While T-bone accidents are not as common as rear-end collisions, they can result in devastating injuries and significant property damage, especially when the crash involves large trucks. A large percentage of T-bone accidents involving semi-trucks, tractor-trailers, and other trucks result in deaths.
A massive truck hitting the side of a smaller vehicle can cause life-changing and sometimes fatal injuries to car occupants. These collisions are so deadly because large trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds.
If you suffered injuries or your loved one died in a truck T-bone accident, consider contacting a skilled attorney to evaluate your damages and help you pursue the compensation you need to put your life back together.
What Is a T-Bone Accident?
T-bone accidents, also sometimes called side-impact collisions, occur when the front of one vehicle strikes the left or right side of another vehicle, forming the shape of a “T” between the vehicles. A large percentage of T-bone collisions occur at intersections when one of the drivers fails to obey traffic signals or stop signs.
However, T-bone collisions involving large trucks may also occur on interstates, highways, and roadways when a driver loses control of the vehicle, makes an improper turn, or violates other traffic rules. These accidents may also occur in parking lots when one vehicle strikes the side of another car when exiting their parking space.
Common Causes of Truck T-Bone Accidents
Many T-bone accidents occur at intersections with traffic signals and stop signs.
Thus, the vast majority of side-impact collisions are preventable if drivers consistently obey traffic laws and use reasonable care when operating a motor vehicle.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. An intoxicated motorist is more likely to disobey traffic laws due to their impaired judgment, slower reaction, and inability to drive safely.
- Failure to yield the right of way. After driving too fast for conditions and impaired driving, failure to yield the right of way is the third-leading cause of fatal traffic accidents in the United States, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Failure to yield is also a common cause of T-bone collisions.
- Not coming to a complete stop. If a driver fails to come to a complete stop at a red light or stop sign, they may end up colliding with vehicles that legally enter the intersection.
- Running red lights. A large percentage of side-impact crashes that occur at intersections happen because a driver attempts to beat a red light.
- Driving too fast for weather conditions. Adverse weather conditions contribute to motor vehicle accidents in our country, including truck T-bone accidents. When a driver fails to slow down and drive at a rate of speed that is reasonable for weather conditions is more likely to cause a car accident.
However, driver error is not the only cause of T-bone collisions.
These crashes may also occur due to the following factors:
- Defective or faulty automobile parts
- Poorly maintained roads
- Faulty traffic signals
The cause of a side-impact collision may not be immediately apparent after the accident, which is why victims involved in the crash might want to consider hiring an experienced attorney to investigate their accident and determine fault.
Why Are T-Bone Collisions Dangerous?
T-bone accidents are dangerous and can be deadly for several reasons. In this type of crash, the front of a vehicle strikes the side of another vehicle. The side of the vehicle is one of its weakest spots when collisions happen. Although some vehicles have airbags on their sides, they may still offer little to no protection to the driver or vehicle passengers, especially if the accident occurs at a high rate of speed and/or involves a large truck.
If the vehicle does not have airbags, the consequences of a side-impact collision can be deadly. T-bone crashes can result in catastrophic injuries and fatalities in both vehicles, the one that strikes the side of another and the one that takes the hit.
The severity of injuries and the likelihood of death in truck T-bone accidents depends on multiple factors, including the speed of the vehicles as well as the size of the vehicle that strikes the side of another.
Common Injuries Suffered by Victims of Truck T-Bone Accidents
Some of the most common injuries associated with T-bone collisions involving trucks include but are not limited to:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Back and neck injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones and fractures
- Loss of a limb
- Severe burns
- Penetrating injuries
- Crush injuries
Often, injuries suffered by victims of truck T-bone accidents can lead to life-long impairments. Depending on the severity of the injury, the injured victim may be disabled for the rest of their life and incur hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical expenses, loss of income, and other costs and losses.
If you were involved in a T-bone crash, it is critical to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Even if you feel fine, you might still want to visit a doctor to get a full medical check-up. Some injuries may not be apparent immediately after the accident. Symptoms can take hours, days, or even weeks to surface.
Negligence in T-Bone Accidents
If you suffered injuries in a T-bone accident, your ability to obtain compensation for your damages and losses depends on your ability to prove that the other driver was negligent. Negligence refers to a person’s failure to act reasonably under the circumstances.
According to the American Bar Association (ABA), a person is negligent if they fail to use reasonable care.
In a car accident, you can establish negligence if you or your lawyer can prove:
- Duty of care. The other driver owed you a duty of care. For example, if your T-bone accident involves a truck, you can prove that the driver of the truck owed you a duty to operate the vehicle safely and obey traffic laws.
- Breach. The truck driver breached their duty of care due to their unlawful or careless conduct behind the wheel. For example, if the truck driver failed to stop at a red light, which caused them to hit the side of your vehicle in a T-bone manner, you can prove that the driver breached the duty of care.
- Causation. This element requires you to prove that you suffered injuries and damages as a direct result of the truck driver’s negligence.
- Damages. Last but not least, you must prove that you suffered actual damages (economic and non-economic) because of your injury.
If your attorney can establish these four elements after a T-bone collision, you can receive compensation through a personal injury claim against the driver of the truck.
Can a Trucking Company Bear Liability for Your Truck T-Bone Accident?
Yes, you can hold a trucking company liable for your T-bone collision if you can prove that the company was negligent in causing the accident. Common examples of negligence on the part of a trucking company are negligent supervision, hiring, or training of drivers.
A trucking company can be liable for your accident if it failed to follow the federal regulations that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enforces. For example, the Hours of Service (HoS) regulations prohibit truck operators from driving more than 11 hours after ten consecutive hours off duty.
If a trucking company encourages its drivers to violate HoS rules, and one of its drivers causes a T-bone accident when they fall asleep behind the wheel, the trucking company can be liable for the resulting damages because it disregarded the federal regulations.
Another example of a trucking company’s negligence is if it failed to conduct proper background checks before hiring a truck driver who has problems with alcohol or drug abuse.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Truck T-Bone Accidents
How common are truck T-bone accidents?
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), T-bone accidents account for approximately 23 percent of all fatalities among passenger vehicle occupants in the United States. Side-impact collisions account for over 5,000 passenger vehicle occupant fatalities on our roads.
A large percentage of fatalities in T-bone accidents involve large trucks. The size of the truck increases the chance of a fatal collision. In Arizona, angle crashes, which include side-impact collisions, accounted for over 4,300 injuries, according to a 2020 report by the Arizona Department of Transportation.
Why do trucks make T-bone accidents worse?
Semi-trucks, tractor-trailers, and other trucks are much larger and weigh significantly more than passenger vehicles. Thus, when a T-bone crash involves a large truck, the consequences can be catastrophic and deadly.
The fact that trucks are carrying cargo makes T-bone collisions even more dangerous. If the truck’s cargo spills onto the road, more people can get hurt from hazards at the scene of the crash.
How do you determine fault in T-bone accidents?
A large percentage of T-bone collisions occur when two vehicles enter the intersection at the same time. More often than not, at least one driver is at fault for this type of accident. For example, if a driver runs a red light or disobeys a stop sign, they can be held liable for any resulting collisions.
The police officer who arrives at the scene of the T-bone collision will determine fault. The officer will evaluate the circumstances of the crash to determine who had the right of way based on traffic signals and road signs in the area. However, in many cases, the fault may not be immediately apparent, which is why people involved in the collision will have to contact an attorney to investigate the collision and determine fault.
When determining liability for a truck T-bone accident, an attorney will collect and review all available evidence, including photos from the scene, skid marks, witness statements, surveillance or traffic camera footage, and others.
What compensation can you recover after a truck T-bone accident?
A T-bone collision can result in thousands of dollars in expenses and losses. Fortunately, you can pursue compensation for any losses and damages related to your crash if the other party (e.g., a truck driver and/or their trucking company) was responsible for causing the accident.
Some of the most common types of damages recoverable by victims of T-bone accidents include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Property damages
- Diminished earning capacity
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering
Keep all receipts and records related to your losses and expenses in a secure place. You will need that documentation to obtain the compensation that you need to cover your losses.
What if your loved one died in a truck T-bone collision?
If you lost a loved one in a side-impact collision caused by a large truck, you can pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent party. While it is understandable that no money in the world can bring back your loved one, you and the surviving family members can achieve justice and receive compensation for some of your hardships by filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Consider speaking with an attorney to help you understand your compensation options when suing the negligent party for causing your loved one’s death.
How can an attorney help after a truck T-bone accident?
If you suffered injuries or your family member lost their life in a T-bone collision involving a truck, you can benefit from contacting a knowledgeable truck accident attorney to represent your interests and protect your rights.
Your attorney can help you pursue the compensation you deserve by:
- Investigating your accident
- Gathering evidence to prove the other party’s fault
- Preparing and filing the necessary paperwork
- Handling communications with insurance companies and at-fault parties
- Negotiating a fair settlement on your behalf
- Taking your case to court if doing so is necessary to obtain maximum compensation
Speak with an experienced truck accident attorney to discuss your particular case and determine your best course of action to receive the compensation you need to obtain justice and hold the other party accountable for their negligent or wrongful conduct.