T-bone accidents are one of the most common types of two-car accidents to occur at an intersection and one of the most dangerous types of car accidents to experience.
Also referred to as broadside or right-angle collisions, T-bone accidents occur when the front of one vehicle collides with the side of another. Here is a look at how fault is determined in a T-bone accident and why it matters to your ability to seek compensation for physical harm and property damage you incurred due to the accident. a car accident lawyer will help you in legal representation of your case.
Table of Contents
- T-Bone Accidents Generally Mean the At-Fault Driver Failed to Yield the Right-of-Way
- Why Does Fault Matter?
- Examples of Fault in Broadside Accidents
- Proving Liability in a T-Bone Accident Claim
- If You Gather the Evidence of Fault on Your Own, Do You Even Need a Car Accident Attorney?
- Can Fault in a T-Bone Accident Be Disputed?
T-Bone Accidents Generally Mean the At-Fault Driver Failed to Yield the Right-of-Way
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), slightly more than one-quarter of all fatal accidents involve a T-bone collision. T-bone accidents result in both a frontal impact for one vehicle and a side impact for the other vehicle.
These accidents are so dangerous because there are very few protective features on the doors of vehicles to protect the occupants sitting on the side of the vehicle that was struck broadside. Additionally, when the accident involves a large discrepancy between the vehicles, the smaller vehicle’s occupants typically face the highest risk of injury.
Determining fault for the accident, however, is not dependent on which vehicle’s occupants sustained the most serious injuries, nor can it be determined by the damage of the vehicles involved or each vehicle’s position in the accident. Instead, the fault for a broadside accident almost always lies with the driver who failed to yield the right-of-way to the other driver.
As explained by online driver’s training provider Safe Motorist, yielding the right-of-way simply means that a driver stopped and allowed vehicles in other travel lanes to enter and use the intersection before they do. The most common time when a driver must yield to others is at a red light or a stop sign.
Failing to yield means that the driver did not stop and allow other lanes of traffic to pass through the intersection when they legally needed to.
Because yielding the right-of-way at intersections is a feature of the traffic laws in every state or municipality with public roadways, failing to do so is considered a traffic violation and negligence. The driver who failed to yield will often be cited for their error when the police investigate the accident.
Why Does Fault Matter?
A T-bone accident occurred, resulting in damage to both vehicles involved and injuries to at least one occupant. Why does it matter who caused the accident? Fault matters because the person whose negligence led to the crash is legally responsible (liable) for compensating the injuries and property damage sustained by others.
Fault is even important in states that require drivers to obtain a no-fault personal injury protection (PIP) policy, as those who have been injured in accidents caused by another’s negligence still have the opportunity to seek compensation from an insurance policy held by the at-fault driver if they exceed the limits of their own PIP policy.
If you’ve been injured in a T-bone accident resulting from the other driver’s failure to yield, you have the right to seek compensation for the expenses and impacts of the accident from that driver’s auto liability insurance policy. However, if you were determined to be the one who failed to yield the right-of-way, resulting in a T-bone accident, a claim can be filed against your auto liability insurance policy to compensate occupants of the other vehicle for the expenses and impacts of injuries they sustained as well as for property damage.
Examples of Fault in Broadside Accidents
Here are some examples of how a driver can be at fault for a T-bone accident.
- One driver is progressing through an intersection on a green light when another driver attempts to make a left-hand turn without ensuring that there is a sufficient gap in traffic in which to do so. The left-turning driver turns into the path of the vehicle that has entered the intersection, causing that vehicle to strike the left-turning vehicle broadside. In this situation, the left-turning driver is at fault for the accident.
- One driver turns left with a solid green arrow, indicating they have the right of way. As they complete their turn, a distracted driver in a lane with a red light runs the light and collides with the side of the car, making the turn. The driver who has run the red light is generally at fault.
- While in a parking lot, a traveler fails to stop at a stop sign and collides with the side of a vehicle attempting to pull out of one of the parking lanes. In this case, the driver who did not stop at the stop sign is at fault.
Proving Liability in a T-Bone Accident Claim
For a successful outcome to a car accident claim against an at-fault driver’s liability policy, the injured party and their attorney must prove:
- As a result of their use of the public roadway, the at-fault driver had a duty to obey all traffic laws and operate their vehicle safely to avoid causing physical injuries or property damage to other roadway users.
- The at-fault driver breached this duty when they failed to yield the right of way to other vehicles as required by law.
- This breach in the driver’s owed duty resulted in a T-bone accident in which the claimant was injured and sustained expenses and psychological impacts resulting from that injury.
Your attorney will investigate your claim to find evidence to prove the other party’s fault.
The evidence that can prove fault in a right-angle accident includes:
- A copy of the accident report by the investigating police officer. Police officers will attempt to interview all parties involved in the accident and decide based on the information provided in those interviews as well as what the scene reveals regarding damages to the vehicles, such as skid marks on the roadway that reveals one of the driver’s attempts to avoid the accident.
- Any citations issued to the other driver for infractions that led to the accident, such as failure to yield or impaired or fatigued driving.
- Accounts of eyewitnesses who saw the accident. The police officer often interviews these witnesses at the scene, and their insights and contact information are included in the report.
- Video footage from cameras at businesses and residences in the area, as well as from traffic cameras, can either show the accident taking place or can show that one of the drivers involved was exhibiting bad driving behaviors in the moments leading up to the accident.
If You Gather the Evidence of Fault on Your Own, Do You Even Need a Car Accident Attorney?
But isn’t the report alone enough to convince the at-fault party’s insurer that their insured caused the accident?
As it turns out, the police report often isn’t the only type of evidence needed to prove the claim. Furthermore, a number of things must happen during the personal injury claims process that someone who is not educated in the laws put in place to protect drivers would not necessarily know.
Some of the activities involved in building a personal injury claim are very difficult for an injured driver or vehicle occupant to handle on their own, such as:
- Evidence must prove the claim, and documentation must justify the claim’s value.
- Valuing the case based on factors such as the amount of available insurance, the severity of the injury, and the presence of permanent injuries. Many claimants believe that the money they should seek for their injury can be determined simply by adding up the medical expenses and wage loss they incurred due to the accident. However, these are only a part of the compensation that can be sought after a T-bone accident. An attorney can establish a value that also includes compensation for the psychological impacts of the injury, such as physical and emotional pain and suffering.
- Communicating with the insurance provider in a way that gives rise to a settlement offer and avoids giving the adjuster ammunition to use to reduce the claim. It is important to understand that the insurance claims adjuster’s goal in resolving the claim has very little to do with ensuring your expenses and impacts are compensated, and a lot to do with protecting the insurance company’s bottom line.
- Filing your claim as a lawsuit in court within the statute of limitations. If the at-fault party’s insurance provider fails to either pay your claim outright or engage you in a settlement agreement, your attorney can file a legal complaint in court in order to have a judge or jury hear the case and decide whether compensation is owed to the claimant by the at-fault party. However, all states have a statute of limitations. Failing to file a lawsuit within this period will generally doom a car accident claim. The court will no longer hear the case if it expires, and the at-fault party’s insurance provider will no longer settle the claim.
- Following the court’s formalities and procedures. When car accident claimants attempt to navigate a lawsuit independently, they are disadvantaged. They are expected to know the court’s formalities and procedures just as the defense attorney used by the at-fault party and their insurer is. Failing to understand how to conduct discovery or respond to motions filed by the other party will typically result in a loss in court.
Can Fault in a T-Bone Accident Be Disputed?
Although a broadside accident would be an open-and-shut case, the at-fault party’s insurance provider can find many reasons to deny or dispute claims.
The insurance company might dispute the claim because:
- The police officer who investigated the accident could not determine who had the right-of-way.
- You spoke with the claims adjuster and offered information not included in the accident report. The insurance company used that information to cast doubt on how the accident occurred.
- The claims adjuster believes the pain and discomfort you are experiencing result from pre-existing conditions, not injuries sustained from the accident.
- You did not seek prompt medical treatment for your injury or failed to comply with your physician’s treatment plan, which the insurance provider will take as an indication that your injuries are not as serious as you’ve claimed.
- You, the other driver, and the eyewitnesses at the scene all offered differing accounts of the accident.
- The insurance provider feels that some of the costs you incurred when treating the injury were unnecessary.
An additional service that an experienced car accident attorney can provide is the ability to work through the insurance provider’s concerns, providing the necessary documentation to demonstrate the need for the treatments you have received or additional compensation that is sought due to the presence of permanent injuries that will affect your ability to earn an income and affect your quality of life in the future.
Your personal injury attorney in Philadelphia is well-equipped to handle a disputed claim and knows when to file a lawsuit and seek a court decision.