If you were involved in a head-on collision, the burden of proof will be on you to prove that either negligence or recklessness on behalf of the other driver was the cause of the collision in order for you to recover any damages (doc) from that driver.
In order to prove that negligence or recklessness was the cause of the head-on collision, it needs to be proven that the other driver breached their duty of care.
Duty of care: Every driver has a responsibility to drive safely and behave in a reasonable manner while behind the wheel. If a driver violates this responsibility, say by choosing to drive drunk or fatigued, he or she can be found responsible for the collision.
Choosing to drive drunk or fatigued will likely be considered a breach of duty, as a driver is more likely to end up driving the wrong way or possibly swerving into oncoming traffic in an inebriated or exhausted state. Driving while intoxicated will almost certainly qualify a defendant for punitive damages. (doc
Determining liability in a head-on collision can be challenging because the initial impact is so violent that both cars may end up flying in different directions. The resulting positions of the vehicles after the collision occurred may be completely different than when the impact originally took place.
Liability can be determined, for example, by analyzing skid marks left on the road after a collision, although this isn’t always the case.
What if both drivers are found liable? In these cases, both drivers may bring personal injury claims against one another. Going to trial, for example, is one way to determine who is more responsible for the head-on collision. Of course it is possible to settle outside of court. But if the case goes to trial, a jury will determine exactly how to distribute liability between you and the other driver.
In cases that go to trial, whether you’re able to recover any damages will depend on which theory your state follows: comparative negligence or contributory negligence.
The state of California follows the doctrine of comparative negligence, which means that you may be able to recover some damages even if you played a role in the head-on collision.