Head-on collisions are some of the most destructive types of crashes that can occur between motor vehicles. When two vehicles moving in opposite directions collide front-to-front there is a rapid momentum change and the amount of force that was moving forward is suddenly transferred back in the opposite direction.
When two vehicles of relatively similar size crash head-on, the effects can be devastating, but they create a roughly equal amount of force against each vehicle. But when a larger vehicle and a smaller vehicle hit each other head-on, the force impacting the smaller vehicle is much more damaging than the force impacting the larger vehicle.
A head-on collision between a large commercial truck and a passenger vehicle often has catastrophic results for the occupants of the passenger vehicle. The Tulsa head-on collision attorneys at Graves McLain are intimately familiar with the tragic aftermath of head-on traffic accidents between cars and tractor-trailer trucks.
Hiring an attorney after a head-on collision with a large truck can help someone who has been seriously injured make some sense of what has happened and assist them with developing a strategy for the best way to move forward.
Lawyers experienced in handling claims from particular types of accidents help clients understand their legal rights and identify the claims that can be made. Attorneys take over communications with all involved parties. They gather the evidence necessary to prove fault for an accident and to support the most favorable award of compensation for an injured client.
Attorneys are in the unique position of knowing the law and understanding its practical application in the local areas or communities where they practice. They can combine that knowledge with the circumstances of a head-on collision to obtain the best possible results for clients.
Head-on collisions do not occur as frequently as other types of motor vehicle accidents but when they do occur they tend to have far more serious consequences. In 2019, head-on collisions accounted for less than 4% of the total collisions between vehicles in transport but were responsible for almost 28% of the nation’s traffic fatalities, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Of the total collisions between vehicles involving large trucks, about 42% of the 417,000 crashes were front-end impacts. Those front-end impacts resulted in 57% of the 3,763 fatality accidents between large trucks and other vehicles.
The Oklahoma Highway Safety Office reported there were 4,784 large truck crashes in 2020. About 77% of those accidents involved a big truck and one or more other vehicles. Tulsa recorded 576 big truck accidents resulting in seven fatalities and 16 serious injuries.
When vehicles hit each other head-on, it means one of the drivers is in the wrong lane. Drivers end up in the wrong lane sometimes by accident and sometimes because they may be engaging in unsafe driving behaviors. Common reasons drivers find themselves in the wrong driving lane include:
There are certainly other scenarios where a head-on collision may occur on Oklahoma roadways. The reality is that negligent and careless driving behavior can lead to devastating injuries, and everyone on the roadway should practice defensive driving techniques.
Most people have a pretty good idea that getting into a head-on car crash will be very serious and will not intentionally engage in driving behavior that could result in such devastation. While no one ever wants or expects to get in a head-on collision, certain circumstances that affect the attention of a driver make it more likely that a head-on collision will occur.
Wrong-way driving is an all too common problem on Oklahoma’s roadways that leads to head-on collisions, often with deadly results. According to an Oklahoma news source, 24 people were killed on the state’s roads in wrong-way driving accidents in 2019.
In an attempt to discourage wrong-way driving and avoid the often fatal accidents that result, 2 News reported that the Oklahoma Department of Transportation is initiating a pilot program at some of the state’s most notorious wrong-way driving sites. The program will use LED technology to dramatically increase warning signs and visibility at some of the most confusing interchanges along the highways and interstates. Sensors will detect when a driver enters a road going the wrong way and can alert local law enforcement if the driver fails to turn around.
When a passenger vehicle collides head-on with a tractor-trailer truck, there is the possibility that the passenger car is low enough to slide underneath the front of the truck. The term for an accident when this happens is called underride, and it is an even more serious type of crash due to the inability of the passenger vehicle to shield the occupants from the crash impact.
The impact point between the truck and the passenger car is at the hood – or worse at the windshield – when underride occurs. Thus the impact protection benefits built-in at the front of a car are entirely missed leaving the vehicle occupants completely vulnerable. Current laws do not require trucks to install front guards that could prevent front underride accidents.
Injuries experienced in head-on collisions are often serious due to the force of the impact. The sheer size and weight of large trucks put passenger vehicles at an extreme disadvantage in any type of accident. The impact from a head-on collision will result in more or less serious injuries depending on the amount of force that is applied to the body.
Injuries likely in a head-on collision include:
A particular danger in head-on collisions with trucks especially is that the passenger car cabin can collapse from the crash impact causing often lethal crushing-type injuries to the occupants.
Head-on collisions are serious and frequently deadly. Practicing certain driving behaviors can help minimize the chances of getting in a head-on crash.
At times there may be no question as to who was at fault in a head-on collision – as in a crash occurring on an exit ramp caused by a driver trying to use it to enter the roadway. But in other situations, it may not be as clear exactly who or what set in motion the chain of events that led to the accident. Determining liability may require the opinions of experts based on an investigation of the accident scene and a reconstruction of the events that occurred.
In Oklahoma, fault for a head-on collision will be apportioned among the persons or entities found to have some responsibility for the crash. Persons injured in head-on collisions are entitled to recover compensation for their injuries and property damage so long as their responsibility for the accident is not more than those they are seeking recovery from.
A finding of liability on the part of a truck’s driver, a trucking company, a truck’s manufacturer, or another party that may have some responsibility for causing a head-on collision is a crucial first step in determining whether and how much compensation can be recovered.
Learn more about your rights after a head-on accident with a tractor-trailer or other large truck.
Schedule a free case evaluation with a Tulsa head-on truck collision attorney at the law firm of Graves McLain by calling 918-359-6600 or contact Graves McLain here.
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