Learn how fault is assigned in head-on accidents and how to recover maximum compensation through a personal injury claim in Atlanta.
Head-on collisions rank as some of the most dangerous and deadly car accidents in Georgia and across the U.S. These unfortunate incidents can occur without warning and often happen on highways or major roadways where traffic is meant to proceed in one direction only.
If you were injured in a head-on collision caused by someone else’s negligence, it’s crucial to take certain steps to ensure your rights are protected so you can recover maximum compensation.
If you need help filing a car accident claim after a head-on collision in Georgia, reach out to the experienced Atlanta injury attorneys at Gerber & Holder to schedule a free consultation.
Georgia head-on car crash fatalities are on the rise
According to the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, Georgia experienced nearly 1,800 traffic fatalities in 2021 alone. This marked an uptick of around 150 deaths from the prior year, 2020.
The state’s urban areas saw the majority of the traffic fatalities, with approximately 1,200. Deaths stemming from car accidents in rural areas were roughly half that amount.
Did you know?
According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), head-on collisions account for around 14% of all car accident fatalities annually and 27% of all deaths while departing roadways. Between 2016 and 2018, these accidents were determined to be the most dangerous events on U.S. roads.
What are the common causes of head-on collisions in Georgia?
Head-on collisions don’t just happen. Instead, certain factors often lead to or increase the chances of these types of accidents, including:
- Wrong-way driving. Head-on collisions frequently happen when a driver travels the wrong way down a road or highway due to confusion or unfamiliarity with the location. This is one of the most common causes of such accidents.
- Inattention. Issues like distracted driving or being drowsy behind the wheel can lead to a head-on collision. A driver can veer into the wrong lane even if they move their eyes away from the road for a few quick seconds. Drivers can also get into an accident if they fall asleep behind the wheel, which is common in work-related car accidents where drivers work long hours without sufficient breaks. Even something as simple as daydreaming can cause a head-on collision.
- Drunk driving. Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs causes a driver’s judgment, coordination and reaction time to significantly diminish. This can cause a head-on collision.
- Speeding. When a driver speeds too far above the legal speed limit, especially while traveling on a curve in the road, it can cause their vehicle to swerve into the wrong lane and lead to a head-on collision.
- Poor road conditions. Inclement weather or roads that are in disrepair can cause drivers to lose control of their steering, and head-on collisions can ensue.
- Poor visibility. In foggy conditions or other situations where visibility is poor, a driver may not be able to see, which can cause a head-on collision.
- Tire blowouts and road debris. When a tire blowout occurs or other debris is scattered on the road, a driver can lose control of their vehicle or maneuver to avoid it. In either scenario, a head-on collision can occur.
- Animals or pedestrians. Animals can suddenly appear on the road, or a pedestrian can appear seemingly out of nowhere. When that happens, a driver usually swerves to avoid hitting them. This can lead to a head-on accident.
In the news: Georgia family of 5 killed in head-on crash
In December 2023, a tragic accident occurred in Cleburne, Texas, when a pickup truck collided head-on with a minivan, resulting in the deaths of 6 people, including 5 members of a Georgia family.
The incident took place near Cleburne, about 33 miles south of Fort Worth, when a 17-year-old from Glen Rose, driving a Silverado pickup, veered into a no-passing zone and struck a Honda Odyssey minivan. The minivan’s driver, a 28-year-old from Irving, Texas, and 5 passengers from Alpharetta, Georgia, aged 9 to 64, were killed.
Additionally, 3 others, including a 26-year-old Georgia man and two 17-year-olds from the pickup, were critically injured and transported to a Fort Worth hospital. The crash is still under investigation.
What happens when you have a head-on collision?
Head-on collisions are considered one of the most dangerous types of accidents, so they frequently lead to catastrophic injuries and wrongful deaths. Some of the most common injuries stemming from head-on collisions include the following:
- Traumatic brain injuries. Unsurprisingly, head-on accidents often result in head or brain injuries. This can manifest as a mild concussion or something far worse, like a brain bleed, that results in permanent brain damage.
- Burns. If a fire occurs after a head-on collision or the airbags deploy, it can result in severe burns, which can lead to severe infections, scars and disfigurement.
- Broken bones. Typically, when a head-on accident occurs, victims can be left with fractures. In less serious cases, they may be left with simple fractures. However, many of these accidents result in multiple bone fractures or compound fractures, which cause the bone to push out of place and pierce the skin. These injuries often require surgical repair.
- Spinal cord injuries. Some of the most severe injuries from head-on accidents are spinal cord and back injuries. Depending on the level and severity of the injury, victims can experience chronic pain, permanent disabilities and even paralysis.
- Internal injuries. Head-on collisions commonly result in internal injuries to organs and major blood vessels. These are medical emergencies that can be life-threatening.
- Soft tissue injuries. Soft tissue injuries like lacerations and whiplash often occur in head-on collisions. If lacerations are severe enough, they require surgery. Whiplash can cause pain, stiffness and limited range of motion for weeks or months.
Because many of these injuries are not always immediately evident after a head-on collision, you should always seek immediate medical treatment, even if you feel fine.
Can you get compensation if the accident was your fault in Georgia?
Yes, in some cases, you can. Georgia uses something called the “modified comparative negligence” rule when determining fault in head-on collisions and other car accidents.
This rule allows you to recover damages as long as you are less than 50% at fault for the accident. However, any compensation you are awarded will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
Consider a scenario where a head-on collision occurs in Georgia and both drivers share some level of fault:
Let’s say you were speeding, and the other driver involved in the accident was texting while driving. If the court finds you to be 40% at fault due to speeding and the other driver to be 60% at fault due to texting, then under Georgia’s modified comparative fault rule, you can still recover damages.
However, your compensation will be reduced by your percentage of fault. If your total compensation would have been $100,000, you would only receive $60,000 after the 40% reduction due to your fault.
What evidence is typically needed to prove fault in a head-on collision?
Fault is based on the idea that drivers must exercise a reasonable “duty of care” to prevent accidents.
If they breach that duty (by speeding, texting, etc.) and that breach directly causes an accident that results in injuries and/or financial damages, the injured party may be able to recover compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.
Because Georgia uses modified comparative negligence when determining fault and compensation, it’s imperative that you gather the necessary evidence after a head-on collision to minimize your fault.
Types of evidence that are often helpful in a car accident claim include the following:
- Police report. This is often the first piece of evidence examined. Police reports contain the officer’s observations, details of the accident, statements from the drivers and witnesses, and sometimes the officer’s opinion on who was at fault.
- Medical records. Documentation of injuries sustained in the collision can support claims about the severity and nature of the impact.
- Witness statements. Testimonies from people who saw the accident can provide crucial details about what happened, such as the direction each vehicle was traveling and the behavior of the drivers.
- Accident reconstruction reports. In some cases, experts in accident reconstruction can analyze the evidence to determine the likely sequence of events leading up to the collision.
- Vehicle damage. The extent and location of damage on each vehicle can indicate the point of impact and help infer how the accident occurred.
- Photographs and videos. Pictures or videos from the accident scene, including those taken by witnesses, traffic cameras, or nearby surveillance cameras, can provide visual evidence of the positions of the vehicles, road conditions, traffic signs and damage to the vehicles.
- Driver statements. The accounts of the drivers involved can provide insight into their actions and intentions before the collision.
- Cell phone records. These can be used to establish whether a driver was using their phone at the time of the accident, which might indicate distracted driving.
- Traffic and weather reports. Information about traffic conditions and weather at the time of the accident can help in understanding external factors that might have contributed to the collision.
- Roadway evidence. Skid marks, debris, and other physical evidence on the road can provide information about the vehicles’ paths before the collision.
An experienced car accident attorney can help you gather and preserve the right kind of evidence to prove the other party’s negligence and protect your right to compensation.
What compensation can victims of head-on collisions claim in Georgia?
After a head-on collision, victims are entitled to various types of compensation. This includes:
- Reimbursement for medical expenses, covering both immediate and long-term health care needs resulting from the accident
- Compensation for lost wages and lost earning capacity (both past and future) if the victim’s ability to work is affected
- Pain, suffering and emotional distress damages for the physical, emotional and psychological trauma experienced
- Property damage compensation for repairs or replacement of vehicles and other personal items damaged in the crash
Additionally, in fatal incidents, families can claim funeral and burial expenses, as well as damages for the loss of companionship and emotional suffering due to the death of a loved one.
How long do I have to file a car accident claim in Georgia?
Georgia’s statute of limitations for car accident claims is 2 years. In most cases, you must file your claim with the court within that period if you want to be able to recover compensation for your injuries and other damages from the accident.
Injured in a head-on crash in Georgia? Gerber & Holder can help!
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or killed in a head-on collision in Georgia caused by someone else’s negligence, don’t wait to get the legal help you need.
At Gerber & Holder, our skilled Atlanta injury attorneys offer free consultations to answer your questions and help you understand how much your claim should be worth.
Contact us today so we can assist you in recovering the justice and compensation you deserve.
Traffic Data – Home | Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. (n.d.). https://www.gahighwaysafety.org/traffic-data/