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Chicago Side Impact Car Accident Lawyer

T-Bone Accidents Can Cause Serious Injuries

side-impact_collisionsA side-impact crash, as opposed to a head-on crash or a rear-end collision, occurs when at least one vehicle involved in an accident is impacted on its side or near-side, at any angle other than directly in front or directly behind. Side impact car crashes (also known as t-bone crashes) account for 25% of collisions that result in injury.

Further, they cause 40% of crashes that result in serious injury requiring hospitalization or death. Chicago side impact car accident lawyers are very familiar with the severity of injuries that can result.

According to the University of Michigan, about 3.18 million t-bone crashes occur in the US every year. Broadside crashes make up about 30% of all car accidents that result in death. Annually, this amounts to about 9,400 deaths.

Side Impact Collision FAQs

What is a side impact crash?

Side-impact accidents include direct broadside collisions, also called “T-bone” collisions. T-bone or side-impact collision is where one vehicle’s front end directly impacts the side of another vehicle. This causes the vehicles to form a “T”, and thus they are known as t-bone accidents.

Side-impact collisions also include accidents in which a vehicle glances off the side or near-side of another vehicle, where the primary impact is lateral rather than from the front or the rear. Many lateral side-impact accidents occur when a driver on a multi-lane highway changes lanes without observing a vehicle in his blind spot, and swerves into its side. Lateral side-impact car crashes are also called sideswipe accidents.

How do T-bone accidents occur?

Chicago side-impact crash attorneys see these collisions occur in the following situations:

T-bone accidents frequently occur at intersections and in parking lots, where cars are usually traveling perpendicular to one another. These types of broadside collisions frequently occur as a result of one of the drivers failing to yield a right-of-way or running a stop light or a stop sign.

A broadside can also occur when a vehicle swerves out of control—such as on wet roads—and slams sideways into a tree or some other obstacle, or else gets hit by another vehicle, or in multi-car collisions, when a vehicle collision causes one car to spin sideways, and another vehicle traveling along the road ends up hitting them broadside.

T-bone accidents often occur because of one person’s negligent driving. This negligence often occurs in the form of distracted driving, driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or reckless driving.

Distracted Driving

Sending a text, eating, or looking for a restaurant with good reviews while driving are only a few examples of ways people can be distracted while behind the wheel

When a driver takes their eyes off the road, even for a few seconds, they can make a serious mistake that causes injuries or fatalities. Distracted driving is a common cause of side impact accidents because a driver who is not paying attention can blow through a stop sign or red light or not see a car pull out. Or they may fail to notice another driver who isn’t paying enough attention to the road. 

Drunk Driving

When a person consumes alcohol and decides to drive, they are not only putting themselves in danger but everyone else on the road too. Alcohol greatly affects one’s ability to drive safely by lowering reaction time, decreasing decision making ability, and increasing the likelihood of being distracted. 

Like a distracted driver, a drunk driver may not see a stop sign. They may decide to try beating a red light. Maybe they fail to see a car pulling out. All of these scenarios can cause a serious t-bone accident. 

[Read: 10 Disturbing Drunk Driving Accident Statistics]

Reckless Driving

Reckless, aggressive, or impatient driving are also known factors that lead to t-bone accidents. Since t-bone accidents commonly occur at intersections, reckless drivers may cause an accident by trying to beat a red light, running it on purpose, or recklessly swerving around a car they perceive to be slow. They may then accidentally ram straight into the side of another car. 

What Affects the Severity of Side Impact Collisions?

As with most crashes, the severity of the damage and injury of a side-impact collision will depend on the:

  • Types of vehicles in the collision: The most common type of t-bone collision involves two passenger cars. Regardless, they are very dangerous. But the danger level can go up when a t-bone collision involves a car hitting a motorcycle or a semi-truck hitting a car.
  • Safety features that the vehicle has installed: The severity of the damages and injuries that result from a side-impact collision can vary based on how advanced the cars’ safety features are. Vehicles with advanced features like side airbags, cross-traffic alerts, and high safety ratings are obviously more likely to keep drivers safe from serious injury or death.
  • How fast the vehicles are traveling: Speed greatly impacts the severity of car accidents, like t-bone collisions. Vehicles traveling at a high rate of speed cause more damage and are more likely to severely injure the passengers on board, especially the passenger closest to the point of impact.
  • Weight and construction of the respective vehicles: The weight and construction of both vehicles determine the outcome of the accident. A larger, heavier vehicle crashing into a smaller vehicle will do much more damage than a smaller vehicle crashing into a larger vehicle. For example, a delivery van t-boning a car will be more devastating for the car passenger than the other way around.

What Are Common Injuries Caused by Side-Impact Collisions?

Side impact auto accident attorneys in Chicago often see the following injuries:

Head and Brain Injuries

This can include concussions or more serious traumatic brain injuries (TBI), internal bleeding, skull fractures, or lacerations that require plastic surgery.

Traumatic brain injuries occur when a person hits their head on a hard object, their body is jolted, or something penetrates their skull. Any one of these causes of brain trauma are very likely during a t-bone accident. TBIs are expensive to treat. They can put a person out of work for a long time and can cause them serious, life-long consequences.

Neck and Back Injuries

Neck and back injuries can cause a sufferer a lifetime of pain and discomfort and may even take away beloved activities and hobbies. 

The most common neck and back injuries from t-bone accidents include herniated discs, spinal cord injuries, and neck or back sprains or strains.

Depending on the type of neck or back injury a person suffers, there can be substantial damages. This includes: 

  • medical bills for doctor visits, physical therapy, and surgery
  • lost income from missed time off work
  • pain and suffering

Broken Bones

Side impact collisions often cause victims broken bones. These injuries are extremely painful, often require surgery to repair, and can cause victims long time pain and suffering.

Broken bones often occur alongside more severe injuries and make the cost of medical bills even higher. Serious breaks like crush injuries and multiple fractures can even cause infections, require extensive or multiple surgeries, and create irreparable damage.

Soft Tissue Injuries

Soft tissue injuries can be severe and very painful. These injuries result when a victim’s muscles, tendons, and/or ligaments are torn or strained in an accident. Torn ligaments, muscles, and tendons can cause victims to be in pain for weeks, months, years, or even the rest of their lives.


A common result of side-impact collisions is whiplash since the severe jerking motion associated with a t-bone incident often causes the victim’s neck to slam side to side.

Whiplash is generally mild and doesn’t create lasting issues. However, in more serious cases, patients may experience long-term neck pain, which can result in thousands of dollars of physical therapy, back braces, and missed time from work.

Spinal Cord Injuries

When the spinal cord is stretched and strained, or when a disc makes contact with the spinal cord, the accident victim can suffer very serious, long-lasting injuries, like permanent disability.

Spinal cord injuries caused by side impact collisions can cause a permanent disability, leading to thousands of dollars in medical debt. In addition to the financial strain, victims of serious spinal cord injuries could lose the ability to play with their children, drive a car, and participate in their favorite activities. This causes them to suffer a major overall change in their quality of life.

What Are Common Damages From Side-Impact Collisions?

Common damages from a side-impact collision include:

Medical Expenses

Medical expenses include ambulance fees, hospital bills, doctor visits, physical or cognitive therapy for a brain injury, etc. The more severe an injury is, the more medical expenses an accident victim will likely incur.

Medical expenses are sometimes a major indicator of how much compensation a person will receive for a car accident like a side impact collision. A personal injury attorney will gather all of your medical records so that they can get an accurate understanding of how much you will need to cover all of your medical bills and how much you may need to cover future medical procedures. 

Lost Wages

After a car accident, injury victims often have to miss work in order to recover, attend doctor visits, etc. This lost income is recoverable in a personal injury case. Also, if an injury victim sustains a disability or loses their ability to perform the tasks necessary for their career, they may be able to recover lost income for their impairment or reduction in ability to earn money in the future.

Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering is a type of damage related to the mental or physical distress caused by a car accident, like a T-bone accident. The amount one can recover for pain and suffering depends on the type of injury, the seriousness of their pain and suffering, and the prognosis for any future pain they may experience from their injury.

Why do Side-Impact Injury and Fatality Rates Remain So High?

Roughly one quarter of all passenger vehicle occupant accident fatalities in the United States occur from side-impact collisions. And while frontal impacts remain the front-runner in causing accident fatalities, those numbers are steadily declining. Meanwhile, side-impact fatalities remain more constant, or even increasing, as the number of vehicles on the roads increase.

One of the most important reasons for this disparity is the progressive development, enhancement, and deployment of safety technology for frontal impact crashes in late-model vehicles. Further, the enactment and enforcement of certain safety laws.

Over the last few decades, critical steps have been taken that increase vehicle occupant safety for frontal impacts:

  • Mandatory driver and front-passenger airbags
  • Improved front and rear crumple zones
  • Improved headrest designs
  • Gas tank redesigns
  • Mandatory seat-belt laws
  • Mandatory under-ride bars on commercial trucks

These technologies and developments have the intent of protecting vehicle occupants from frontal and rear-end impacts. Unfortunately, they do not provide similar protection for side-impact collisions.

As a result, although frontal crashes occur more often, the type of crash that is now more likely to result in a fatality or a serious injury is a side-impact collision.

Moreover, side impact collisions are particularly risky for children. Roughly one fourth of all car crashes involving children are side-impact collisions. Further, almost one third of all child fatalities from crashes are due to side impact collisions, and a significant majority of these fatalities are the result of head trauma.

Why are side-impact car accidents so dangerous?

Side-impact collisions are particularly damaging for several reasons. One reason is that drivers and passengers hit from the side have little or no warning of the impact. If there’s a frontal impact, a driver may have the ability to react to a dangerous situation. For example, by applying the brakes or taking some other evasive measure. However, vehicles hit from the side often have no forewarning of the impact. Thus, drivers sometimes cannot try to minimize any potential damage or injury.

The second and more critical issue is that the sides of a vehicle simply do not provide much protection. Usually, the only thing between a passenger or driver and an oncoming vehicle from the side is a door and a window. In comparison, front and rear impacts have an engine or a trunk to absorb some of the impact.

This is particularly problematic when the vehicle that broadsides you is a bigger vehicle such as an SUV or truck. When there is a great disparity of height and weight between the vehicles in a side-impact crash, if the smaller of the vehicles is the one that is hit broadside, tremendous damage and injury are likely to ensue. A smaller vehicle hitting the side may primarily impact the car frame and seats. But, higher vehicles are much more likely to impact the passengers more directly. This can cause traumatic head, neck, or spinal injuries that can lead to permanent disability or death. It can also cause chest, abdomen, and pelvic injuries that are painful, and frequently debilitating.

Preventing and Reducing the Severity of Side-Impact Collisions

Drive Defensively

The extreme risk of injury in side-impact collisions is another reason you should always drive defensively. Further, always bear in mind that it is important to be observant and cautious at intersections. This, even if you have the right-of-way. Do not automatically expect every other driver to observe the rules of the road.

Side-impact crashes will cause a vehicle’s occupants to severely jar their heads and necks. They can throw passengers across the interior of the vehicle or even out of it, if they are not wearing safety belts.

Side-Impact Airbags

More and more vehicles today have installed side-impact airbags for drivers and passengers. However, even this cannot completely insulate passengers from serious injury in side-impact collisions. This is especially true with young children. But side airbags can help to spread the impact over a greater area of their bodies.

Many automakers have given side-impact issues greater attention recently. They have done this by strengthening components of the “safety cage” that encompasses all of a vehicle’s passengers, and by reinforcing door pillars.

However, side-impact safety measures are unfortunately well behind front-impact safety technology. Also, government regulators require automakers to meet stringent fuel efficiency standards. Therefore, there is a strong incentive for automakers to make vehicles lighter. That means some of the materials used in manufacturing vehicles are lighter and less robust in holding up to any type of collision.

Advanced Traffic Detection Systems

New technologies continue to be released that aim to keep drivers safe without relying on a driver’s ability to recognize a hazard themselves. Tesla vehicles include software that allow them to recognize and respond to traffic lights. This feature is called “Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control” and it can prevent vehicles from running stop signs and red lights. This in turn can prevent a t-bone accident. Once this software is more widely available, it could prevent side-collision accidents from occurring altogether.

Automatic Braking Systems

Not all vehicles are as advanced as Teslas. But lots of newer vehicles are coming equipped with other types of life-saving technologies. One of those features is the automatic braking system. This technology causes a vehicle to brake before coming into contact with another vehicle or object in front of it. While this won’t stop someone from running a red light or stop sign, it can help to prevent other collisions like rear-end accidents. 

Increased Laws on Distracted Driving

Laws curbing distracted driving have been a huge help in preventing car accidents. Each state has addressed the problem of distracted driving differently. But overall, almost every state has some sort of law to prevent or reduce the problem. In 2019, an Illinois law went into effect that makes using your phone while driving a moving violation. This law effectively increased the possible penalties for distracted driving. If you are caught driving while using your phone in Illinois, you could face a fine or license suspension. And if you hurt or kill someone while using your phone, you could face criminal charges.

A Chicago Side Impact Car Accident Lawyer Can Help

No type of vehicle accident is pleasant, but side-impact accidents are often particularly tragic. This is because of the high likelihood that there will be a serious injury or even a fatality.

Dealing with the aftermath of an accident is not something anyone welcomes. There is insurance claims, medical bills, investigators, and so on. All this while recovering from an injury, adjusting to a permanent injury, or confronting the grief of losing a family member.

If you have injuries, or someone you love has been killed in a side-impact accident caused by the negligence of another driver, the last thing you need is to deal with the “business” side of a serious accident. For most people, the hassle of the crash aftermath is not only aggravating, but completely unfamiliar and overwhelming. This is where the Chicago car accident attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C., can help you.

Our attorneys have many years of experience helping car accident victims just like you. We not only know what happens, but everything that should be happening. We know how to investigate side-impact accidents, and how to deal with insurance companies and with the other parties’ attorneys. Finally, we know how to recover the damages.

Unfortunately, car accidents are a fact of life in the modern world. And when you are a victim of a side-impact collision in Chicago, you need someone who will stand by your side. Particularly when you are trying to obtain recovery from an auto insurance carrier. You can count on the Chicago personal injury attorneys at Abels & Annes to be aggressive and capable advocates for you.

Contact the Experienced Chicago Car Accident Attorneys at Abels & Annes

If you or someone you love has been the victim of a side-impact injury, contact Abels & Annes, P.C. Call (855) LAW-CHICAGO (529-2442) or at (312) 924-7575, or use our online form or online chat. Our consultations are always free.

Remember, there is no fee until you obtain compensation, either through a settlement or through litigation. So give us a call today.

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