man holding head and kneeling in front of smashed car after head-on collisionHead-on collisions are not the most common kind of car accident, but they are undoubtedly one of the most damaging. When high speeds are involved, the sheer trauma of two vehicles colliding head-on can result in serious injury and even death.

If you or a loved one was a victim in a head-on collision, you should not have to pay the costs of recovery on your own. Here’s what you need to know about head-on car crashes and your options for getting justice after you have been involved in one.

The Causes of Head-on Car Crashes

A head-on collision can happen on any roadway, but they occur most frequently when one car crosses the center line and heads into oncoming traffic because the driver is:

  • Drunk, or otherwise impaired
  • Distracted by their mobile phone or a passenger
  • Not in control of their vehicle during inclement weather, especially heavy rain or snow
  • Asleep behind the wheel and drifting into the wrong lane
  • Confused or lost and entered a highway or one-way road the wrong way

Possible Injuries in Head-on Car Crashes

Any car accident can be traumatic, but head-on collisions are more likely than other types of crashes to culminate in serious injuries, such as:

  • Head or facial wounds, including fractures, punctures, cuts, and burns.
  • Neck and spine injuries, such as compressed vertebrae, broken bones, and herniated discs. Even low-speed collisions can be dangerous, as they may cause long-lasting “whiplash” that is not immediately noticeable.
  • Broken bones, especially the bones of the wrist, legs, and rib cage. A bone can be broken through the force of impact or airbag deployment.
  • Traumatic brain injuries, including internal bleeding.
  • Burns, if the crash results in a fire or a motorist comes in contact with a burning or hot part.

Many of these injuries can prove fatal.

What to Do After a Head-on Collision

Whenever you are involved in a car accident, you should always seek medical attention as soon as possible. If you are not seriously injured, you should also call 911 and ask for a police officer to come and investigate. Even if the officer is not able to determine fault, you can still use their report in court.

If you do not need to go to the hospital or take a passenger to the hospital, you should try to collect and preserve any evidence relating to the crash. This could include:

  • Taking pictures of the accident site, damage to your vehicle, and any injuries.
  • Noting the location of the accident. Check for road names, nearby addresses, or highway mile signs.
  • Locating any potential eyewitnesses and requesting their names and contact information.

You should quickly contact an attorney, too, even before you have left the scene of the collision. In some cases, your lawyer’s legal team can dispatch investigators immediately. They can begin collecting evidence and preparing a case on-site.

Potential Damages in a Missouri Car Crash Case

Whenever you have been hurt by another person’s negligence, you may be able to file a personal injury claim to recover your losses. In the law, these losses are called “damages.” In general, there are two different types of damages:

  • Economic damages. These are damages that are calculable and relate to incurred or anticipated losses. You can claim economic damages for car repairs, hospital bills, physician visits, physical rehabilitation, and more.
  • Non-economic damages. These damages are more subjective. You can claim non-economic damages for emotional pain and suffering, psychological trauma, disfigurement, loss of ability, wrongful death, and more.

Your attorney can help you calculate the value of your claim. If the other motorist or their insurance company is not willing to offer a reasonable and fair settlement, you can file a personal injury lawsuit.

When to Contact an Attorney

You should contact an attorney as soon as you can, even if you are still at the accident site. The Missouri statute of limitations for car crashes lets you file a personal injury lawsuit up to five years after the accident, with some exceptions.

However, it is almost always better to act fast. If you take too long to file a claim, the insurance company may accuse you of fabricating or exaggerating your injuries for personal gain. They will also have more time to prepare their own defense and will do everything in their power to keep your potential award as small as possible.

If you try suing after the statute of limitations has expired, the court will almost certainly dismiss your claim—even if you were the victim of obvious negligence.

Megan D. Andrews
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