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Liability in head-on collisions

A busy Louisiana road was the site of a serious head-on accident that left four people injured, one of them seriously. The crash resulted when a westbound compact SUV crossed the centerline into oncoming traffic and collided with another SUV. The accident resulted in moderate to serious injuries for three people in the car that was hit, while the driver of the car that crossed the centerline also suffered moderate injuries.

A head-on collision, even at a relatively slow speed, can cause serious injuries or death, as the force of the crash is multiplied by the combined speed of the two vehicles. Contributing factors commonly include faulty signage or signal function, driver inattention (often due to cellphone use or texting), driver fatigue, poor road conditions, poor visibility or alcohol use.

Every driver has a duty to pay close attention to traffic conditions and follow signage and the basic rules of the road. A driver that drifts across a centerline, even when skidding on a rain-slicked road, can still be found at fault for not exercising due care or for proceeding at an unsafe speed. Additionally, if the driver was under the influence of alcohol or distracted by a cellphone or passenger, the injured occupant of another vehicle can claim negligence.

A party at fault in a head-on motor vehicle accident may be liable for victims’ on-scene emergency treatment, hospitalization, medical bills, physical therapy, prescriptions and any necessary surgery. There may be mitigating factors, however, and both drivers may have a percentage of fault. In this case, the insurance companies involved may attempt a settlement that fairly proportions the covered costs arising from the accident.

Source: The Advocate, “4 injured in head-on collision on Wax Road“, December 27, 2014

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