What Is the Cause of T-Bone Accidents?

Posted on

A T-bone car accident occurs when a motor vehicle is hit on its side by the front end of another vehicle. The name refers to the “T” formed when the vehicles collide. Also known as broadside or side-impact collisions, T-bone accidents claim an average of 8,000 lives in this country every year according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). 

Side-impact car accidents are up by 20 percent over the past two decades, a statistic that should give every driver pause for concern. This discussion explains side-impact collisions, why they occur, and what to do if you are broadsided by another vehicle.  

How Do T-Bone Collisions Happen?

Most T-bone accidents happen at intersections, because that is where vehicles commonly travel perpendicular to each other prior to the collision. Here are three common examples of T-bone accidents: 

  • A driver misjudges the speed of oncoming traffic and is T-boned by an oncoming car while making a left turn. 
  • While legally proceeding through an intersection, a driver is T-boned by another vehicle running a red light or stop sign. 
  • A driver is T-boned by another vehicle while pulling out of a driveway, side street, or parking lot without checking for oncoming traffic. 

As can be seen from these three scenarios, sometimes fault lies with the driver who is broadsided by another vehicle. In other cases, the driver who T-bones the other vehicle is negligent and responsible for the accident. Every driver has a duty to operate their motor vehicle safely, according to traffic laws. That includes turning when it is safe and clear and obeying traffic signs and signals.  

Why Are Serious and Fatal Injuries Likely in Side-Impact Car Accidents?

According to NHTSA, 31 percent of multi-vehicle accidents in 2019 involved a side-impact collision. However, those same angled-impact crashes accounted for 46 percent of car accident fatalities that same year. This indicates just how dangerous these accidents can be. 

Unlike head-on and rear-end collisions in which occupants have the hood and trunk to reduce the impact, passengers in T-bone accidents only have the car side door to shield them from injury. 

In addition, vehicles involved in T-bone accidents are often traveling at high speeds. These accidents typically involve much more than a minor fender-bender. All of these conditions increase the chance of serious personal injury for anyone on the receiving end of a broadside vehicle collision.  

Common injuries resulting from T-bone car accidents include: 

  • Sprains and strains 
  • Whiplash 
  • Broken bones 
  • Joint injuries 
  • Punctured lungs
  • Pelvis fractures 
  • Scarring and disfigurement 
  • Head injuries 
  • Amputations 
  • Paralysis 

Fault in T-Bone Accidents

After a T-bone accident, it is important to determine who caused the crash and how to proceed with an insurance and/or a personal injury claim. There are several possible possibilities for who is to blame. 

One or both drivers. In most cases, when two vehicles collide at an intersection, one or the other driver is at fault. The driver who was hit may have turned when it was not safe or clear. Or the oncoming driver was speeding or ran a stop sign or red light. 

Sometimes both drivers are negligent. That is problematic in states that bar an at-fault driver from collecting compensation, even if they bear a small percentage of fault. This legal concept is called contributory negligence.  

Third-party equipment or vehicle manufacturer. Although this scenario is not as common, it is still possible that a T-bone accident is caused by an equipment failure on a vehicle. 

Suppose the oncoming car intended to stop at a red light, but its brakes failed, sending the vehicle careening through the intersection and broadsiding a vehicle lawfully traveling in front of them. In this case, the vehicle manufacturer who produced the defective brakes may be liable for the accident, or possibly the mechanic who installed the brakes incorrectly. 

Third-party drivers or pedestrians. Sometimes a third-party driver or pedestrian is responsible for a T-bone accident. 

Imagine a distracted driver traveling beside you suddenly veers into your lane while looking down at their phone. Your first reaction is to swing steer to the left to avoid hitting them.  As your car spins around, it T-bones another vehicle going the opposite direction. 

Careless pedestrians can also cause T-bone accidents.  Take a pedestrian who darts out into the street without checking for passing cars. A nearby driver swerves to miss them but ends up broadsiding another vehicle. In these situations, the third party may be partially at fault for a T-bone accident, even though they did not directly contact another vehicle. 

Attorneys who focus their practice on personal injury and car accident cases review all of the facts and gather key evidence to determine how and why a T-bone accident took place. 

Contributory Negligence in Maryland Personal Injury Case

Most states use a concept called comparative negligence, which considers both parties’ degree of fault and assigns compensation accordingly. Maryland is one of only five jurisdictions in the nation that use a system called contributory negligence.

Contributory negligence prevents someone in an accident from recovering damages if they are determined to be even a small percentage at fault for their accident. Even if the other driver is 99 percent liable for a T-bone accident, if the injured person was going over the speed limit at the time, they could be considered partially responsible. 

That minor percentage of liability is an absolute bar from recovery. If this seems unduly harsh for those injured in accidents, then you understand why so many attorneys and legal experts consider contributory negligence a bit archaic.  

Proving Fault for a T-Bone Accident

Until the law changes in Maryland, car accident lawyers representing injured clients have a substantial challenge to prove their clients are not liable in any way for their accidents. If not, their clients may be barred from receiving compensation for their medical bills; property damage; and other financial, physical, and emotional losses. 

Evidence Is Crucial in T-Bone Collisions

In T-bone car accidents and all types of collisions in Maryland, proving liability is an essential part of a successful claim. Evidence recovered at the scene is the cornerstone of a strong legal case for compensation. 

After you have received medical attention and everyone at the scene has been assessed and treated for injuries, you can focus on documenting the accident. 

Crash evidence includes: 

  • Police reports 
  • Contact information for all drivers 
  • Vehicle and insurance information for all drivers 
  • Names and phone numbers of witnesses 
  • Photos of damage to vehicles and other property 

After you leave the scene and go home, remember to copy and save any additional evidence related to your accident including medical reports, auto repair bills, documentation for lost income if you cannot work, and camera footage of the crash. Always share this information with your lawyer, as it may be useful to your case. 

Tips to Avoid T-Bone Accidents

T-bone accidents are largely preventable. Here are some tips to help you stay safe and avoid a side-impact collision while driving. First, remember who has the right of way when you are turning. You must always yield to oncoming drivers when you are making a left turn or a U-turn. 

Even if you have the green light, you have a duty to scan ahead for oncoming cars, be aware of your surroundings, and proceed with caution. When two vehicles enter an intersection without a traffic light at the same time, the driver on the right has the right of way. All drivers must yield to moving traffic when entering the road from a driveway or private street. 

If you or someone you care about was injured in a side-impact car accident, contact a trusted personal injury lawyer in your community to learn your rights and legal options going forward. 

Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Help Clients Recover from T-Bone Accidents

A T-bone car accident can be life-changing for those injured. Between medical bills, physical and emotional trauma, and the loss of your quality of life, it is easy to feel overwhelmed after a serious vehicle accident. The Baltimore car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton are available to help. We will investigate the cause of the accident and fight to obtain the compensation for which you are entitled. Call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

Our offices are conveniently located in BaltimoreGlen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent clients throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel CountyCarroll CountyHarford CountyHoward CountyMontgomery CountyPrince George’s CountyQueen Anne’s CountyMaryland’s Western CountiesSouthern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of CatonsvilleEssexHalethorpeMiddle RiverRosedale, Gwynn OakBrooklandvilleDundalkPikesvilleParkvilleNottinghamWindsor MillLuthervilleTimoniumSparrows PointRidgewood, and Elkridge.