Who Is at Fault in a T-Bone Car Accident?

August 31, 2023 | By Nicolette R. Nicoletti
Who Is at Fault in a T-Bone Car Accident?

All car accidents come with aftereffects, but T-bone collisions, which you may also know as side-impact or broadside collisions, stand out due to their potentially dangerous consequences. This type of accident occurs when the front of one vehicle collides with the side of another.

Side-impact collisions often happen at high-speed intersections, resulting in serious injuries and even fatalities.

In such cases, liability depends on traffic laws, right-of-way rules, and each driver's actions leading up to the collision. The severity of injuries and property damage in T-bone accidents underscores the significance of accurately identifying the at-fault party. That will often require a car accident lawyer’s investigation.

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Why T-Bone Accidents Are High Risk for Serious Injuries

T-bone accidents come with a high risk for severe injuries due to their unique impact dynamics. In these accidents, the front end of one vehicle collides with the side of another, often at high speeds. Unlike rear-end collisions, T-bone accidents offer little protection to the occupants, as the sides of the struck vehicle are generally weaker than the front or rear.

The lack of crumple zones and limited space for absorption of impact force can result in severe injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, broken bones, and internal organ damage. Additionally, side-impact collisions can cause door intrusions, leading to an increased risk of ejection from the vehicle.

The doors and windows offer less protection than the engine or trunk area, which can better absorb an impact. This leaves victims much more vulnerable to the direct force of the collision and increases the risk of severe injury.

Common Types of Injuries From T-Bone Accidents

The severity of injuries that result from a side-impact collision can vary based on speed, vehicle size, safety features, and other factors, but even a lower-speed T-bone collision can have devastating effects.

Some common injuries resulting from these accidents include:

  • Head and brain injuries: Passengers may suffer concussions, contusions, or traumatic brain injuries due to the forceful impact.
  • Neck and spinal injuries: Whiplash is a common result of these accidents, along with other neck and spinal injuries, which can lead to chronic pain or paralysis.
  • Chest injuries: The driver on the side of the impact often suffers chest injuries due to collapsing onto the steering wheel.
  • Broken bones: The force of a collision can break bones, particularly in the ribs, arms, and legs.

Determining Fault in Common T-Bone Accident Scenarios

Right-of-way rules play a pivotal role in establishing fault in T-bone accidents, especially at intersections. If a driver fails to yield, runs a red light, or violates traffic rules in a way that causes a T-bone collision, it may indicate negligence and, therefore, make them liable for the resulting damages. However, determining fault can depend on the specifics of the accident.

Some common examples include:

  • Intersection accidents: If both drivers claim to have had a green light, any available witness statements or traffic camera footage can help establish who is at fault.
  • Parking lot accidents: These often involve cars turning. The driver who was moving straight generally has the right of way, and the driver making the turn could be at fault.
  • Accidents involving left turns: Drivers making a left turn must yield to oncoming traffic. In most cases, if a collision occurs during a left turn, the turning driver is usually at fault unless the other driver was speeding or had disobeyed traffic signals.
  • Accidents at stop signs: Typically, the driver who failed to stop or yield the right of way after stopping is at fault.

Determining fault can be complex, especially if there were no reliable witnesses or clear traffic violations, and an investigation is often necessary. Contacting a car accident lawyer familiar with T-bone collisions can help you understand your situation and protect your best interests.

How Lawyers Investigate and Determine Fault After a T-Bone Accident

Establishing fault after a T-bone accident is a critical step toward a successful insurance claim or lawsuit, allowing victims to recover compensation for all the consequences of the accident.

Lawyers play a crucial role in this process by gathering and analyzing all available evidence to construct a comprehensive picture of what happened, such as: 

  • Police report: A police report details the first-hand observations of the officers who went to the scene, any citations they issued for traffic law violations, statements from the parties involved, and witnesses' accounts. In some cases, these reports may contain an initial assessment of fault, which can significantly contribute to the fault determination process.
  • Physical evidence: Damage to vehicles, skid marks, vehicle debris, or any other physical evidence at the crash scene can offer clues about how the accident transpired.
  • Crash footage: It is relatively common for nearby security cameras and dash cams to capture footage of a T-bone accident, which provides critical visual evidence and a real-time account of the incident.
  • Eyewitness reports: Statements from people who witnessed the accident can provide a valuable and objective account of what happened, especially when the drivers' stories conflict.

Consulting With Reconstruction Specialists 

In more serious crashes, where the injuries are severe and fault remains unclear, lawyers may bring in car accident reconstruction specialists. These specialists use scientific methods to analyze the crash.

They may review physical evidence, study crash footage, and use computer programs to recreate the accident. They can analyze the data for vehicles with a black box or event data recorder to determine factors that led up to the collision, such as speed, braking, and steering input.

Types of Damages You Can Pursue After a T-Bone Accident

If you sustained an injury after a T-bone accident that was not your fault, you could pursue compensation, which the legal world terms compensatory damages. This form of restitution falls into economic and non-economic damages categories. One of the main roles of the car accident lawyer handling your case is to calculate these damages accurately, including the current effects of the accident and any long-term repercussions.

Economic Damages

Economic damages cover your financial losses that result from the accident, which may include:

  • Medical expenses: These cover costs related to hospitalization, surgeries, medications, physical therapy, and even future medical care.
  • Lost income: This compensates for the income lost due to not working during your recovery.
  • Reduced earning capacity: In the case of long-term or permanent injuries, this is compensation for the inability to earn at the same level as before the accident.
  • Property damage:  This represents the costs to repair or replace your vehicle and any personal property damaged in the accident.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages compensate for the intangible losses you suffer due to the accident, which is more difficult to quantify but still worthy of compensation. Lawyers use various methods to calculate these damages, including the per diem (daily rate) method or the multiplier method.

Non-economic damages include:

  • Physical pain: This is compensation for the physical pain and discomfort from your injuries, both immediately after the accident and throughout your recovery.
  • Emotional distress: This compensates you for mental anguish, depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that the accident triggered.
  • Loss of enjoyment: If your injuries have prevented you from participating in hobbies and activities you previously enjoyed or have significantly affected your overall quality of life, this loss can be part of your compensation claim.
  • Permanent scarring or disfigurement: Should the accident cause permanent scars or changes to your appearance, you can receive compensation.

Pursuing a Wrongful Death Claim After a T-Bone Accident

In the unfortunate event that a T-bone accident results in a fatality, the deceased person's close relatives could pursue a wrongful death claim. These cases often involve unique legal challenges and require the guidance of an experienced personal injury lawyer to navigate them effectively.

The potential damages in these cases can include funeral and burial costs, loss of financial support that the deceased would have provided, loss of companionship, love, and moral support, and emotional distress.

Sustaining an injury in a T-bone accident can produce a whirlwind of confusion and stress.

To protect your legal rights, lay a solid foundation for potential personal injury claims, and cover your damages: 

Get Medical Attention

The first step after any accident, including a T-bone collision, should be to seek medical attention even if you do not feel like you have sustained serious harm. Some serious injuries may not show symptoms immediately, such as internal injuries or a concussion.

Getting prompt medical attention ensures the early diagnosis and treatment of your injuries and serves to provide a record of your injuries. Legal professionals will scrutinize your medical records relating to the accident throughout the claims process, and delaying medical treatment might give insurers an excuse to argue that your injuries were not severe. 

Document Economic and Non-Economic Damages

Keep a detailed record of all expenses and losses related to the accident, including receipts, invoices, and bills associated with medical treatment, property repairs, and other direct costs you have incurred.

To document the subjective, non-economic damages from an accident, you could keep a daily diary throughout your recovery. The goal is to record your physical pain, emotional state, and any limitations in your daily routine.

Limit Communication With Insurance Companies

After the accident, the other driver's insurance company may contact you and ask you to provide a recorded statement and answer pointed questions. It is always advisable to avoid in-depth conversations with the company.

The company could potentially use anything you say against you to undermine your claim. Avoid accidentally jeopardizing your claim by directing insurers to speak with your attorney.

Contact a Lawyer Familiar With T-Bone Accidents

Enlisting the help of a lawyer with a proven track record of handling T-bone accident cases as early as possible can place you in a stronger position and significantly increase your chances of recovering fair compensation for all your damages.

They can guide you through the complex legal issues that often come with T-bone accidents, prevent you from making avoidable mistakes, and advocate for your best interests. 

How a Lawyer Can Help After a T-Bone Accident

Port Richey Car Accident Lawyer
Nicolette R. Nicoletti, Car Accident Lawyer in Port Richey

Dealing with the repercussions of a T-bone accident can be overwhelming. Hiring a skilled personal injury lawyer familiar with T-bone accidents can lighten the considerable burdens of navigating the legal process and provide you peace of mind.

Some of the ways a lawyer can make a difference after a side-impact collision include: 

  • Offering customized legal guidance: Your lawyer can explain the laws relevant to your case, provide sound legal advice based on your unique circumstances and pursue the best possible outcome during every step. Most car accident lawyers operate on a contingency fee basis so that you can benefit from this guidance without upfront costs. 
  • Handling administrative and legal procedures: Filing a personal injury claim involves complex procedures and paperwork, including medical record requests, insurance forms, and many other legal documents. A lawyer can manage all these aspects, allowing you to focus on your recovery.
  • Negotiating with insurance companies: The most critical steps for recovering compensation are demonstrating the full extent of your damages and settling with the at-fault party's insurance company. Your lawyer's role is to negotiate assertively on your behalf and counter any tactics to deny or minimize your claim.

The actions you take after a T-bone accident can affect the success of your personal injury claim, so find the right professional help. An experienced personal injury lawyer can provide invaluable support, guide you through the process, and fight for the compensation you deserve.

Nicolette R. Nicoletti Author Image

Nicolette R. Nicoletti

Managing Partner

Nicolette R. Nicoletti is the founder and managing partner of the Nicoletti Accident Injury Lawyers. She was born and raised in New Port Richey, Florida.  Nicolette attended Genesis Preparatory School and graduated salutatorian of her class.  She then went onto Saint Leo University for her undergraduate education. She graduated magna cum laude from the Honors Program with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science.  While at Saint Leo University, Nicolette was President of Pi Sigma Alpha (Political Science Honor Society), Secretary of Alpha Phi Sigma (Criminal Justice Honor Society), and an active member of Delta Epsilon Sigma (National Scholastic Honor Society).

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