Determining Fault in a Head-On Collision Case in New York

Head-on collisions occur whenever two vehicles collide with one another when traveling in opposite directions. Head-on collisions represent a relatively small percentage of all types of car accidents in New York, yet they are responsible for a disproportionate number of deadly crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that head-on collisions account for only about 2 percent of all reported motor vehicle wrecks, yet they cause nearly 11 percent of all road fatalities.

If you were injured in a head-on collision, or if you lost a loved one in a head-on accident, it is essential to seek advice from a Rochester car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Depending upon the specific facts of your case, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.

When it comes to fault in a head-on collision, how can you prove that the other driver was at fault and is responsible for damages? We want to discuss a few key issues that speak to fault determinations in head-on crashes.

Driver Traveling the Wrong Way is Usually At Fault

Unlike other types of motor vehicle collisions in which it can be more complicated to determine fault, in a head-on crash, the driver who was traveling the wrong way is typically going to be at fault for the accident. For example, if a head-on collision occurred when one driver crossed over a median, or over the double lines separating a two-lane or four-lane road, that driver is likely going to be clearly at fault.

Comparative Fault Can Affect Your Damages

Even when another motorist is clearly at fault for a head-on collision, the injured person’s own negligence may reduce his or her damages as a result of comparative fault. New York is a pure comparative fault state, which means a plaintiff will not be barred from recovery because of her own fault, but her damages award can be reduced by her percentage of fault. A plaintiff might be partially at fault in a head-on collision if, for example, the plaintiff was texting or talking on a phone at the time of the collision, or otherwise distracted.

Fault Will Only Matter If You Can Meet the Serious Injury Threshold

In order to file a lawsuit against an at-fault driver in a head-on collision, New York law requires you to meet a “serious injury” threshold. To be clear, since New York is a no-fault state, people who sustain injuries in car accidents typically need to seek compensation from their own auto insurance policies through their personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. Then, if the injured person has a “serious injury” as New York law defines it, that person may be eligible to file a car accident lawsuit. Accordingly, proving fault in a head-on crash will only be necessary if you want to seek compensation beyond an insurance settlement and if you can prove that your injuries are “serious” under New York law.

How We Can Help

Were you injured in a head-on collision or another type of motor vehicle crash in upstate New York? One of our experienced Rochester car accident lawyers can evaluate your case and help you to determine your options for seeking financial compensation. Contact King Law today for more information.


May 26, 2022

When Are Property Owners Responsible for Personal Injuries?
Read More

November 17, 2023

New York Passes Clean Slate Act
Read More

August 31, 2022

Answers to Your FAQs About Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Claim
Read More

August 25, 2022

4 Rules When You Get Pulled Over for DWI in New York
Read More