A T-bone accident occurs when one car hits the side of another, forming a T-shape. It can happen at intersections, highways, or interstates. Some people refer to it as a side-impact crash or a broadside collision.
The 2020 IIHS Fatality Facts reported 5,475 deaths from side impacts. The accidents accounted for 23 percent of the crashes involving motor vehicle occupants. Moreover, the fatalities included 3,524 and 797 car and pickup occupants, respectively.
In 2023, a T-bone collision in Utah killed a 19-year-old man and injured two others. The Utah Department of Public Safety stated that poor road conditions contributed to the car accident. Similarly, a side-impact crash in Texas led to the death of a 51-year-old woman.
Contact a car accident lawyer if you have been in a T-bone crash. An experienced attorney can help you obtain a fair settlement or maximum compensation for your losses.
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Things To Do After a T-Bone Accident
After a T-bone collision, accident victims should seek immediate medical care. They should also gather evidence and contact a personal injury attorney who can negotiate with insurance companies. More importantly, they should try to recover damages from the negligent party.
Seek medical attention
Getting immediate medical attention after a side-impact collision allows you to protect your health and avoid worsening your injuries. Some symptoms may not show right away, so it is crucial for a doctor to provide an accurate diagnosis. Failure to seek medical care may result in long-term complications.
Moreover, make sure to follow the doctor’s recommendations to avoid any claims of negligence. The proper documentation of your injuries will help strengthen your case. Hence, request a copy of your medical records detailing injuries and treatment received. Your medical file should also contain the initial treatment report and imaging results.
Although a 40 mph side-impact collision involves average speed, it can still result in serious harm to the human body. For instance, it can cause whiplash, a neck injury leading to a stiff neck, loss of range of motion, headaches, and fatigue.
Some accident victims may also suffer from traumatic brain injuries. The complications associated with brain injuries include seizures, infections, hydrocephalus, and brain death. These injuries can lead to communication problems, behavioral changes, and degenerative brain diseases.
The impact of a 40 mph crash can also cause spinal cord injuries. Car crash victims may suffer from complete or incomplete paralysis. The lifestyle changes brought about by the spinal cord injury can also lead to depression. According to Mayo Clinic, patients with spinal cord injuries must be taken to the hospital immediately to increase their chances of recovery.
Airbag injuries are also common after a T-bone accident. Although the deployment of airbags can protect your internal organs and prevent serious injuries, they may still cause minor ones. The injuries linked with side airbags include chest trauma and broken bones. It’s best to check if your airbags are activated and wear your seatbelt to prevent devastating injuries.
Gathering evidence after a car crash is crucial to prove your personal injury case. Your car accident attorney can use it to attribute liability to the other driver. For example, you can request CCTV footage showing the other driver using their cell phone before the incident occurred. It can strengthen your argument that the other motorist caused the accident.
Moreover, recorded evidence often provides an objective view of the incident. For instance, a car accident police report contains:
- Details about the T-bone collision
- Statements from the vehicle occupants; and
- Witness statements
The court and insurance companies consider the police report as an impartial narration since officers without interest in the case prepared the document.
Other evidence includes photos showing the accident scene, your injuries, and damage to your vehicle. You can also compile witness testimony to corroborate your arguments. The other party can easily refute your claim if you simply state that the other driver was driving aggressively. However, the court or insurance company will likely consider your argument credible when someone can verify it.
You must also get the other drivers’ information. Section 550.023 of the Texas Transportation Code mandates the drivers to provide the following details:
- Name and address
- Vehicle’s registration number
- Insurance company
- Driver’s license
Similarly, Section 4549.02 of the Ohio Revised Code requires the involved drivers to give each other their names, addresses, and registration numbers. Failure to provide information may result in fines and imprisonment. In Ohio, violators may be charged with a fourth-degree felony if someone sustained injuries due to the incident. If the T-bone collision led to a fatality, the violator might face charges for a second-degree felony.
Contact a personal injury attorney
A personal injury lawyer will play an essential role in your case. They will provide legal advice regarding your rights. For instance, they will discuss the applicable laws, making complex legal concepts easier to understand. As a result, you can have a better grasp of your options and the proceedings.
Moreover, they will investigate the T-bone collision and use the facts in your favor. They will review the evidence and talk to the witnesses and the police. In addition, your attorney will collect other evidence to strengthen your claim. Rather than passively gathering documents and testimonies, they will look into the details to establish liability for the other party.
They will also evaluate your damages, ensuring you know what to expect should you win the case or enter a settlement. Your attorney will assist you in filing a personal injury case within the statute of limitations. Likewise, they will provide legal representation by arguing in court and interrogating witnesses.
However, you must choose your personal injury attorney wisely. First, evaluate their experience in handling similar cases. Ask for their main practice area and number of years in litigation. For instance, if they focus on medical malpractice cases, they might not be the best fit for your case. Instead, hire a lawyer with experience in car accident cases.
You should also consider their demeanor. Pay attention to whether they are willing to answer your questions and how they answer them. Their response can show the potential attorney-client relationship you will have.
In addition, you should inquire about the attorney’s fees. Other law firms accept a contingency fee arrangement where they will receive up to 50 percent of the recovery amount. Some lawyers will only agree to hourly or flat fees. Ensure you understand the fee arrangement before agreeing to it.
Deal with the insurance company
In no-fault states, you must file a claim with your insurer, regardless of who caused the accident. You should contact your insurer immediately and provide them with the following details:
- Contact information of people involved in the accident
- Photographs of the damaged vehicle
- Location, date, and time of the collision
- Copies of accident reports
No-fault states only allow lawsuits that satisfy certain monetary and verbal thresholds. For example, Section 304.39-060 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes states that the claim must involve at least $1,000. Other states have verbal thresholds involving accident injuries. Section 5102 of the New York Insurance Law outlines the specific serious injuries that may allow the filing of suits against the other party.
In at-fault states, you must file a claim with the other driver’s insurer. You must prove the other driver’s liability to receive a payout. The insurance company will only pay up to your policy’s limits. Hence, the liable party must compensate the accident victims for the excess.
If an uninsured driver caused the crash, you may use your uninsured motorist coverage, which can cover medical expenses. You may also sue the uninsured motorist, but it may be pointless if they do not have any assets.
Your car accident attorney will compute the settlement amount you will propose to the insurance company. They will guide you on when to accept the offer. It is usually not advisable to agree to the first offer since it may be lower than you deserve.
Insurance companies may also deny claims for different reasons. For example, the claimant failed to promptly inform the insurer about the accident, or the insurance adjusters discovered the claimant lied during the process. Hence, be truthful and transparent with your attorney and the insurer.
You can receive damages if your attorney proves the other party’s liability. In a T-bone collision case, you can invoke the doctrines of negligence or product liability. The elements of negligence include the following:
- The other driver’s legal duty to the plaintiff;
- The breach of such duty;
- The plaintiff sustained an injury; and
- The connection between the breach and injury.
A sample scenario involves an aggressive driver who caused a side-impact accident. The driver had a duty to follow the traffic rules but failed to do so. Consequently, their behavior caused severe injuries to another motorist. In this case, the victim can demand compensation from the negligent driver.
On the other hand, product liability has the following elements:
- The auto company sells a product that the plaintiff uses;
- The manufacturer is the commercial seller of such item;
- The plaintiff sustained an injury;
- When the manufacturer sold the product, it had defects; and
- The defects caused the plaintiff’s injury.
After a T-bone accident, victims may receive general and special damages. General damages aim to compensate a victim’s mental anguish, disfigurement, and pain and suffering. It also includes loss of companionship in case a loved one dies. In contrast, special damages aim to cover a victim’s medical bills, rehabilitation fees, and vehicle repair costs.
Comparative and contributory negligence systems can also affect the damages you may receive. Under the comparative negligence principle, the courts may reduce the award according to each party’s degree of negligence. If the plaintiff is 49 percent liable, they can only recover 51 percent of the recovery amount.
Under the contributory negligence principle, the plaintiff may not receive any amount if they acted negligently. For example, even if the plaintiff is only two percent liable, they cannot recover damages.
Causes of Side Impact Car Accidents
The common causes of T-bone crashes include the following:
- Distracted driving
- Reckless driving
- Traffic rule violations
- Incorrect assumptions about traffic conditions
Distracted driving involves any activity that takes the driver’s attention away from the road. It includes texting or talking on the phone, drinking or eating, talking to other passengers, and fiddling with the stereo or navigation system. In 2021, distracted driving claimed the lives of 3,000 people.
In contrast, Section 23103 of the California Vehicle Code defines reckless driving as operating an auto vehicle in willful disregard for other persons’ safety. It goes beyond careless or negligent driving.
Failure to follow traffic rule regulations can also cause a T-bone accident. For example, a driver who ignores traffic lights or a stop sign may collide with the side of another vehicle. Similarly, a motorist who fails to yield the right of way can cause a side-impact crash.
Ways To Avoid T-Bone Accidents
Fortunately, you can prevent T-bone car accidents. Here are tips that can save you and others from life-threatening injuries caused by a T-bone collision:
- Follow traffic regulations.
- Come to a complete stop when approaching a red light or a stop sign.
- Be cautious in poor road conditions.
- Wait for enough space before making a left turn at an intersection.
- Double-check blind spots before making a turn.
Did you know?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that the cost of motor vehicle accidents amounted to $340 billion in 2019. The costs accounted for 36,500 deaths, 4.5 million injuries, and 23 million damaged vehicles.
Hire an Experienced Attorney After a T-Bone Accident
A 40 mph T-bone collision can cause physical injuries, mental trauma, and death. Victims may feel overwhelmed or unsure of what steps to take after the accident. It’s best to find a reputable attorney. They can help you receive proper compensation for your injuries.
Visit The Personal Injury Center for free legal information about car accident cases and their legal processes. Book a free consultation today and tell us more about your case!
Find personal injury attorneys who can represent your interests in a T-bone car accident case. The Personal Injury Center can match you with a lawyer who has handled similar cases.
FAQs on T-Bone Accidents
What is the spoliation of evidence?
Spoliation of evidence happens when a party intentionally destroys or fails to preserve evidence relevant to a case. A party may willingly spoil evidence to protect their interests and escape liability.
What are other types of car accidents?
Other kinds of motor vehicle accidents are rear-end and head-on collisions. In a rear-end crash, the front bumper of one vehicle hits the rear of another. In contrast, head-on or front-end accidents occur when cars driving in opposite directions collide.
Can you get insurance after a side-impact collision?
You can purchase auto insurance after an accident, but it will not cover the crash. If you are found liable, you must compensate the other party with your own funds.