T-Bone Car Accident Concerns
Who Is at Fault in a T-Bone Car Accident?
Collisions in which a car is hit directly on the side are often called T-bone accidents because one vehicle bisects the other like the bone does in a T-bone steak. These accidents are also often called broadsides. Unfortunately, T-bones pose a great threat to occupants of the T-boned car.
While all types car accidents are dangerous, occupants are more protected by cushioning, metal, and potentially airbags from crashes in other parts of the car. In a rear-end crash, occupants are protected by the trunk, and even in a head-on collision, occupants are protected by the hood.
A Driver Who Fails to Yield at an Intersection
Many T-bone accidents occur because a driver fails to yield at the intersection. A driver might, for example, sail through a red light, ignore a stop sign, or fail to stop when trying to cross a busy road. As another vehicle enters that space, the liable driver will strike the vehicle, often directly in the side. Sometimes, driver distraction or inebriation causes a driver to ignore the rules of the road and plow through the intersection.
Keep in mind that the driver who fails to yield may not always drive the vehicle that strikes the other in the side. Imagine, for example, that you stopped for a stop sign, then proceeded through the intersection on your turn. On the crossroad, another driver approached, but barely tapped his brakes or failed to stop at all as he progressed through the intersection. Due to your slower rate of speed, you might strike that driver in the side before you have time to stop, although he ran the stop sign.
Witness information can prove incredibly valuable in establishing fault in a T-bone collision, especially when the driver at the top of the T causes the accident. Often, first responders on the scene will leap to the conclusion that the driver at the bottom of the T must have caused the accident. Sometimes, however, it may turn out the other way around. If you believe that the other driver caused your accident, even if your car sat at the bottom of the T, contact an attorney for a full evaluation of your accident and your claim.
A Driver Who Hits a Stuck Vehicle
T-bone collisions can also occur when a driver gets stuck in the middle of an intersection or the middle of the road. Consider a situation in which a car stalled in the middle of a highway, as the driver tried to cross the highway or turn around. A distracted driver on the highway might plow directly into the side of that car, causing serious injuries.
The distracted driver might never have noted the presence of that other car due to distraction, but the stationary vehicle obviously did not cause the accident. In the case of a stuck or stalled car, the driver in motion bears liability for the accident, even if the stop occurs in an inconvenient or dangerous location. Paying attention while driving can help drivers avoid accidents with stopped or stalled vehicles.
Other Factors that Contribute to Liability in T-Bone Collisions
In addition to the obvious factors associated with driver liability, sometimes, you may find other parties who share liability in a T-bone collision. Discuss the specific circumstances of your accident with an experienced car accident attorney to learn more about your legal right to compensation and other entities that may share liability for your accident.
The other driver tried to stop for a red light, but his or her brakes failed. Instead of coming to a safe stop, the driver plowed through the intersection and straight into your car. The driver may have made every possible effort to stop, but mechanical failure made that impossible.
When mechanical failure contributes to an accident, it can change the balance of liability. Often, the manufacturer of the failed vehicle or vehicle component—in the case of T-bone collisions, often the brakes—will share liability for any injuries suffered as a result of that collision. In some cases, a mechanic who recently worked on the vehicle may also share liability.
Suppose, for example, that the driver of the vehicle with the failed brakes recently took the vehicle to a mechanic to have them replaced or repaired. The mechanic failed to properly replace the brake line, leading to a loss of pressure that ultimately prevented the vehicle from stopping and led to your collision. In that case, the mechanic may share liability for the accident.
On the other hand, if the owner knew that the vehicle had a problem with its brakes, but chose to drive it anyway—or loaned it to another party, who then caused your accident—the owner of the vehicle may bear liability for that failure.
A Commercial Driver
Commercial drivers’ employers often share liability for any accidents caused by their employees while on the clock. Employers bear strong responsibility for their drivers and the others who must share the road with them. Ideally, employers should carefully monitor their drivers to ensure that they do not break the law, manage routine maintenance on the vehicles used to complete that job, and make sure drivers have a solid understanding of their daily responsibilities, including safe driving responsibilities.
When employers fail to fill those obligations—by continuing to employ a driver who regularly causes accidents or failing to complete needed maintenance on a company vehicle, for example—they may share liability for any accident caused by that driver.
Did you suffer serious injuries in a T-bone collision? If you believe that another party’s negligence caused your accident, an experienced car accident attorney can help you understand your options.
Why Fault Is Important
People who were injured in a car accident may not care about fault. However, fault is important because the party responsible for the accident would likely be deemed responsible for your injuries and other damages under Texas law.
Texas is a no-fault car insurance state. If you suffer injuries, the at-fault party would be liable, or financially responsible for damages stemming from injuries directly caused by the accident. Every driver in Texas must show financial ability to pay for accidents they cause, generally by buying liability insurance.
To receive compensation for your injuries and other harm caused by the accident, you could approach the at-fault party’s insurance company or seek damages via a car accident lawsuit.
You could seek damage compensation for medical expenses related to your injuries, property damage, wages the accident or injury caused you to lose from work, and pain and suffering. If the injuries affected your ability to work, perform activities of daily living (such as bathing and getting dressed), and activities you love, damage compensation for pain and suffering may be possible.
The Importance of Evidence
To have a chance to obtain just compensation, you will need evidence about the accident. An insurance company and a court both look at who, what, why, where, when, and how an accident occurred to determine which party was negligent.
Negligence is a violation of the duty of care that a reasonably prudent person or organization would have exercised in similar situations. A driver who ignores right-of-way regulations, for example, broke the law. A reasonably prudent person would have followed the applicable traffic laws in that situation. A car manufacturer whose brakes do not function properly could be responsible for violating their duty to produce safe cars.
Evidence about the causes of a car accident comes in many forms. If you are in a T-bone crash, call 911 or the police immediately. Texas law requires a police officer who investigates a crash causing injury, death, or more than $1,000 in property damage to file a report within 10 days.
The crash report can be extremely important evidence. If you are able—that is, not too severely injured—tell the officer fully and completely what occurred. If a vehicle malfunctioned and caused the accident, tell law enforcement so it can be included in the crash report.
Get a copy of the crash report and keep it. If any records of car purchase or repair are relevant, keep them.
If you notice eyewitnesses and can speak with them, do so, and obtain their contact information.
In today’s world, many people carry a smartphone at all times. If you possess one (and it is not damaged in the crash), take pictures of all vehicles involved, as well as the surrounding environment.
If you are transported to an emergency room, keep all records pertaining to your injury. If you do not go to an emergency room, seek medical attention as soon as possible after the accident. The safest way to ensure your health is to ask for a doctor’s examination. Keep all records of medical treatment. Comply with all the recommendations of medical personnel.
Take pictures of your injuries as well.
In short, evidence that may be useful includes:
- The crash report from law enforcement
- Any eyewitness statements
- Any pictures of the crash scene
- Medical records and recommendations
- Any pictures of your injuries
- Records of car purchase and car repair, if relevant
What if the Insurance Company or Defense Questions Your Evidence?
Insurance companies frequently question or even ignore evidence about the cause of a T-bone accident. Their business model may be solely focused on maximizing profits, not to spearhead justice for accident victims.
To that end, they may accuse you of negligence in the accident. They may claim that the accident happened differently than you say. They may question the severity of your injuries, or the treatment you chose.
If the insurance company of the at-fault party does not treat you well, a car accident attorney could help investigate the causes of the accident and negotiate for the fairest amount of compensation possible.
If you have questions, contact an experienced car accident attorney today.
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