T-bone accidents, also known as side-impact collisions, are incredibly dangerous and often result in serious injuries when compared to other types of car accidents. Depending on the force of the impact, a T-bone accident can severely injure or even kill a victim. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), almost a quarter of all car accidents that occur each year are T-bone accidents. T-bone accidents claim the lives of over 8,000 drivers and passengers and leave thousands of other victims injured. Some such crashes can leave victims wondering who was at fault for the accident and who is going to pay for their injuries and the damage to their vehicle. Understanding what can cause or contribute to this type of motor vehicle accident and how to determine who is at fault can help drivers stay aware and hopefully stay safe on the roads.
Common Causes of T-Bone Accidents
The leading causes of T-bone accidents are drivers running red lights and failing to stop at stop signs. Drivers who run red lights or stop signs are breaking the law and failing to allow the flow of traffic to proceed smoothly. Other common causes of T-bone accidents include:
- Distracted driving: This occurs when a driver is paying attention to their phone, texting while driving, watching a video, changing the radio station, eating or drinking, or even doing their makeup – all while behind the wheel of a vehicle. If a driver has their hands off of the wheel, eyes off of the road, and/or is daydreaming – they are driving while distracted and can easily cause a T-bone accident or other car crash.
- Driving under the influence: When a driver has been drinking or is under the influence of drugs and chooses to drive their vehicle, they immediately increase the chances of getting into a serious car accident. Those driving under the influence react slowly to changes around them and can easily impact another vehicle or a pedestrian, cyclist, animal, or roadway worker.
- Speeding: Drivers who are speeding reduce the amount of time they have to react to other vehicles around them. If a driver is speeding and fails to see a stop sign, they may not be able to stop in time to prevent an impact with another vehicle.
A variety of other factors can contribute to T-bone accidents, including bad weather like rain and ice that can cause one vehicle to skid into another. If a vehicle malfunctions, for example, the brakes stop working, that may also lead to a T-bone accident.
Determining Fault in a T-Bone Accident
Texas is considered an “at-fault” state for motor vehicle accidents. The driver who caused the accident is responsible for the injuries and other damages resulting from the collision. Determining who is at fault in a T-bone accident can be complicated, which is why it is critical to have an experienced personal injury attorney guide you through the claims process. Fault side-impact crash depends in part on who had the right of way at the time of the incident. If a driver ran through a stop sign, for example, then the driver did not yield the right of way and is at fault for the T-bone accident.
Determining fault may become difficult if there were no witnesses to the accident and/or the vehicles involved in the crash do not show who had the right of way. An at-fault party may try to blame the victim for causing the accident, which is why it is important to fully investigate the crash scene. Evidence your personal injury attorney may need to put forth the best possible case on your behalf can include:
- Statements from each party involved in the car accident
- Witness statements
- Police reports
- Video from nearby surveillance cameras or traffic cameras
- Photos from the scene of the auto accident
- Data on traffic patterns where the collision occurred
- Expert testimony
Determining who is at fault directly impacts the amount of compensation a T-bone accident victim may receive for their damages. Proving the other driver was entirely at fault for the crash will help you receive full compensation for your claim. Unfortunately, the victim of a T-bone accident is sometimes partially blamed for causing the collision by the at-fault party’s insurance company in order to avoid paying the full value of the claim. The insurance company may take the opportunity when there is little physical and anecdotal evidence to say that both drivers were at fault.
Texas comparative fault laws state that a victim’s compensation for a personal injury claim is reduced by the victim’s percentage of fault for causing the accident. If the victim was 51 percent or more at fault, the victim cannot recover any money at all for an injury claim. This is why insurance companies attempt to allege accident victims are partially at fault for car accidents even when they were not. This highlights why it is important to avoid stating anything that could be misinterpreted as admitting fault at the accident scene or to the insurance company adjusters. Any comments made to insurance adjusters can be used to shift blame onto you for the T-bone accident. Have your personal injury lawyer communicate with the insurance company so you avoid making a statement you may regret.