A head-on collision is one of the most damaging and deadly kinds of wrecks. Many victims suffer head and chest injuries, and vehicles are often destroyed. When someone else is at fault for your crash, you need help from a skilled Chicago car accident attorney.

When you contact Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates, we will schedule a free case evaluation with a qualified Chicago head-on collision accident attorney who will explain your options for seeking justice and compensation for your losses.

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What is a head-on collision?

Head-on collisions happen when two drivers traveling in opposite directions hit each other from the front. These are some of the most deadly and dangerous types of collisions because the cars are hit with double the force. If both cars are going 50mph, then the drivers are hit with the force equivalent of a 100mph crash.

These crashes don’t always involve other cars

A head-on collision is also a common type of single-vehicle collision. A driver may not see a stationary object ahead of them, like a tree, light pole, or concrete roadway barrier. The force of the impact may be less than the force of two vehicles colliding, but the chances of a fatal or life-changing injury are still high.
Although most cars now are equipped with front airbags, the protection afforded by an airbag may not be enough to protect the people inside with force this intense. Airbag injuries are no joke, either. Facial trauma is common, and there’s a chance that you could still have crushing injuries, bruising, or internal organ damage from the force of the impact, even with your seatbelt or the airbag.

Understanding the dangers of head-on accidents

In a recent year, there were a little over 2,700 front-to-front collisions in Illinois, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), with 146 fatalities and 1,283 injuries. Head-on crashes are more likely to be fatal or result in serious injuries due to the excessive force often involved. The National Safety Council estimated in a recent year that nearly 30% of all fatal collisions were head-on crashes.

Another reason a front-to-front crash is more likely to be fatal is that drivers may be unable to engage in typical accident avoidance actions. For example, someone nodding off behind the wheel or intoxicated may drift into oncoming traffic and not realize it. The driver won’t be able to swerve or slam on their brakes quickly enough to avoid hitting another car head-on.

They may be confused and unsure how to react and so do nothing, unable to avoid the crash. Drivers may be trapped, with no way to avoid the crash. This could happen on a one-way street or a two-lane highway with no shoulder or ditch to swerve into to escape.

A car’s engine block can be forced backward into the driver or front-seat passenger’s body if the force of the crash is high enough. There’s not much protection between the engine block and the car’s passenger compartment, and airbags aren’t positioned that low.

Common causes of head-on collisions

Most head-on collisions in Chicago come down to negligence, meaning someone acted carelessly or failed to take preventative action. Some common causes of these accidents include:

Distracted driving

Texting or taking calls takes a driver’s focus off the road, as does changing music, talking to passengers, or engaging in other activities. It is easy for a distracted driver to drift into oncoming traffic.

Unsafe passing

Aggressive drivers or those in a hurry may take chances when passing other vehicles and cause a head-on collision when passing on two-lane streets.

Losing control around a curve

Going too fast can cause the driver to swing into oncoming traffic and smash into other cars head-on.

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Drunk driving

Drunk driving is a common cause of nearly every kind of accident. Alcohol makes drivers lose focus, drifting into oncoming traffic or smashing into stationary objects.

Fatigued driving

Driving while exhausted or sleepy has almost the same damaging effects as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Reckless or aggressive driving

Speeding, excessive lane changing, and “road rage” often cause drivers to make poor choices that lead to deadly head-on collisions.

Road conditions and design issues contributing to head-on collisions

Poorly designed traffic flow could force drivers into oncoming lanes or collide with light poles or other objects.

Vehicle defects and malfunctions leading to head-on collisions

Faulty control systems from the manufacturer or poor repair work can cause a driver to lose the ability to change speed, leading to a head-on accident.

Confused/lost driver

Drivers unfamiliar with the area may accidentally turn onto a one-way street and into oncoming traffic. Although these accidents may happen at low speeds for each vehicle, remember that the force of a head-on collision is combined. In this scenario, the driver turning the wrong way on a one-way street may only be going 10-15 mph, but oncoming traffic could easily be going 30-40mph, meaning that the cars collide at 40-55 mph.

What sets apart injuries in a head-on collision from those experienced in other types of car accidents?

The physics of a front-to-front crash includes the highest collision force of any type of car accident. This alone means that the people inside will likely have serious impact injuries. The windshields of both cars may shatter, meaning flying glass goes everywhere.
Lacerations can be common, and the chances of a serious head injury also increase. The concussive force of being hit head-on can cause whiplash, too, or cause the brain to hit the inside of the skull, leading to brain bleeding, bruising, or torn tissue. A moderate to severe Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) may leave the victim with permanent brain damage.
These aren’t the only ways victims of a head-on crash can get hurt. Victims often suffer multiple catastrophic injuries, including:

  • Broken bones and fractures
  • Neck and spine injuries, including herniated discs or shattered vertebrae
  • Partial or total paralysis
  • Internal organ damage and internal bleeding, which can cause sepsis
  • Crushing injuries

Recovery can be long and painful, with no guarantee that you’ll fully recover. You may need surgery, a lengthy hospital stay, or physical or occupational therapy. Some people may be permanently disabled or, in cases of head trauma, require treatment and accommodations in a memory care facility or nursing home.

Emotional trauma associated with head-on collisions

Physical trauma isn’t the only way that head-on collision victims suffer. Many people underestimate the emotional impact of a head-on crash. Imagine a car coming at you, full force, and you cannot escape. Victims may suffer several kinds of mental or emotional trauma, too, like:

  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Anxiety and situational anxiety
  • Phobias
  • Depression
  • Fearfulness
  • Insomnia or recurring nightmares

These intense, overwhelming emotions can surface immediately after the accident or develop in the following days and weeks. Your emotional injuries may be just as serious as your physical trauma, requiring therapy, counseling, and medication to recover. Compassionate legal representation can help you navigate the aftermath of a head-on crash.
Head-on collision victims often have life-changing injuries. They may feel depressed or humiliated at a face full of laceration scars or frustrated about their inability to walk, use an arm, or care for themselves and their families. Healing can take months of therapy, and a good Chicago head-on car accident attorney can pursue a settlement that includes your psychological treatment as well as physical injury treatment.

Our Chicago head-on collision lawyers are ready to help

A head-on crash can leave you with significant injuries and a mountain of bills. When another person is responsible for your damages, you need guidance from an experienced Chicago head-on accident lawyer.

At Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates, we stand ready to listen to your story and begin seeking justice for you. Schedule your free consultation with our convenient online form or by calling (800) 985-1819 today.