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Liability in T-Bone Crashes

Side damage on black car, t-bone crash liability

Sadly, T-bone collisions are both frequent and dangerous enough that they are one of the most lethal types of accidents that occur on the road. In 2020, broadside collisions accounted for 23% of all vehicle occupant deaths in the United States, preceded only by front-end collisions, which took 58% of all lives lost to auto accidents. Even more concerning is that nearly all T-bone accidents are preventable, with most being caused by pure carelessness.

Need to Know:

  • T-bone collisions are one of the most lethal types of accidents that occur on the road.
  • In 2020, broadside collisions accounted for 23% of all vehicle occupant deaths in the United States.
  • The process of determining liability in a T-bone accident can be complex, as it often involves multiple factors, such as the speed of the vehicles, the position of the vehicles at the time of impact, and the actions of the drivers.

T-bone accidents are a common yet dangerous type of accident that occurs when the front of one vehicle collides with a driver or passenger side of another vehicle. These side-impact collisions (also called broadside collisions) earned the name “T-bone” because when they happen, the affected vehicles form the shape of the letter “T.”

If you have been victimized by another driver’s negligence, you may be entitled to financial compensation for the damages you have incurred as a result of a T-bone accident.

In This Article:

Common T-Bone Accident Scenarios

T-bone collisions are serious accidents that occur all too often. A variety of scenarios can put you at risk of a T-bone collision, but they occur most often when a driver fails to yield to another driver with the right of way.

The most common T-bone collision scenarios occur at traffic intersections. At crossroads controlled by stop signs, drivers may proceed through the intersection without allowing the driver with the right of way to go beforehand, causing the cars to collide. Despite four-way stop intersections being very common and rather uncomplicated, broadside accidents at intersections such as these happen frequently.

At intersections controlled by traffic lights, T-bone collisions happen in a variety of ways. Motorists often assume that other drivers will stop at a yellow light, prompting them to proceed through the light when turning left. However, many drivers will drive through a yellow light just before they turn red, causing them to crash into the turning motorist. T-bone accidents also happen when a motorist runs a red light, causing another car traveling lawfully through the intersection to either strike or be hit by the car in perpendicular opposition.

There are, of course, outliers when it comes to T-bone crash scenarios. For example, a side-impact collision may occur when a driver is turning on a two-way street and makes his turn at the wrong time. Or perhaps an inexperienced driver is unsure of who has the right of way at a roundabout, causing them to make a dangerous decision when entering traffic. Rural areas with unmarked intersections may also cause confusion for drivers, especially if they are unfamiliar with the area, and cause them to crash into vehicles traveling perpendicular to them. Regardless of how the T-bone impact may have occurred, there are many circumstances that may cause a wreck and a variety of factors that can be assessed to determine who is to blame for the accident.

Common Causes of T-Bone Crashes

As with any automobile accident, many causes may be at the root of a T-bone collision. Some of the most prevalent reasons behind side-impact crashes include the following:

Preventing these circumstances is key to avoiding potentially lethal side-impact collisions. Drivers who fail to take every precaution at their disposal may be found responsible for the damages that occur following a T-bone crash.

Who Is at Fault in a T-Bone Collision?

It is a common misconception that if a driver made the initial impact into another vehicle, they are automatically at fault for the accident itself. This is far from the truth. Liability can only be determined through an expert’s close inspection of the evidence at hand. Details are critical in reaching a conclusion about the liability in a t-bone crash.

For example, imagine that a man driving a truck approaches a four-way intersection with a green light, but needs to turn left. He proceeds to make a left turn but suddenly slams into the driver’s side of a sedan traveling in the opposite direction, who was attempting to go straight through the green light. You may think the truck driver is at fault for this accident because the sedan had the right of way. However, if the driver of the sedan was traveling over the speed limit or misusing their turn signal at the time of the accident, that driver may be fully or partially liable for the accident.

Another common misconception is that only one motorist may be held liable for a traffic accident. However, most states apply a concept known as “comparative negligence” when determining fault in an auto accident. Comparative negligence dictates that multiple parties in a case may be found at fault for an accident. The manufacturer of a vehicle may even be found partially at fault for an accident if it is discovered that parts of the vehicle were defective. Unless you live in a state that does not apply comparative negligence (which includes Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.), different parties may be found partially liable on a scale of 1 to 99 percent.

The process of determining liability is not always straight-forward. It is not unusual for both drivers in an accident to deny responsibility, which calls for investigators and attorneys to take a close look at all available evidence, including any accident reports, photos, videos, and eyewitness accounts. You should not assume you were liable for an accident until you’ve discussed the circumstances at length with an attorney; you could be surprised by the factors that are considered when determining liability.

Common Injuries in T-Bone Accidents

Despite T-bone accidents often occurring at low speeds, the nature of the collision is quite dangerous. The perpendicular position that a car must hit another vehicle in order to form a “T” shape means that the impacting vehicle must drive directly into the side of the opposite car, putting the driver and their passengers at intense risk for injury or death.

Common injuries resulting from T-bone collisions include:

  • Blunt force trauma
  • Bone fractures
  • Herniated or bulging spinal discs
  • Soft tissue damage
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Bruises, burns, cuts, and scrapes
  • Full or partial paralysis
  • Death

Sadly, the suffering of T-bone accident victims is not exclusive to physical pain. Injured victims are often subjected to financial hardship in the aftermath of an auto accident. This is because many people must take time off work to recover from their injuries; sometimes, injured people can’t return to work at all. Victims and their families are also frequently burdened by hefty medical bills, which are even more difficult to pay off without a steady stream of income.

Saddled with the loss of their autonomy, ability, and financial stability, it is unsurprising that those who have been injured in an auto accident also face the possibility of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Although financial compensation won’t reverse the pain and suffering that a victim has endured, the reward that may be attained through a personal injury lawsuit could significantly improve one’s quality of life and assist families on their road to recovery.

Case Study: $5.1 Million for Client Who Suffered Spinal Injuries After Being Hit in a Side-Impact Collision

Our client, a 38-year-old El Salvadorian landscaper, was on the job as he rode passenger-side in a company-owned vehicle in Queens, New York. The driver of the truck continued through an intersection, which lacked a stop sign; this lack of signage indicated that our client’s driver had the right of way. As they passed through the intersection, another driver ran a stop sign and collided into the passenger side of the truck, where our client was seated. The accident happened so quickly that our client did not recall seeing the other car approaching before the collision. During deposition, the driver of the other car admitted that she failed to stop because she was looking for a nearby park, yet she had been to the park many times before.

Our client experienced immediate pain in his shoulder, neck, and lower back, causing emergency services to escort him directly to Flushing Hospital. It was eventually revealed by an MRI that our client was suffering many disc bulges and protrusions throughout his spine. In response to these injuries, our client had to undergo two spinal fusion surgeries. He was not able to return to his job as a landscaper.

Firm Partners Jeffrey A. Block and S. Joseph Donahue successfully achieved $5,160,916 in damages at trial, despite the defense’s claims that our client’s injuries were pre-existing.

Legal Help for T-Bone Crashes

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a T-bone collision, you may be able to file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit and obtain financial compensation for the pain and suffering you have endured. Don’t make the mistake of assuming you don’t have a viable case; our attorneys are ready to meet you for a free consultation, where they can offer you the benefits that accompany decades of legal experience. We have recovered well over $1.5 billion in compensation for our clients.

Don’t wait to move forward with your personal injury case. To schedule a free consultation, fill out our online contact form or call 212-736-5300. Our firm serves New York and New Jersey.

Select T-bone collision case results include:

  • $6,000,000 settlement for a passenger who was injured while riding a city bus that was hit by a flatbed truck
  • $4,600,000 settlement for a man who suffered herniated discs in his lumbar and cervical spine after a negligent driver ran a stop sign
  • $3,000,000 settlement for a single mother who was riding the city bus when it was suddenly T-boned by an emergency services vehicle
  • $1,200,000 settlement for an unemployed driver who suffered herniated discs after being T-boned by a driver who failed to stop at a stop sign.

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