Front-end accidents occur when two vehicles strike each other head-on. These collisions often result in serious injury or death because the forces involved are so powerful. Shockingly, a driver hurt in a head-on collision involving two vehicles traveling at 40 mph would suffer the same kind of injuries as a driver who struck a brick wall or tree while traveling at 80 mph. Front-end accidents are usually caused by vehicles that cross the centerline or median of a roadway and enter the path of oncoming traffic.
Who Does a Driver Involved in a Front-end Collision Sue?
If you decide to take legal action after being injured in an accident caused by a vehicle that struck you head-on, you will probably file a lawsuit against the driver of the other car. Drivers who stray into the path of oncoming vehicles are often fatigued, distracted or impaired by drugs or alcohol. However, there are situations where others could be to blame.
For instance, if the vehicle that struck you had some sort of mechanical failure caused by a defective part or botched repair, you could sue the car manufacturer or an automobile repair facility. If the accident was caused by a misplaced sign, faulty traffic signal or unrepaired road damage, your lawsuit could be filed against a government agency. No matter who happens to be sitting in the defendant’s chair, though, their legal action will be based on the civil tort of negligence.
The Elements of a Negligence Claim
Plaintiffs who base their lawsuits on the tort of negligence must demonstrate the following two elements of a negligence claim for it to be valid:
- Establish that the defendant owed them a duty of care and then prove that this duty was not met.
- Satisfy the court that they suffered an injury, loss or damage due to the result of the defendant’s failure to meet their duty of care.
What is Duty of Care?
Establishing that a duty of care existed is usually straightforward in lawsuits filed by road users who have been injured in front-end collisions. After all, drivers are expected to do all that they reasonably can to avoid accidents.
In the eyes of the law, reasonable duty of care means drivers should obey traffic laws and ensure that their vehicles are safe and operating properly. Car manufacturers are expected to produce vehicles free of dangerous defects, and local authorities are expected to ensure that roadways are safe to use and properly maintained.
Failure to Meet Duty of Care
Demonstrating that the defendant failed to meet their duty of care is the part of a lawsuit where blame is allocated, and it can become extremely contentious when defendants raise arguments based on comparative negligence. However, this may be less challenging when a front-end collision is involved, as it would be difficult to argue that a driver who remained in their correct lane acted negligently.
A comparative negligence argument might be made if the plaintiff was traveling well in excess of the posted speed limit and was struck by a car making a passing maneuver that would otherwise have been safe.
Establishing Injury, Loss or Damage
To establish that a plaintiff suffered injury, loss or damage, negligence lawsuits introduce evidence such as medical records, health care bills and insurance estimates. It is crucial that these arguments are supported by compelling documents or witness testimony as they will determine how much compensation the plaintiff will be awarded should they prevail.
Road users injured in traffic accidents often suffer injuries that require ongoing treatment that can last for months or even years, which means that the plaintiffs in negligence lawsuits often seek compensation for expenses that they will be required to pay in the future. When this issue is addressed in court, experienced personal injury attorneys could call on medical specialists or other experts to explain to the jury how much pain and suffering the plaintiff endured and what their long-term prognosis is.
When car accident victims suffer injuries that prevent them from working, their attorneys may seek compensation for their lost income. In addition to paychecks that the plaintiff did not or will not receive, lost income damages can cover promotions or other opportunities that were missed because of the defendant’s reckless actions.
Proving that the plaintiff’s injuries were the direct result of the defendant’s negligent actions involves passing what is known as the “but for” test. The plaintiff must convince the court that but for the defendant’s tortious behavior, they would not have been harmed. This can be a difficult test to pass when both parties acted negligently, but this is not usually the case when the plaintiff was injured in a front-end collision.
Defenses in Front-end Accident Lawsuits
There is not much a driver could say that would adequately explain crossing into the path of oncoming traffic and striking another vehicle head-on, but there are a few arguments they could make. They could mount an affirmative defense based on necessity if they swerved into the path of oncoming traffic to avoid greater harm, such as striking a child who ran out into the road. They could also argue that damages should be reduced if the plaintiff aggravated an existing injury.
Consulting with an Experienced Attorney
Pursuing a car accident lawsuit can be difficult and frustrating. This aspect may be especially true when the plaintiff suffered severe injuries, and the defendant could be ordered to pay significant damages. Before embarking on this path, you may wish to contact an experienced car accident attorney who could evaluate your case and help you to gather the evidence you will need to establish negligence.
The Moynahan Law Firm has been helping car accident victims in Waterbury, CT, for more than 30 years, and we could advocate on your behalf both at the negotiating table and in court. If you or someone close to you has been involved in a front-end collision, please contact us online or call today at (203) 597-6364 for a free consultation.