A car accident can change your life—for the worse. No matter how cautious and alert you are on the road, you are still vulnerable to a collision. A t-bone car accident is one of the most devastating kinds of car accidents. They cause serious injury to tens of thousands of Texans each year, putting many of them in the hospital and out of work for months and years at a time.
If you have been involved in such an accident, you will need medical attention. You will also be entitled to compensation. To pursue the latter effectively, you will need to hire a personal injury lawyer and learn all you can about your right to make a claim for damages.
T-Bone Car Accidents
The majority of side impact car collisions occur at intersections. The thing that makes t-bone car accidents so bad is that one vehicle takes the full impact of another vehicle at the most vulnerable point. Unlike a rear or frontal accident, in which there is enough chassis to provide some cushion to the blow, in a side collision the door is the only thing standing between a vehicle at full speed and the driver or passenger on the other side of it. As a result, the driver or passenger in the car that is hit will suffer the most harm.
Injuries from Side Impact Collisions and their Consequences
The driver of the other vehicle in such accidents is protected by standard safety devices such as a seat belt, an air bag, and their front-end chassis. If they are wearing their seat belt and their air bag deploys as it should, they are likely to suffer only minor sprains to their neck and perhaps some lacerations on their face.
The people in the vehicle that has been hit will sustain much worse. Broken bones, internal bleeding, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, and other severe conditions are the most common results of vehicle passengers and drivers who have been hit from the side by another car. The violence and shock of the accident will also leave lasting emotional and psychological trauma.
Dealing with the aftermath of a side impact collision is not easy. In the most severe cases, you will need to undergo a range of invasive medical procedures just to save your life. You will then need to stay in the hospital where you can be monitored as you heal and recover from the injuries you have sustained and the many operations it took to treat them. Even more time will be needed for rehabilitation and recovery. You will also need to take medication for the pain and other secondary conditions that may have developed as a result of the shock to your system.
None of this will unfold without significant financial burden. The medical expenses will pile up. You will also be deprived of an income while you are out of work. You may be out of work too long to hold on to your job. And if you sustained permanent injuries, you may need to give up your livelihood. Being forced into the latter can be especially tough if it is the only kind of work you have ever done.
T-Bone Car Accident Liability?
Given the desperate state that you and your family will be in after a t-bone car accident, it is important to find out who or what was at fault for the crash. You should then seek compensation from them. Tort law will help you get the money you deserve.
Torts is a body of civil law that allows people who have been financially or materially harmed in any way to seek damages in the form of compensation from the person whose negligence, recklessness, or maliciousness led to the injury.
Texas is a fault-based insurance state. This means the at-fault party will be liable to pay for everyone’s damages. Other drivers are often the at-fault parties in t-bone car accident claims, but not always. Property owners, product manufacturers, the government, and other parties may also share fault.
Potential Parties at Fault in a Side Impact Crash
If you are fortunate to be conscious, alert, and mobile after a side impact car crash and you give a statement to the police who respond to it, you should never admit fault. You should only give the facts as you understand them and reserve judgment on who was at fault for the crash.
If you end up in the hospital and must deal with the accident from your bed in consultation with your lawyer, the first thing you will need to do is figure out how the accident occurred and who was at fault for it.
In both instances, a gathering of the facts and a thorough investigation of the circumstances will be needed. You cannot always count on the authorities to do this kind of job. To get the fullest and most accurate account of what went wrong, you will need the help of a personal injury lawyer.
Here are 4 potential at fault parties in this kind of crash:
The other driver
Vehicles should never cross an intersection at right angles at the same time. A range of signs and signals exists at intersections across the nation to prevent this from happening. If the driver of another vehicle ran a red light or did not come to a complete stop when they were supposed to, then they may have been at fault for the accident.
Other driver factors can come into play. They are as follows:
- Speeding. Drivers who approach an intersection at high-speed increase the risk of an accident. This often happens when a driver who is already speeding sees the light turn yellow and believes they can get through the intersection before it turns red. Things may not work out as they plan, which can lead to disaster.
- Inattention. Drivers who approach a busy intersection are presented with a range of variables. This is one of the reasons why they must stop, look, analyze, and assess before making a turn. The focus of the driver must be on what is in front of them, not on what is being said and done by their passengers. Nor should any driver stop at a sign or traffic signal only to check their phone. Using a cell phone even while at a traffic light can lead to a crash. Such a break in attention may leave the driver unable to fully absorb the traffic situation before making a move.
- Alcohol, fatigue, illness. Alcohol can cause blurriness of vision and impaired motor reflexes. Anyone who have been drinking may not even notice a stop sign before it is too late. Fatigue is also a danger. People who insist on driving when they are overly tired risk falling asleep at the wheel and driving right through an intersection with oncoming traffic. The physical impairment of a driver can also lead to these kinds of collisions. This is a particular worry with older drivers, some of whom refuse to acknowledge that they no longer have the eyesight or reflexes to operate a motor vehicle.
The arc of legal liability
The driver who hit you may have been affected by factors beyond their control. If the driver was on medication and was not warned of side effects that may have contributed to the accident, the drug company or their physician can be held liable. If you were hit by a truck driver who was deemed unfit to be on the road, then the trucking company can be the target of your suit. The parents of an underage or non-licensed driver who hit you can be held accountable for the injuries you sustained in the accident.
The bottom line is that the arc of legal liability for a car crash can be long. This is one of the reasons why the circumstances of such an accident must be investigated in depth. It is important to understand all the factors that contributed to the incident.
There are times when the design of the intersection and the roads leading to it may have increased the risk of an accident. If accidents occur at the intersection more frequently than they should, then there could be a problem with its layout and configuration. In this instance, the city may be held liable for the accident and the injuries resulting from it.
Some of the features of dangerous intersections include:
- Poor sign and signal instalment. The more traffic that flows through a specific intersection, the more highly visible the signals designed to regulate it should be. However, highly trafficked areas are not the only places in need of good signage. In fact, some of the deadlier intersections are those that are away from busy areas. Rural areas in which the roads twist and wind toward intersections should adequately warn drivers that they are approaching a stop sign or signal light. Without such warnings, it is quite easy for people driving even at moderate speeds to mistakenly blow through an intersection and plow into another car.
- Blind curves. Road planners and designers should not create intersections on the other side of blind curves or at the bottom of blind hills. Doing so will only increase the likelihood of a side impact collision.
- Over-signage. Posting too many signs and directions at an intersection can confuse drivers. The latter need to make fast decisions when they approach an intersection. They should be able to tell where they are allowed to drive through or turn at an intersection without thinking about it too much.
Vehicle and parts manufacturers
Equipment failure is one of the most common causes of collisions. In these cases, the manufacturer of the vehicle or the equipment that failed can be held liable for the accident.
If you were harmed in a t-bone car accident caused by a defective part in your vehicle or the vehicle of the other driver, there are a host of companies you can press for compensation. You must start of course with the company that designed and manufactured the item that failed. However, it may be the case that an entire chain of companies—from distribution to retail—knew of the defective design and did nothing to stop the vehicle from being put on the market.
To be sure, you can hold the manufacturer accountable if you prove that they sold a defective part. However, you can hold other companies liable if they did nothing to stop a dangerous vehicle from getting on the road.
The Need for Legal Counsel and Investigation
As a victim of a t-bone car accident, you are not expected to figure out the value of your claim and the parties responsible for settling it. You need legal representation. The sooner you can speak to a car accident lawyer, the better. In fact, you should not accept any settlement offered until you have spoken with an attorney.
A personal injury lawyer will identify every party that is legally liable for the accident, investigate the circumstances of the accident and the parties responsible for paying, and negotiating a fair settlement with the latter.
Your lawyer’s main aim will be to get you the highest possible compensation. This can usually be done through skillful and effective negotiation. You need not sue the liable party unless they refuse to offer a fair settlement or stall negotiations for an unreasonable amount of time. The attorney will only file a lawsuit on your behalf as a last resort.