When you think about two vehicles colliding head-on after barreling down the road at high speeds, you can just imagine the resulting devastation. However, statistics reveal just how deadly and destructive frontal crashes can be. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), there were more than 3,600 fatal head-on accidents in 2018, representing almost 11 percent of all collisions that caused death to at least one person. Plus:
- There is a 58 percent fatality rate for occupants of vehicles in frontal collisions;
- Head-ons are more likely in rural areas, comprising 13 percent of all fatal accidents; and
- Frontal impact crashes are responsible for 57 percent of all passenger vehicle occupant deaths, whereas side impacts were linked to 23 percent of fatalities.
If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one in a head-on collision, it may be reassuring to know that you have legal remedies under Georgia law. Time is of the essence in these cases, so it is important to work with a skilled Conyers, GA car accident attorney who knows the relevant deadlines. You might also benefit from reviewing some general information on head-on crashes and how long you have to file a case.
Georgia’s Statute Of Limitations
Every US state has a time restriction on filing a lawsuit for personal injuries, including cases involving car accidents and other head-on collisions. In Georgia, victims of motor vehicle crashes have two years after the incident to sue the at-fault driver. If you miss this deadline, you are forever barred from recovering compensation for your losses. Two years might seem like a long time, but keep in mind that you might still be receiving treatment for your injuries; you could also be embroiled in settlement negotiations with the responsible motorist’s insurance company.
Though rare, there are exceptions to the statute of limitations that may pause the clock and give you additional time. The deadline may be extended for frontal crash victims who are minors or suffer from incapacity, or if the defendant leaves Georgia before the victim is able to serve the lawsuit.
Extreme Dangers In Head-On Crashes
The physics of a front-to-front collision are what makes these incidents so deadly. Energy is not deflected like it would be in a sideswipe or rear-end impact where both vehicles are traveling in the same direction. Instead, the two vehicles will essentially share the force behind their combined speeds. In other words, if both cars are traveling at 60 miles per hour and strike head-on, the impact is 60 mph. Beyond this basic concept, vehicle weight, weather, road conditions, and other factors may also affect the force of the collision.
Because of how physics affects frontal accidents, one of the most common types of injuries is traumatic brain injury (TBI). The implications may range from a minor concussion to serious, penetrating brain trauma, but these injuries occur due to an extreme blow to the head. The brain may strike against the hard bone of the skull, which can disrupt the normal functioning of the brain.
It is also common for victims of head-on collisions to sustain:
- Spinal cord injuries, which often lead to paralysis;
- Trauma to internal organs;
- Injuries to the lower extremities;
- Bone fractures;
- Soft tissue injuries, such as whiplash or herniated or bulging spinal discs;
- Scrapes, abrasions, and lacerations; and
- Many others.
Your Legal Rights and Deadlines
While head-on accidents are unique in the catastrophic damage they can cause, they still proceed according to the same laws that cover other traffic collisions. The principles of negligence apply, so you must prove the following elements to recover monetary damages:
- The responsible motorist had a duty to drive safely;
- That driver breached this legal duty of care;
- The breach of duty was the direct cause of the head-on crash; and
- You suffered losses as a result of being hurt.
The first step in the legal process is usually filing a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. You might expect to receive payment after filling out some forms, but you will likely encounter challenges. Your claim represents a potential loss to the company, so the insurer will try to find reasons to deny or make a lowball counteroffer to settle. If you cannot resolve your claim by agreement, you will need to initiate litigation. Based upon Georgia’s statute of limitations, you have two years from the date of the accident to sue in court.
Regardless of whether you settle with an insurance company or resort to litigation, you may be entitled to a wide range of compensation as the victim of a head-on accident. The details vary based upon your situation, but monetary damages are available for:
- Medical costs;
- Lost wages, if you were unable to work because of your injuries;
- Pain and suffering;
- Scarring and disfigurement; and
- Losses that affect your personal relationships and quality of life.
What To Do After A Head-On Collision In Georgia
The most important task in the aftermath of a crash is getting the medical attention you need for your injuries. Seeking proper care will get you on the right track to heal, but it also preserves your rights when filing a claim for compensation. Depending on your physical condition, you should also take photos and video of the scene, talk to witnesses, and note any businesses nearby.
Note that you should avoid making statements to other motorists, other than to exchange contact information. You could reveal too much, which may harm your interests in the legal process.
Contact A Georgia Car Accident Lawyer To Discuss Your Remedies
This overview of head-on collisions may help you understand how long you have to file a claim, but the information should also convince you of how important it is to retain experienced legal counsel. Instead of putting your rights and compensation at risk, trust our team at MG Law to advocate on your behalf. For additional details on your options, please contact our firm to schedule a free consultation. We can meet with you at our offices in Conyers, Covington, or Atlanta, GA to discuss your claim and next steps.