North Carolina Head-On Collisions


Head-on collisions are some of the most severe motor vehicle accidents that occur on North Carolina roads. This is especially true when both vehicles are traveling at highway speeds when they collide with each other. They are also sometimes called “frontal” impacts.

Head-on collisions are almost always the result of negligent or reckless driving. Despite evasive maneuvers by an innocent driver, a devastating crash may be inevitable, if another motorist crosses the centerline. Major injuries, such as traumatic brain injury (TBI), spinal cord injury, paraplegia, quadriplegia, fractures, herniated discs, and internal injuries are not uncommon in major head-on collisions.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 36,560 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2018. The NHTSA reported that there were 3,471 fatal head on collisions in 2018.

According to the NHTSA, North Carolina reported 1,437 deaths due to motor vehicle crashes in 2018. This was an increase of 1.8% from the previous year (1,412).

North Carolina Negligence Law

North Carolina negligence law provides a remedy for victims who have been hurt or even killed in a head-on crash caused by a careless driver. It is important to note that the rule of pure contributory negligence followed in North Carolina prevents people whose own negligence contributed to an accident from receiving damages from any other at-fault party. In most frontal collisions, though, there is no reasonable contributory negligence defense, despite what an auto insurer may say.

It is highly recommended that an injured person contacts an attorney as soon as possible after a frontal impact wreck. While insurers may pretend to be on your side early on in a case, they will often later deny responsibility. By that time, it may be too late for you or your attorneys to hire the necessary accident reconstruction engineer. These engineers are skilled at evaluating the scene of a head-on wreck and evaluating the vehicles involved to determine which drive crossed the center line

If negligence can be proven after a North Carolina head-on collision, the victim can recover damages for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, property damage, and the costs of future treatment, among other items. If the crash resulted in a tragic death, the victim’s family may be able to pursue a wrongful death claim against the negligent motorist who caused the frontal wreck.

Wrongful Death Claim

North Carolina statute G.S. 18-2(a) provides that,

When the death of a person is caused by a wrongful act, neglect or default of another, such as would, if the injured person had lived, have entitled the injured person to an action for damages therefor, the person or corporation that would have been so liable, and the personal representatives or collectors of the person or corporation that would have been so liable, shall be liable to an action for damages, to be brought by the personal representative or collector of the decedent; and this notwithstanding the death, and although the wrongful act, neglect or default, causing the death, amounts in law to a felony.

A wrongful death suit is based on a theory of negligence. So, the same elements must be proven in a wrongful death suit as in any negligence case – a legal duty (such as the duty to follow the rules of the road and North Carolina traffic safety statutes), breach of that duty, causation (both actual and proximate), and damages.

The types of damages recoverable in a wrongful death suit include, expenses for treatment, care or hospitalization incident that resulted in death, compensation for pain and suffering, the reasonable funeral expenses of the decedent, the present monetary value of the decedent to the persons entitled to receive the damages recovered, including but not limited to compensation for the loss of the reasonably expected.

Representation for Head-On Collisions

Maginnis Law’s head personal injury attorney, T. Shawn Howard is experienced in handling head on collision/wrongful death personal injury cases. Mr. Howard is a million dollar and multi-million-dollar advocate, meaning that he has obtain settlements for his client in excess of $1,000,000 and $2,000,000. He has also been designated a Super Lawyers Rising Star every year since 2016.

In 2018, Mr. Howard was able to recover $2,930,952 in settlement for the family of the victim of a head-on collision.

If you would like to schedule a free consultation with Shawn, call Maginnis Law at 919.480.0450 or call Shawn personally at 919.480.8526. You can also visit our contact page or email our firm at