The National Transportation Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that nearly 8,000 people die annually from T-bone accidents. Damage sustained in a T-bone accident due to driver negligence can lead to catastrophic injuries or death.
T-bone accidents increased by 20 percent over the past 20 years. These accidents account for 13 percent of traffic accidents in the US and 18 percent of fatal accidents. A T-bone accident happens when a car collides head-on into the side of another vehicle. These accidents usually occur at intersections or when cars cross other roadways. Often, the at-fault driver either fails to see or obey traffic signals or stop signs, or speeds, texts, or drives distracted or while impaired. Broken stoplight control systems or traffic signals that direct drivers incorrectly can also contribute to T-bone accidents.
These accidents particularly endanger the person sitting on the car’s side where the impact happens. Seatbelts, front airbags, and crumple zones in vehicles do not always protect from side impacts.
Various factors affect the extent of injuries incurred in a T-bone accident, including speed, whether the passengers wear seatbelts, and whether the airbag deploys. These accidents can endanger the drivers and passengers and other cars or pedestrians in the intersection.
T-bone accidents can lead to an immense amount of pain and suffering. If you or a loved one find yourself in a T-bone accident, contact a car accident lawyer now to understand how you can receive the compensation you deserve.
Who Is Responsible for T-bone Car Accidents?
Either driver can cause a T-bone accident, but each driver’s percentage of fault depends on which car had the right of way. An investigation of the accident scene will help determine who caused the accident and the potential compensation you can receive.
There are many different ways a T-bone accident can occur and influence who’s at fault.
Below are examples of situations when the person without the right of way might cause an accident and associated damages:
- Red lights: Running a red light can result in a T-bone accident. The driver who ran the red light and did not have the right of way is likely responsible for the accident and damages.
- Left turn: Either driver may cause a T-bone accident during a left turn. The vehicle with the right of way can depend on the lights, the specific intersection, and the speed at which the non-turning car was driving.
- Stop signs: A T-bone car accident at an intersection with stop signs usually occurs because one or both cars involved did not come to a complete stop. A T-bone accident can also happen when one car has a stop sign but the other does not. In this situation, the vehicle without the stop sign has the right of way.
- Parking lots: If a T-bone accident occurs in a parking lot, the driver leaving the lot may have failed to check their surroundings.
- U-turns: The driver of a car making a U-turn can cause a T-bone accident if they don’t watch for vehicles coming from the other direction.
Examples of situations where the person with the right of way may be responsible for damages resulting from the T-bone accident include:
- Speeding: Speeding can make drivers unable to slow down quickly.
- Intoxicated driving: Drunk or intoxicated drivers are less aware of their surroundings, can make poor decisions, and can miss signals or signs that increase the chances of a T-bone accident.
- Problems with the car when a driver doesn’t maintain it: Brakes can malfunction and fail at an intersection leading to a T-bone accident. The car manufacturer might bear liability if the malfunction was due to faulty parts rather than poor maintenance.
- Not using headlights if it’s dark or the weather is poor: Driving without headlights on can make it difficult for drivers to see you and leave you susceptible to a T-bone car accident.
- Not paying attention or giving in to distractions, such as looking at your phone: Driving while distracted can cause you to miss traffic signals or signs necessary to avoid T-bone car accidents.
If you fear you might be partially or fully at fault for a T-bone accident, call a car accident lawyer to review your case and determine its merits and see if you can recover compensation. A car accident lawyer will know how to fight insurance companies and secure the settlement you deserve if they baselessly blame you. If a lawsuit becomes necessary, your lawyer can defend your rights in the courtroom, too.
What Evidence Do You Need to Support Your Case?
Pictures, eyewitnesses, police reports, traffic cameras, and the drivers’ history are helpful evidence used to determine fault. The official police report contains both drivers’ perspectives of the accident and relevant information from the scene as investigated and supplied by the responding officers.
Eyewitnesses often provide outside perspectives about the accident events, such as who had the right of way or who might have violated traffic laws. Additionally, pictures of the scene and video footage, if available, may further identify the facts of the T-bone accident. Damage to cars can sometimes demonstrate whether someone might have sped. All evidence helps determine fault and an amount for economic damages.
The evidence described above can help determine that the driver who caused the T-bone accident and your resulting injuries acted negligently or recklessly behind the wheel.
To show that the other driver was negligent, you must establish these four factors:
- The other driver owed you a duty (in this case, to drive safely);
- The other driver breached said duty;
- The breach caused the accident and injury; and
- The accident and injury harmed you.
Drivers have a duty to all other drivers on the road to use caution and care when driving. Someone violating the right of way would not act per their duty. When determining negligence, a court must consider what a reasonably prudent person would do. A negligent person might need to pay for the damages caused by the accident.
What Injuries Result From T-bone Car Accidents?
The driver who caused the T-bone accident might need to pay your expenses related to your injuries. Physical injuries can range in severity. Mental and emotional injuries, such as PTSD, panic attacks, anxiety, and fear of driving, can also occur following a T-bone car accident. These injuries can have long-term effects.
Common injuries resulting from T-bone accidents include:
- Internal injuries
- Broken bones
- Sprains and fractures
- Concussions and other brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Head and neck injuries
- Shoulder injuries
- Knee and leg injuries
- Limb loss
Can Third Parties Be Liable?
Third parties need to pay for damages resulting from T-bone car accidents if there’s a defect with a vehicle or the road itself. Third parties include municipalities, highway or civil engineers, and car manufacturers.
Civil engineers plan, design, construct, operate, and maintain roads. They need to ensure safe and effective travel, and thus, if something was amiss, such as improper placement of traffic signals or signs, they may need to pay for any injuries that result. They might also bear responsibility if improper construction makes the intersection complicated or confusing.
Likewise, car manufacturers may bear responsibility if the car malfunctioned due to improper installation of parts or defective parts—for example, if the car’s brakes fail to work.
What Are My Legal Remedies?
If you can prove the other driver violated the right of way, you might have a strong argument to demand their insurance company compensates you for both economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages include:
- Medical expenses for injuries sustained in the accident;
- Future medical expenses for T-bone accident injuries;
- Lost wages due to time off work for recovery;
- Rehabilitation costs;
- Medication costs;
- Future lost wages if you’re unable to return to work due to long-term or permanent disability; and
- Property damage.
Noneconomic damages include pain and suffering, loss of consortium (fellowship between spouses or two individuals in a familial or committed relationship), or loss of companionship if your loved one died from the accident.
A car accident attorney can help you navigate the complicated legal process following a T-bone accident to get justice for you and your family. When bringing a lawsuit or engaging in settlement discussions with the other driver and their insurance company, you must gather all relevant documents demonstrating fault and the expenses you incurred due to the opposing party’s negligence. Your car accident lawyer can help you compile all of that information and present it compellingly during settlement negotiations or, if necessary, in court.
Damages awarded by courts vary depending on your injuries and the impact those injuries have on your quality of life. While non-economic damages are difficult to calculate, a car accident attorney can guide you through the process to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact an experienced car accident attorney to discuss your case today.