According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, common causes of car accidents include violations of right-of-way rules, improper turns, and unsafe speed. These driving violations can lead to one of the most dangerous car accidents: the T-bone collision.
Many drivers assume that determining fault after a T-bone accident will be simple. After all, isn’t the driver who broadsided another vehicle responsible for the accident? Not always.
As one of Cerritos’s leading car accident law firms, we’ve worked on many cases involving T-bone collisions. Here is what’s taken into consideration when determining fault in this type of car accident.
What Is a T-Bone Collision?
T-bone collisions, also referred to as side-impact collisions, occur when the front end of one car collides with the side of another car, forming the shape of a “T.” These accidents are particularly dangerous to the driver or passengers in the car that was struck because the metal doors of their car can crumple into them and the windows can shatter. Common injuries from these car accidents are:
- traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- broken bones
- internal bleeding
- severe whiplash
- spinal damage
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- wrongful death
After being involved in a T-bone collision, injured parties may face significant financial strain due to medical bills, property damage, and a diminished capacity to work. They may also suffer from non-economic damages, such as mental or emotional distress or pain and suffering.
Can these damages be recovered in a personal injury claim? It will depend on who was at fault for the collision.
Common Causes of T-Bone Collisions
Almost all T-bone collisions are caused by a right-of-way violation, which is to say that one driver should have yielded to another and failed to do so.
Why do these right-of-way violations occur? They are often the result of:
- distracted driving
- blocked view of oncoming traffic
- misjudgment of the size of a gap when turning
- miscalculation of the speed of approaching traffic
- aggressive or reckless driving
- driving while intoxicated (DWI)
- failing to stop at a stop sign or red light
When establishing the facts of a T-bone collision, you will need to demonstrate that the at-fault driver was driving negligently. Any evidence of the above will strengthen a car accident claim against the at-fault driver, should you choose to file one.
Who Is At Fault for a T-Bone Collision?
In a T-bone accident, the driver who failed to properly yield the right of way is typically considered at fault, even if they sustained more damage or severe injuries in the accident.
For example, imagine that Car A runs a red light at a four-way intersection. Car B, which has a green light, is approaching at a perpendicular angle and strikes the side of Car A. In this case, although Car B struck Car A, the driver of Car A is at fault for failing to follow traffic laws and stop at the red light.
Because either driver in a T-bone collision may have been at fault, it’s important to take as much documentation of the accident as possible. Call the police and get a police report, take photos and videos of the scene of the accident and any resulting damage, and exchange information with witnesses who can attest to the circumstances that lead to the accident.
Can More Than One Driver Be At Fault for a T-Bone Collision?
The simple answer is yes. If both drivers exhibited signs of negligence that contributed to the accident, both may be considered at fault.
For example, imagine that Car A and Car B are both stopped at a four-way intersection behind stop signs. Car A arrives first and has the right of way, but Car B proceeds through the intersection at the same time. The driver of Car A could react appropriately by breaking and/or honking, but they were looking at their phone and failed to assess the situation.
This becomes an issue of comparative fault. Comparative fault is a legal term that refers to the percentage of responsibility each driver shares. California is a pure comparative negligence state, which means that you can still recover damages; it will just be reduced by your assigned percentage of fault.
For example, if you were 25% responsible for the accident, you can still recover up to 75% of the resulting damages from the other party.
How Can a Car Accident Lawyer Help?
If you were injured in a T-bone collision that you believe was at least partially caused by another driver, it’s time to talk to a car accident attorney. Filing a personal injury claim may seem like a straightforward process, but it requires a thorough understanding of state and county laws. In order to file a personal injury claim, you must prove that the T-bone collision:
- was caused, at least in part, by the other driver’s negligence
- left you with significant, life-altering injuries
- caused significant financial strain due to high medical bills, lost income, and more
Bear in mind that when you file a personal injury claim, it is the defendant’s insurance company that will have to pay for damages. Insurance companies keep experienced lawyers on retainer, who will do everything in their power to reduce your settlement.
However, a car accident attorney can help you compile the proper evidence, communicate with the defense team, and fight for the highest possible settlement that you can secure.
Hire the Best Car Accident Attorney in Cerritos
If you are the victim of a T-bone collision, it’s time to evaluate who was at fault. As you can see, the answer is not always as simple as it might seem.
To get started with the best car accident attorney in Cerritos, contact Heritage Accident Lawyers today. We will provide you with a free case evaluation so that you can make an informed decision about your next steps.