhausting. An experienced accident attorney working in New Mexico can help victims gain access to the compensation they deserve as they begin to put their lives together after a head-on collision. For an initial consultation on your case, call Revo Smith Law today at (505) 293-8888 or contact them online.