Who Is at Fault for a T-Bone Accident?
It doesn’t matter what you call it; being in a broadside or T-bone accident can cause serious injuries and property damage to your vehicle. To make matters worse, there’s no magic method to determine fault for these side-impact vehicle crashes. Unless the liable party admits to police that they caused the crash, proving liability frequently comes down to gathering reliable and robust evidence, such as witness statements or surveillance camera footage.
Unlike rear-end collisions, in which the motorist in the back vehicle is typically liable for colliding with the vehicle in front, the motorist of the striking vehicle may not be at fault for a T-bone collision. Industry experts like car accident lawyers can assess the damage pattern at the point of impact to help them determine if the other car hit you first and possibly estimate how fast each vehicle was traveling at the time of the crash. But, unfortunately, damage patterns won’t show which driver had the right-of-way.
How Do T-Bone Accidents Happen?
A T-bone accident happens when the front of one vehicle strikes the side of another, forming the shape of a “T,” where one vehicle impacts the other. These accidents often occur at intersections when one driver ignores a stop sign or red light proceeding through the intersection at the same time another vehicle with the right of way traverses the same intersection. However, poor judgment calls on green lights can also cause T-bone crashes.
T-bone accidents aren’t just limited to intersections. They can happen on a highway or interstate if a motorist loses control of their vehicle and skids to the side. T-bone accidents are also known to occur in parking lots. For example, one driver can be backing out of a parking space when another vehicle strikes it from the side.
In addition to running stop signs or red lights, other causes of T-bone collisions include:
Turning across traffic lanes: Motorists in a turn lane must wait until it’s safe to cross the lanes of traffic. Most of the time, drivers who turn left across traffic are to blame for the resulting accident.
Making a right turn into oncoming traffic: Drivers must also wait until it’s safe to join oncoming traffic before attempting a right turn at a stop sign or red light and getting into the lane. However, frequently drivers can’t see speeding vehicles coming from the side until it’s too late. While the motorist already in the lane of traffic can be held partially at fault for speeding, most liability usually falls to the driver who failed to yield to oncoming traffic.
Aggressive driving or recklessness: Reckless behavior behind the wheel and aggressive driving frequently go hand in hand. Sometimes motorists try to use their cars to intimidate others, and they ignore other drivers who are legally in an intersection as a scare tactic. The reckless or aggressive motorist is liable when aggressive driving results in a crash.
Cell phones: Using cell phones, including texting while driving, is not only dangerous, but it’s also illegal in most states. Unfortunately, cell phones take the driver’s eyes, concentration, and focus off driving. A talking or texting motorist is distracted, and if an accident occurs, it can cause catastrophic or even fatal injuries.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI): Intoxication by either drugs or alcohol impairs a motorist’s reflexes, sight, and thinking abilities. While under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they often don’t look for traffic coming from their side. If they do see other vehicles, their intoxication causes them to misjudge the oncoming driver’s speed and location.
Some causes of T-bone accidents that might not just be the other driver’s fault:
Mechanical failures: Although less frequent than other causes, equipment failure is an equally dangerous cause of T-bone accidents. Traveling into oncoming traffic often becomes unavoidable if a motorist can’t stop because of brake, steering, or other mechanical failures. However, the motorist might still be negligent if the vehicle wasn’t properly maintained or if they knew it had issues but didn’t fix them.
Weather and road conditions: Severe weather, such as unexpected freezing rain or snow, can make it nearly impossible for a motorist to stop safely. Sliding or skidding past a traffic signal or stop sign into an intersection is an unfortunate invitation to a T-bone collision.
Can There be More Than One Liable Party?
In some T-bone accidents, there may be multiple liable for your injuries and resulting damages. Identifying all responsible parties is essential as this ensures that you seek all sources of compensation to resolve your accident injury claim or lawsuit. For this reason, it’s in your best interest to hire an experienced car accident attorney who can help uncover all potential sources of compensation.
In addition to the at-fault driver, other parties with potential liability can include:
Parents or legal guardians of teenage motorists
The vehicle owner, if someone other than the driver
Business owners, if the at-fault driver was operating a company vehicle
A vehicle’s manufacturer or dealer, if mechanical issues resulted in the accident
Municipal or state government agencies, if neglected road, traffic lights, or sign conditions caused the accident
The Importance of Evidence in Proving Fault
After a T-bone accident, it might be clear to you that the other driver caused the accident. However, you or your attorney on your behalf still must prove it to the driver’s insurance company before they will compensate you for your claim. Proving another driver’s negligence requires reliable evidence.
You must have evidence to support that:
The at-fault motorist had a legal duty of care to drive safely.
The at-fault driver violated their duty of care such as by running a red light or failing to yield the right of way when making a left turn.
The motorist’s breach of duty of care was the direct cause of your injuries.
Your injuries lead to compensable damages.
A motorist’s failure to drive safely is negligent conduct and a breach of their duty of care owed to you and other drivers on the road. If a breach of duty is the direct cause of a T-bone accident, the at-fault driver is liable for your injuries and damages.
Evidence to Support Your Claim
Your attorney will usually take on the task of collecting evidence to support your claim, which typically includes:
Police Report: The investigating police officer who came to the scene of the accident will draft an official police accident report. It will have valuable information to help support your claim, including eyewitness statements and their contact information, a diagram of the accident, and a list of traffic citations if any, that the police issued to the other motorist.
Photographs: Pictures or videos taken after the crash are convincing evidence. The police usually take photos during car accident investigations. If you are physically able, take pictures of the vehicles from as many different angles as you safely can. Also, get some of the intersection or surrounding accident scene, including traffic signals, any stop or yield signs, and skid marks on the road. You can also take pictures of your visible injuries to serve as evidence.
Surveillance Camera Footage: Pictures and videos taken by red light cameras or security camera surveillance footage from nearby businesses can erase any doubt regarding which driver had the right of way when the accident happened.
Your Notes: If you or the eyewitnesses heard the other motorist say something like “I didn’t see the car coming” or “I’m sorry, it’s my fault,” write it down as soon as possible. Statements admitting fault for the accident are often compelling evidence of liability. After the accident, you should also keep detailed notes. Record everything you remember from the day of the crash, the events leading up to the crash, and what happened immediately after the collision.
Medical Records: Never refuse medical attention at the accident scene. A thorough medical exam as soon as possible after the accident is imperative to not only ensure your health and well-being but also to set your legal claim up for success. You or your car accident attorney can request copies of all your medical bills and records from the ambulance, hospital, doctors, and any other medical and rehab specialists who diagnose or treat you related to your T-bone accident injuries.
What Are Damages?
Damages are the losses, inconveniences, and suffering you have endured due to an injury accident. After a T-bone accident, injured parties deserve to receive full and fair monetary compensation for their damages. The amount and type of compensation will vary depending on the available insurance policies, how the accident happened, who the at-fault party was, and various other factors.
Some factors are economic and have bills or receipts to prove their value. Other factors are non-economic and are more challenging to value because they are subjective and without a predetermined value.
Typical damages in T-bone collision claims include:
Individuals suffering injuries in a T-bone accident should consult a seasoned car accident attorney. An attorney can discuss the types and amounts of compensation they may be entitled to receive if their case is successful. Your attorney can also help you gather medical, financial, and other relevant documentation to build a strong case.
T-Bone Accident Lawsuits: Time is of Essence
After a T-bone collision, injured parties usually have many important tasks to attend to; medical appointments, filing insurance claims, arranging time off of work to heal, and finding help for tasks they cannot complete for themselves due to their recent injuries. However, during this stressful and busy time, accident injury victims must know they only have a limited amount of time to take legal action concerning their accident and damages.
The time limit for filing a lawsuit is short, and the clock starts on the date of the accident or when the victim discovered their injuries. The deadlines are different in cases involving an injured minor or other circumstances, such as claims against the government. A knowledgeable car accident lawyer can inform crash victims of their claim’s timeline and what to expect, as each state sets its own deadlines for personal injury cases, including those arising from car accidents.
Injured individuals should note that if they wait past their state’s deadline to file their injury claim, the at-fault party can enter a motion to dismiss the case due to the elapsed statute of limitations. The court will most likely reject the case because of the late filing, and the injured party won’t have any recourse to pursue compensation for their damages.
Never risk waiting too long to seek legal help; consult with a car accident attorney today.
What to Do After a T-Bone Accident
Seek Medical Attention
The most crucial step you can take after being involved in a T-bone accident is seeking medical attention. In some cases, accident victims don’t experience any pain or other injury symptoms right away due to the adrenaline rush they are experiencing from the accident or the nature of their injuries.
If you’ve been in a car accident but don’t have pain or other symptoms, it’s still best to be examined by a doctor. You should seek care as soon as possible through your own primary care doctor or at an urgent care facility if you don’t go to the emergency room immediately after the accident. Failing to get medical care right away can have negative implications on your injury claim in the future.
In addition, you should follow the medical advice that your physician gives you. If you fail to keep up with your treatment recommendations, you can risk the insurance company denying parts of your claim.
Seek Legal Help
The second most crucial step to take is to contact an experienced car accident attorney. They can help preserve your rights and help you move forward to seek the compensation you deserve. Unfortunately, without the help of a car accident attorney, you may never receive a financial recovery for your damages.