Hundreds of people all around the U.S. die in fatal head-on traffic accidents involving a range of vehicles, from passenger cars, SUVs and minivans to semi tractor-trailers, commercial delivery trucks and even motorcycles. The mere physics of a head-on roadway collision can spell danger to most any occupant who is unlucky enough to be riding in one of the vehicles involved in such accidents. As Maryland personal injury attorneys, I and my legal staff understand the stakes of such collisions.
When vehicles of equal mass, or weight, collide with each other, it is a fair bet that the drivers and passengers of both vehicles will experience similar effects of that crash. Modern passenger cars are better designed to absorb a significant amount of impact energy from a head-on traffic crash than those of even a decade ago. But depending on each vehicle’s speed at the time of the wreck, there may be very little margin for survival. Still, fate can sometimes intervene and surprise even the most pessimistic observer.
While many head-ons are fatal — killing at least one of the vehicles’ drivers and/or passengers — other collisions can result in multiple injuries of varying degree. Depending on a variety of factors, occupants in the vehicles involved in a head-on traffic collision may receive only minor injuries all the way up to head, neck and spinal cord injuries. Surviving these kinds of injuries can, for some victims, be a miracle in and of itself, but recovering from a massive head injury (also known as traumatic brain injury) can be a long uphill struggle with many individuals fighting a continuous battle for months or years.
When a serious head-on crash does occur, determining a cause is typically the job of the local law enforcement or state police. Crash scene investigators and accident reconstruction experts can analyze the crash site and piece together the accident, giving others — such as the local prosecutor’s office — important information for determining fault, if any. Some crashes have no survivors, while others leave one or more witnesses. However, these kinds of traumatic events can leave many victims with gaps in memory or other physical, emotional and psychological scars.
Earlier this year two people were killed and a third man injured when two vehicles collided along a stretch of roadway in Fallston, MD. According to news articles at the time, local police knew rather quickly which driver was likely at fault. Based on information coming out of the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, a commercial vehicle being driven by a Bel Air man smashed head-on into an oncoming SUV on a Tuesday morning last May.
Police reports indicated that the accident occurred on a stretch of Rte 152 near Reckord Rd in Fallston. A Harford County Public Schools utility truck carrying the 59-year-old driver and a 36-year-old passenger, both employees of the county, apparently crossed the centerline, causing the accident.
Police stated that the utility truck crashed into the oncoming GMC Terrain, which itself was hit from behind by a Jeep that was following the GMC. The driver of the Terrain was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident, while the driver of the county vehicle was critically injured and had to be air-lifted out to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center for treatment; however, the man died later that day. The passenger in the county vehicle and the driver of the Jeep were both taken to Shock Trauma Center and were apparently in stable condition at the time of the news article.
While the county vehicle crossing the centerline was the cause of the accident, police had yet to determine whether human error or mechanical trouble was the major factor that precipitated the crash. While not always a major cause, defective vehicle equipment has been known to be a significant factor in a percentage of severe and fatal traffic collisions.
Fallston Accident Kills Essex, Bel Air Men; Patch.com; May 8, 2012