T-Bone Accidents: Common Causes, Injuries, Determining Fault, and More

In a side impact crash, the person on the side of the wreck usually has the most serious injuries. However, both parties can be injured. Common T-bone accident injuries include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries, such as concussions and worse
  • Neck injuries that may include a herniated disc, spinal cord injury, or whiplash
  • Back injuries including spinal cord damage, paralysis, and/or nerve damage
  • Chest, pelvic and abdominal injuries
  • Broken bones, dislocated joints
  • Soft tissue injuries, such as torn tendons, muscles and ligaments

A t-bone accident is typically when the front of one vehicle collides into the side of another vehicle. It’s also called a side impact accident or broadside accident because of the location where the primary impact occurs. In most t-bone car accidents the location of the accident is at an intersection. But they can also happen any time a car crosses a roadway or street. The key notable factor of a t-bone impact is that the cars are going perpendicular to each other.

Who Is At Fault in a T-Bone Accident?

The reality is that the at fault party cannot always be determined by who t-boned who. Instead, fault in a t-bone accident depends on which car had the right to be moving forward. This is called the right of way. Both cars cannot have the right of way. Instead, in a t-bone accident, one vehicle had the right of way and the other vehicle violated that right of way.

The car that did not have the right of way will always have fault in a t-bone accident. But the car that did have the right of way may also have some fault for not recognizing what the other driver was doing. Unfortunately, there is rarely evidence at the scene to help figure out which vehicle had the right of way. Who’s at fault in this type of side impact accident will almost always come down to what the drivers and the witnesses say happened. When the drivers both claim they had the right of way, it will come down to who sounds more credible.

Who Is At Fault in an Intersection Accident?

Typical intersection accidents occur when one of the vehicles involved thinks they have the right of way when they don’t. The most common t-bone intersection accidents are:

Left Turn Accidents

A left turn t-bone accident that happens at an intersection can be either drivers fault. Sometimes the driver making the left turn thinks a red light has turned green when it is really red. When the driver makes the left turn, it may do so in front of a vehicle going the opposite direction that actually has the green light. Other times, the opposite happens. The car making the left turn does have the green light and has the right of way to make the turn. However, the car traveling in the opposite direction thinks the light is green for them when it is actually red. Either way the impact is usually severe because one or both of the cars will be traveling at a very fast speed.

Running a Red Light

In this type of t-bone accident, the drivers are driving perpendicular to each other. They are destined to cross each other’s paths. They both think they have the green light and therefore they both think they have the right of way. As a result, both cars will usually be traveling at the full speed limit for the road. Whichever car did that actually had the red light will be at fault.

Running a Stop Sign

A t-bone collision can happen at a four way stop but they are not as likely. This is because one or both cars came to a complete stop before entering the intersection. This gives the drivers enough time to recognize what is about to happen and stop in time.

The most common type of t-bone collision involves one car having a stop sign while the other car has no traffic light. In this type of t-bone crash it’s easy to determine who is at fault. The driver that had the stop sign will always have fault because there is no way to argue the driver did not have the right of way.

Who is At Fault if There is No Intersection?

Very similar to running a stop-sign when the other vehicle doesn’t have a traffic signal, typically the vehicle crossing the roadway will always be at fault because they do not have the right of way.

Leaving a Parking Lot

When a car is leaving a parking lot that does not have a traffic light, the driver of the car has an obligation to ensure the traffic is clear in both directions before crossing the street. When the driver does not see a car coming, they may pull out to cross the street and cause a t-bone accident.

Making a U-turn Across Traffic

Making a u-turn is not always a safe thing to do. If the driver making the u-turn fails to recognize a car coming the opposite direction they may pull into traffic and get hit on the side. The driver who is making the turn will typically be at fault in this situation.

If I Have the Right of Way Can I Ever Be At Fault for a T-Bone Accident?

The car that does not have the right of way will always have fault in causing a t-bone accident. But the car that had the right of way can also have some fault as well. That’s because the car with the right of way has a duty to pay attention to the road ahead and anticipate that a driver may cut across traffic. Typical ways a car with the right of way may have some fault in a t-bone accident are:

  • When a car crosses many lanes of travel before the t-bone occurs. In this situation the car that has the right of way may have some fault because there was enough time to see the other car travel across so many lanes of travel.
  • Failing to have headlights on when it is dark outside. This can cause a vehicle to turn in front of the vehicle without lights because they are hard to see.
  • Speeding
  • Driving while distracted by the radio, texting or talking on the phone
  • Drunk driving or driving while high on drugs
  • Brake failure because the vehicle was not properly maintained

Can a 3rd-Party Have Fault in a T-Bone Accident?

Sometimes it’s not just the drivers involved in the crash that have fault in a t-bone accident. For example, a tire store may not do a good job at fixing one of the vehicle’s tires. Or maybe the local Autozone didn’t do a proper job installing a headlight. If this happens the either 3rd party may have some fault in what happened.

In other instances a malfunction with the traffic control device could lead to a power outage or other mistakes. Sometimes it may not be either drivers’ fault. This can happen when the traffic control device malfunctions. This can happen when the traffic control device gives both drivers a green light. It can also happen when a traffic control device gives one driver a left turn signal and the crossing driver a green light.

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