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While not as deadly as head-on collisions or rollovers, T-bone crashes caused about 17 percent of all auto accident fatalities in 2015, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. T-bone accidents occur when one vehicle smashes into the side of another vehicle, roughly creating the shape of a T. They are also known as broadside or side collisions.
If you are involved in a T-bone crash, it’s highly likely you will sustain serious injuries. You may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, physical therapy, pain and suffering, and lost wages if you are unable to work for a time.
Here’s what you need to know to ensure you’re doing everything in your best interest in a personal injury claim.
Q: What are the common causes of T-bone crashes?
A: Broadside collisions are almost always caused because someone failed to yield the right of way. One driver may have made an unsafe left turn in an intersection, mistakenly thinking the other vehicle would stop at the yellow light. A driver may have run a red light, and the other driver crashed into the speeding vehicle while making a left turn. Or one driver may have run through a stop sign.
Drivers who are distracted by cell phone use or exhaustion, and/or are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, are much more likely to get involved in a T-bone accident.
Because T-bone accidents typically involve a failure to yield the right of way, or involve a clearly illegal action such as running a red light, it can be easier to prove one party was liable for the accident.
Q: What are the damage and injuries in T-bone collisions?
A: When a vehicle smashes into the side of another vehicle, the door(s) typically crumple inwards and can crush the driver. Windows shatter, possibly causing cuts and deeper wounds. The roof may buckle. The driver or passenger’s head may hit the window or side of the car, causing traumatic brain injury (from concussion to more severe injury), whiplash or other soft tissue damage. The impact may fracture bones, smash internal organs, and mar the face.
These injuries can result in high medical bills and a long recovery time. They may cause severe and debilitating pain. You may not be able to work temporarily or even permanently.
You could be entitled to compensation for these damages. To do so, you would have to file a claim against the other driver’s auto insurance company and show that he or she was partially or totally liable for the incident.
Q: How to determine liability in a T-bone accident case?
A: T-bone accidents often occur when one vehicle is making a left turn. As we have explained in another article, the driver turning left is almost always deemed at fault in the accident for failing to yield the right of way. But there are exceptions to this rule.
If the driver going straight ran a red light or a stop sign, that driver would be deemed at least partially, if not wholly, liable for the crash. A driver traveling significantly over the speed limit may also be deemed partially or totally at fault. A person who was distracted by texting or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs may also be liable for the accident.
Some intersections have cameras that may record a person running through a red light, making it easier to prove liability. If the accident took place at an intersection, it’s also likely there are drivers and pedestrians who witnessed the incident. These people may be able to provide testimony about what happened and who was at fault.
However, it’s not always possible to get witness accounts and video footage. So when it comes to making an insurance claim for compensation, you may end up in a “he said, she said” situation.
To learn more about what to do after an accident to help you build a strong case, read our article here.
Consulting an attorney in T-bone accident cases
If you were involved in a T-bone accident and believe you were not to blame for the accident, you may find it difficult to prove. In Arizona, which follows the legal doctrine of “pure comparative negligence,” you can receive compensation based on the degree you were at fault in a collision. For example, if 30 percent of the accident is your fault, you can receive 70 percent compensation.
Because these cases can be complicated, it is wise to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer to learn about your options and to build the strongest case possible.
An attorney can investigate and recreate the scene of the accident by obtaining police reports, witness accounts, and even the vehicle’s black box. Your lawyer will also handle all the communication with the insurance companies and the other driver’s attorney. So you can focus on healing and getting back to your life.
The Lamber-Goodnow Personal Injury Law Team offers free consultations to people who have been involved in auto accidents. We only get paid if you get paid.