What Injuries Are Most Commonly Seen After a Head-On Car Accident?

March 7, 2022

No one wishes to be in an auto accident, especially not a head-on car accident. Unfortunately, though, several Americans suffer motor vehicle crashes annually. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that over 100 people die daily in the US from motor vehicle collisions. Accidents don’t just kill people, though. 

Instead, many crash survivors also sustain different types of injuries. Notably, there are several types of car crashes. Each collision type determines the severity of the injury. However, one of the most dangerous car accidents is collisions involving head-on impact.

These accidents often leave their victims suffering severe blunt force injuries. In addition, they usually require emergency care. The victims also take time to resume normal activities. Therefore, the cost of medical treatment is usually high. For these reasons, it might be a good idea to contact a Boston car accident attorney. An excellent lawyer can help you get financial compensation for your losses. 

What Is a Head-On Car Accident?

Car accidents involving head-on impact are self-explanatory. They refer to accidents where the front parts of two vehicles crash into each other. Furthermore, a head-on car accident occurs when vehicles are traveling from opposite directions. This could involve two cars or cars and a motorcycle, truck, or bicycle. 

Sometimes, these crashes are called lane-departure or road-departure accidents. This is because one of the two vehicles must have left their lane. Since both vehicles crash into the other’s front, such accidents are often fatal. In 2019, there were 3,613 fatal accidents involving head-on impact. This figure accounted for 10% of that year’s accident fatalities.

When head-on collisions aren’t fatal, the victims sustain a severe injury. Facial injuries aren’t unusual, especially if the driver’s face hits the steering wheel. Bicyclists and motorcyclists often wear protective headgear. This equipment can avoid blunt force injuries to the head during accidents. 

Unfortunately, vehicle drivers don’t have such luxury. The most they can rely on is their seat belt. Seat belts can prevent the accident impact from ejecting the occupants from the car. Notably, car drivers can rely on the vehicle’s airbags, too. If they deploy, they can protect the driver from severe injury. 

Why Are Head-On Collisions More Dangerous Than Other Accidents?

Statistics above have clearly shown that head-on collisions are pretty dangerous. But why is this so? Head-on accidents destroy the vehicles’ front. Therefore, it significantly endangers the car’s occupants. The impact of both vehicles also contributes to this danger. For example, a head-on crash doubles the impact of both vehicles. 

Suppose both cars were traveling at 25 mph. Upon the collision, the accident impact is 50mph. At this stage, the accident will be as deadly as a vehicle crashing into a stationary object at 50 mph. This force usually shatters the front of both cars sending debris flying. Debris here would include glass, vehicle parts, and shrapnel. Such dangerous materials and the accident impact are what hurt the drivers.

Causes of Head-On Car Accidents

Several factors cause car accidents involving head-on impact. Some of them generally apply to other crashes. However, they also contribute to head-on collisions in peculiar ways. We explain some of these factors below.

Bad Weather Conditions

Bad weather conditions can cause head-on car accidents. Examples of inclement weather include fog, snow, heavy rainfall, or ice. Firstly, fogs make it more challenging to see the road ahead. Therefore, a driver can stray into another lane mistakenly because they didn’t see oncoming vehicles. Similarly, snow and ice often make the road slippery. So, drivers can lose control of their vehicles. This loss of control can then result in a head-on collision.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving occurs whenever a car driver removes their attention from the road. In such cases, the driver often lets go of the steering wheel. This then makes them lose control of their vehicle. Therefore, a distracted driver can drift onto the opposing lane. Such drifting usually then leads to severe head-on car accidents. That’s why it’s best to let go of all forms of distraction while driving. 

Intoxicated Driving 

Driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol can cause any kind of accident. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that 29 people die in drunk-driving accidents daily. However, many drivers still can’t abandon the bottle before driving. Alcohol reduces brain functions for extended periods. It also affects reasoning and muscle activity. So, intoxication can affect a driver’s ability to react to avoid head-on crashes.

Bad Roads

Roads can get so bad that drivers have to enter opposing lanes to avoid the bad spots. When this happens, vehicle drivers have to avoid crashing into oncoming vehicles. Therefore, even a mildly negligent driver can cause a head-on collision while avoiding bad spots.

What Injury Is Most Seen After a Head-On Car Accident?

Head-on car accidents leave victims with several injuries. For example, a survivor could sustain a spinal cord injury. Similarly, the crash could harm their internal organs. However, head injuries are the most common result of a head-on collision. This is because the crash causes the victim’s head to hit different vehicle parts.

In addition, the victim could be thrown out of the car onto the road. The head injuries following an accident with head-on impact are similar to abusive injuries or sports injuries. Whatever the case, the following injuries could result:

  • Facial injuries
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Skull fractures

A head-on collision can also cause blast injuries. These can occur if the vehicles explode from impact. Furthermore, the most common of these three possible wounds are traumatic brain injuries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define a traumatic brain injury (TBI) as an injury that affects the brain’s workings. It’s a major cause of death and disability in the US.

In fact, in 2019, 166 Americans died from TBI-related injuries daily. TBI is also called craniocerebral trauma. It happens when a sudden, external and physical assault affects the brain. TBI can result from blows, bumps, or jolts to the head. 

However, TBI doesn’t refer to a single injury. Instead, it covers a wide range of wounds resulting from traumatic situations. TBI in children is often called shaken baby syndrome. This syndrome arises when a child’s head is shaken during an accident.  

Traumatic brain injuries can affect one part of the brain. On the other hand, they can spread to several portions of the brain. So, they’re often referred to as focal or diffuse axonal brain injuries. In addition, a TBI could be a mild injury or a severe wound, leading to death.

Potential Fallouts From a Traumatic Brain Injury

TBIs often increase intracranial pressure (ICP). Increased intracranial pressure is a rise in pressure within the skull. Usually, you can trace this pressure to an increase in the fluid surrounding the brain. This increased pressure results from primary or secondary brain injury. 

In addition, it can cause new injuries within the brain. ICP can also be a sign of cerebral swelling. This is vital because traumatic brain injuries often lead to brain swelling. Swelling is the body’s reaction to many types of wounds. A bone fragment in the head can rupture blood vessels, leading to swellings. 

The severity of injury usually determines the extent of brain swelling. That’s why it’s important to get urgent medical care following a head-on car accident. Traumatic brain injuries and brain swelling aren’t physically visible. So, without medical care, they’re pretty undetectable. Sadly, though, they’re both often fatal.

Types of Traumatic Brain Injury

There are various types of traumatic brain injury. The two main types include:

Closed Brain Injuries

Closed brain injuries occur when there is no break in the skull. Instead, there’s blunt force trauma to the head without penetrating the head. Closed brain injuries thus result from sharp forward and backward shaking of the head. The banging of the brain against the bony skull thus tears or bruises the soft tissues of the brain. In head-on accidents, the vehicle’s summersault can have this effect.

Penetrating Brain Injury

As the name implies, penetrating brain injuries occur when objects break through the skull. In a head-on collision, glass or shrapnel can penetrate the head and cause internal injuries within the brain. This is why this TBI type is also called open head injury. 

Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injuries

The symptoms of a traumatic brain injury depend on the severity of the injury. However, anyone suffering a TBI can show the following signs:

  • Loss of balance
  • Loss of memory
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Injuries to soft tissues in the head
  • Concussions
  • Weakness and drowsiness
  • Sadness and depression
  • Tremors
  • Changes in hearing, vision, and taste
  • Speaking difficulties
  • Impaired social capacity
  • Irritability

Pediatric patients can also have unique symptoms. These include:

  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Irritability and continuous crying
  • Unusual eating patterns
  • Drowsiness
  • Loss of interest in favorite toys and activities

Therefore, suppose you notice any of these signs after a head-on collision. Then, it’ll be best to visit your medical provider. 

Understanding Brain injuries

Head injuries following a head-on collision may be divided into two. These include coup and contrecoup injuries. 

Contrecoup Injuries

Contrecoup injuries occur far from the brain part that sustained the accident impact. This is usually the opposite part of the head impact. For example, suppose blunt force trauma was applied to the left side of the brain. Then, the brain swelling will be on the opposite side of the impact point. Therefore, the victim’s blunt force injuries will appear on the right part of the brain. Contrecoup injuries occur when the moving head strikes a fixed object.

Coup Injuries

A coup injury is the direct opposite of contrecoup injuries. This type of wound occurs at the site of the head impact. Therefore, suppose there’s blunt force trauma to the left part of the head-on collision victim’s head. Then, blunt force injuries will appear in the left part of the brain. 

Notably, coup injuries occur when a moving object strikes a stationary head. Whatever the case, you can identify both injury types using CT scans or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). They usually leave intracerebral hemorrhage on the injury site. Finally, there are also coup contrecoup injuries.

These are brain injuries that occur both at the trauma site and opposite the impact point. Coup and contrecoup injuries are significant wounds. You can also consider each as a primary brain injury.

Therefore, after a head-on collision, it’s best to visit your healthcare provider. This urgency is necessary to prevent the development of a secondary injury. A secondary brain injury is any change that occurs after the initial injury. These happen over hours and days following the primary injury.  

Types of Head Bleeding After a Head-On Motor Vehicle Collision

Head-on car accidents usually affect blood vessels in the head. So, any common injury to the head can result in bleeding. A severe head injury such as a skull fracture can result in such bleeding. Even a mild head injury can lead to bleeding in the head.

Below are the different types of bleeding in the head.

Intraventricular Hemorrhage

Intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH) refers to bleeding into the brain’s ventricular system. It’s also called intraventricular bleeding. Intraventricular hemorrhage usually follows physical trauma or hemorrhagic stroke. Therefore, blunt force trauma to the head from a car accident can result in IVH. 

Intracerebral Hemorrhage

Intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) is also known as cerebral bleeding. Intracerebral hematomas refer to sudden bleeding into the brain’s tissues or ventricles. If you have this kind of bleeding after a crash, you’ll experience peculiar symptoms. These would include:

  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Neck stiffness similar to that from whiplash injuries
  • Fever

Subarachnoid Hemorrhage

Subarachnoid hemorrhage is any bleeding within the space between the brain and its covering tissues. This type of bleeding demands emergency medical attention. This is because, if it’s ignored, subarachnoid hemorrhage can lead to brain damage or death.

Proving Liability in a Boston Head-On Car Accident

Fault is often important in car accident cases. Boston, Massachusetts follows the no-fault accident system. Therefore, the victim of a head-on car accident has to bear their losses from the crash. However, you can file a claim against the fault driver in some cases. This is usually the case for vehicle damage claims. In addition, you can recover compensation for high medical bills. 

So, determining liability in a car accident in Boston is vital. Since head-on or frontal collision accidents involve one party straying from their lane, the responsible driver is usually the one who crosses into the opposite lane. However, frontal collisions often knock the cars into different locations. It can thus be challenging to determine which driver crossed over. 

Fortunately, an excellent car accident attorney can exploit other means of investigation. For example, one could employ an accident reconstructionist. This expert recreates the car crash to determine the liable party. 

Video Evidence 

Many parts of American roads also have CCTV cameras. If there are no cameras on the road, you can check in neighboring establishments. Even some vehicles have dash cams. Therefore, you can check the video recording of the accident. This piece of evidence can identify the negligent driver. 


Car accident witnesses can also help establish liability. A witness must have seen the collision when it occurred. So, they can testify concerning the negligent driver. However, you must ensure that your witnesses are credible. If they aren’t reliable, the court wouldn’t consider their testimony. 

How Long Do You Have To Sue After a Head-On Car Accident?

Short answer? You don’t have forever to sue a negligent driver following a head-on collision. Massachusetts laws dictate how soon you must institute personal injury lawsuits. This is the case with most civil lawsuits in Boston. 

The relevant law here is the Statute of Limitations. This time limitation applies to all Massachusetts personal injury lawsuits. Therefore, you must institute legal action within three years of the accident. The date starts counting from the accident date.

Similarly, suppose an accident victim dies. Then, their estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit. However, they must institute the claim within three years of the death. If the injured party disregards this statutory period, they may lose their right to compensation. The defendant merely has to notify the judge of this default. So, it’s best to hire a Boston car accident attorney. An experienced lawyer will ensure you keep to this deadline. 

Recover Your Losses With a Boston Car Accident Lawyer

Blunt force trauma from head-on collisions can significantly affect brain functions and daily living. Recovering normal brain function will thus require costly procedures such as diagnostic imaging. Even secondary damage to the brain is costly. So, it’ll be best to file a car accident claim against the fault party. First, however, you’ll need an excellent Boston car accident lawyer.

At Michael Kelly Injury Lawyers, our Boston personal injury attorneys have spent years helping victims of traumatic injuries. We’ve also won large amounts of compensation for our clients. We have the necessary skills to get you the money you deserve. So, call us today for a FREE consultation. 

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Michael D. Kelly has a diverse background that provides a breadth of legal knowledge that he draws upon in serving his clients. Kelly compiled an excellent academic record during his three years at New England Law in Boston.