T-bone accidents, also known as broadside collisions or side-impact crashes, occur when a motor vehicle is hit on the side by another vehicle. It’s called a “T bone” because the positions of the vehicles form a “T” after the accident.
T-bone crashes are considered one of the more deadly types of impacts that can exist. In fact, more than half of all automobile accident deaths are caused by side-impact crashes. They are especially dangerous for anybody that’s sitting on the side of the car that’s hit because the force of the impact can crush the vehicle and cause catastrophic injuries to the occupant. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that close to 9,000 people each year lose their lives in T-bone collisions.
If you have recently been involved in a T-bone accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact an Orange County T-bone accident attorney at the Crockett Law Group to learn about how we can help you maximize your settlement. Call (800) 900-9393 for a free consultation with a car accident lawyer in Orange County.
Table of Contents
How Fault Is Determined For a T-Bone Accident?
Fault is rarely straightforward in T-bone accidents. More often than note, both drivers claim they had the right of way. Let’s take a look at the different ways T-bone accidents usually happen:
Liability will depend on whether the driver turning left has a solid light signal or a designated turn signal.
- Solid Light Signal: If the driver turning left only has a solid light signal, then the driver going straight is presumed to have the right of way. It’s the responsibility of the driver turning left to wait until traffic is clear before making their turn.
- Designated Turn Signal: If the driver turning left has a designated turn signal, then liability will depend on who can prove their light was green at the time of the accident. Whosever light was green had the right of way.
Liability will depend on whether you’re at an intersection with stop signs in only one direction or in both directions.
- Two-Way Stop Signs: When an intersection is controlled by a stop sign on one street, but not on the other, there’s a presumption that the driver on the street with a posted stop sign is at fault if a collision occurs in the middle of the intersection. It might be possible to prove that the car without the stop sign was speeding, but that claim is unlikely to be successful without hard evidence, like video surveillance or a witness statement.
- Four-Way Stop Signs: When there’s an accident at an intersection controlled by four-way stop signs, it’s common for both drivers to say they stopped and claim the other did not. Or, both drivers claim they arrived at the stop sign first so they had the right of way to proceed through the intersection. We often refer to this as a “word versus word” scenario where neither driver can prove how the accident actually occurred one way or the other.
If you were injured, the best-case scenario in this situation is for both drivers’ insurance companies to accept 50 percent liability for the accident. The worst-case scenario is both sides stick their heels into the sand and refuse to accept any liability whatsoever.
Exiting Driveways or Parking Spots
The driver going straight is presumed to have the right of way absent evidence showing otherwise. It’s the responsibility of the driver who pulls into traffic from a driveway or parking spot to make sure their path is clear.
What Are Common Injuries From T-Bone Accidents?
As the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety points out, protecting people in T-bone crashes is not easy because the sides of vehicles have relatively little space to absorb energy and shield occupants, unlike the fronts and rears of cars that have substantial crumple zones.
These are some of the most common injuries we see from people who are injured in T-bone accidents in Orange County, CA:
Arm and Shoulder Injuries
Because the impact is on the side of your vehicle, it’s common for victims of T-bone accidents to suffer serious injuries to their arms and shoulders. In a T-bone accident, your arm and shoulder might get injured as a result of being slammed up against your door.
Wrist and Hand Injuries
The driver’s wrists and hands might get injured in a T-bone accident as a result of them trying to tightly grip the steering wheel to regain control of their vehicle.
Leg and Hip Injuries
Side impacts can cause substantial injuries to your legs and hips. Like your arms and shoulders, your legs and hips might strike against the door in a T-bone accident, or they might get injured from the seatbelt that grabs you tightly to hold your body in place.
Head and Neck Injuries
T-bone accidents might cause injuries to your head or neck. Your head can get injured in a side-impact crash if it slams against the door, the “B pillar, steering wheel, or airbag. Similarly, your neck might get injured in a side-impact crash due to the jolting that occurs, both side-to-side and front-to-back, all the while your seatbelt is trying to hold you in place.
How Are Victims of T-Bone Accidents Compensated?
In order to be compensated for injuries caused by a T-bone accident, you have to meet all the usual elements of a personal injury claim: duty, breach of duty, that breach caused your injuries, and you’re in fact injured.
The most difficult element to prove in a T-bone accident is proving element #2: that the other driver breached a duty of care to you. This refers to liability. As discussed above, a lot of T-bone accidents are he-said/she-said situations. Unless you can prove the other driver ran the red light or ran the stop sign, for example, then you can’t prove they breached any duty of care they owed to you. If that’s the case, then you have no case.
The good news is that California is a pure comparative negligence state. That means that you can collect damages (i.e., money) even if you were as much as 99 percent at fault for the accident; your award for damages will simply be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if your injury claim is worth $10,000 but you’re found to be 50 percent at fault for the accident, then you would receive a settlement for $5,000.
Once you’ve established the other driver caused the accident, or was at least partially responsible for the accident, then you can collect compensation for the following things:
- The cost of your past and future medical treatment
- Any lost wages, both past and future
- The pain and suffering you’ve endured from your injuries
Under California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) 3920, your spouse might even seek compensation for the loss of your “companionship and services” while you were injured.
Review Your Injury Claim With An Orange County T-Bone Accident Attorney
As T-bone accident injury lawyers, we regularly represent the interests of victims who have been treated unfairly by an insurance company. Crockett Law Group is committed to handling your injury claim from start to finish and will fight to make sure that you receive the money you deserve. If you’ve been injured as a result of a T-bone accident, contact the Crockett Law Group to speak with a personal injury attorney in Orange County at (800) 900-9393.