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Head On-Collisions

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A head-on collision occurs when two motor vehicles hit one another front end to front end. These types of accidents can occur in a number of ways, but they often have two factors in common: They are terrifying for those who experience them, and they result in serious injuries. Attorneys who focus on protecting the rights of those who have been injured in car accidents often see situations in which a head-on collision has caused serious harm. At Zlotolow & Associates, our experienced car accident attorneys are committed to fighting for full and fair compensation for victims of head-on collisions and their families. Schedule a free consultation now to learn how we can help you.

How Do Head-On Collisions Happen?

Head-on collisions commonly happen in one of three ways, according to research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):

  • At an intersection, where traffic passes through in opposite directions
  • When one vehicle crosses the center line and hits another vehicle traveling in the opposite lane
  • When a driver goes the wrong way down a one-way street or lane

Head-on collisions are far more common on rural roads, particularly those on which no center line clearly defines traffic lanes, according to an article from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). Researchers found that 75 percent of head-on collisions take place on either rural roads or undivided two-lane roads. When a roadway is both rural and undivided, that number rises to 83 percent.

Why do head-on accidents occur? One of the top reasons is driver inattention or distraction. When a driver’s mind, eyes, or hands are not engaged in the task of driving, the car can veer across the center line and strike anything in its path, including another vehicle. Similarly, intoxication behind the wheel, either from alcohol or from other substances, can result in a head-on collision. Speeding can also cause a head-on crash, especially if drivers are going too fast to negotiate a curve safely while staying in their own lane.

Common Injuries in a Head-On Car Accident Collision

The number of deaths from head-on car collisions has decreased dramatically in recent years, according to the NHTSA. Nevertheless, even one death or serious injury is too many when it happens to you or someone you love.

Common injuries that may occur in a head-on collision include:

Head and Neck Injuries

Injuries such as concussions, whiplash (also known as neck sprain), and similar damage often occur in a head-on collision, where the force of crashing into another vehicle can throw or whip drivers and passengers back and forth. These back-and-forth motions put significant strain on the neck and increase the chance of a blow to the head, which can cause serious damage.

Spinal Cord Injuries

Damage to the bones of the spine and to the spinal cord may occur during a head-on collision. Broken or damaged vertebrae can result in lacerations or even severing of the spinal cord, which can cause lifelong paralysis.

Chest and Abdominal Injuries

Damage to the trunk of the body can occur due to the force of the seatbelt or airbag, or from hitting the steering column or dashboard. These injuries can include organ damage, such as damage to the liver, spleen, or kidneys, as well as broken ribs or chest injuries that damage the lungs or the heart.

Broken Bones and Extremity Injuries

During a head-on collision, any number of bones can be broken. Broken bones in the arms, hands, legs, or feet are not uncommon in a serious head-on crash. Damage to the shoulders, including the collarbone or shoulder blades, may also occur. In a severe crash in which crushing of the passenger compartment also occurs, so-called “crush injuries” that damage not only the bones but also the muscles, nerves, and soft tissue surrounding them may occur.

Psychological Injuries

Few things are more frightening than seeing another vehicle barreling toward you and not being able to do anything to prevent a crash. Post-traumatic stress disorder may appear as “flashbacks” in which you relive the accident, depression or anxiety, nightmares, insomnia, or mood swings that you cannot explain or control.

Post-traumatic stress results from your brain’s attempts to protect you from the trauma of the auto accident — attempts that are crucial when an accident occurs but that can become distressing after the physical danger has subsided. It is a medical condition as real and as disabling as any bodily injury, and it requires appropriate medical care. In many cases, these types of psychological injuries can be treated effectively, helping you to regain your sense of safety and control.

Although these are not the only injuries that a head-on car crash can cause, they are among the most commonly seen and the most serious. Even a “mild” broken bone or concussion may take weeks to heal and cause lingering problems with pain, ability to focus mentally, and more. Every injury needs to be examined by a medical professional in order to be diagnosed and treated effectively.

Helping Others Help You After a Crash: Your Injury Journal

One way to start taking control of your situation after your accident is to keep an “injury journal.” Your lawyer can recommend specific topics to cover in your journal. Here are some good places to begin:

Accident Notes

Start by making notes about the accident. Write down the date, time, and place, as well as everything you remember about the crash. Diagrams of the accident scene and photographs of the scene and the damage to your vehicle can help round out information about what happened.

Injury Notes

Start with the accident itself. What do you remember? What happened, and how did you feel immediately after the crash? If you were seen by any medical professionals, such as an EMT at the scene or a doctor in a hospital, write down what you remember: the name of the ambulance company or hospital, the names of any doctors you talked to, and what they recommended. If you have paperwork from that visit, add it to your journal.

Then, summarize the time between that day and when you started your journal. How did your injuries change? If you had additional doctor’s appointments, surgeries, or other tests or treatments, write about those.

Finally, starting today and every day in the future, take a few minutes to make notes about your condition. Write down how your injuries are doing, including pain levels, your ability to move, and anything else you notice, such as how well surgical sites are healing. Also, write down how you’re doing emotionally. If you experience either victories or setbacks (such as being able to complete a chore you couldn’t do last week or finding you are still unable to do that chore), write these down as well.

Doctor’s Notes

You can also use your injury journal to track your doctor’s appointments. Take time at every appointment to write down the date and time, which doctor you saw, and what they recommended. If you have a follow-up appointment, write down the date and time so you don’t forget it.

Your journal helps you stay organized as you pursue compensation for your injuries by keeping crucial information in one place. It can help your doctors diagnose you more accurately or recommend more effective treatments for your injuries. It can also help your car accident attorney establish a strong case for compensation that clearly describes the help you will need in the future, as well as the help you need today. And it can help you maintain a sense of perspective and control when it comes to your injuries.

Choosing an Experienced New York City Car Accident Lawyer Who Will Fight for You

Scott Zlotolow and the team at Zlotolow & Associates, P.C., have worked for more than 20 years to defend the rights of clients who have been injured by the negligence of others. We know how difficult the days and weeks after a serious car crash can be. And we are dedicated to fighting for the full compensation each client deserves — never settling for less just to close a case. Contact us today so we can get started working on your case.

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