By Pendergast Law on September 30, 2020
Intersections are one of the most likely spots for a car accident to occur as drivers must contend with both vehicles in their own lanes and the cross flow of traffic. Oftentimes, these accidents occur when one driver is blindsided by a driver traveling perpendicular to them, leading to a T-bone accident. These collisions can be extremely scary, as drivers and passengers may not be aware of what just occurred. The lasting results can follow them for years to come as they must deal with catastrophic injuries.
What Happens in a T-Bone Accident?
T-bone accidents often involve one vehicle colliding with the sides of another vehicle, which is why they are also called side-impact and broadside collisions. Most of the time, this collision is focused on the center of the vehicle’s front and back doors, although the damage can be limited to the front and back of the car. In both situations, drivers and passengers can suffer severe trauma throughout their bodies.
During these collisions, the full force and weight of a vehicle are driven into another vehicle’s side, often causing that side to collapse in on itself. While car manufacturers have rolled out models that feature side-impact airbags that deploy from the car doors, most safety features are centered around the front driver’s side of the vehicle, meaning there is little protection for occupants in a T-bone accident.
As a result of this, occupants often suffer from:
- Traumatic brain injuries due to striking their head against the side of the car or dashboard
- Spinal cord injuries as the upper body is jerked back and forth
- Crush injuries to the lower extremities, including the hips, legs, and feet
- Broken arms and wrists
- Neck and back injuries due to the jerking motion of the accident, often leading to whiplash
- Lacerations from shattered windows and pieces of metal
- Tinnitus from the airbag exploding or a loud impact
What makes matters worse is the fact that driver-side passengers are often children whose injuries may be more extensive in the crash.
In addition, when a collision occurs in an intersection, there is the possibility of multiple impact points. The car may be knocked into another lane of traffic, either leading to a head-on or rear-end collision that only adds to the trauma suffered by the occupants. Because of the amount of damage involved in these events, victims will need significant compensation in order to cover their medical bills. But, before that can occur, they must determine who was at fault for the accident.
How T-Bone Crashes Occur
Because T-bone accidents often occur in intersections, the primary cause of the accident is a violation of the right of way. However, who violated the right of way can vary. If a driver ran a red light or stop sign, then they can either collide with another vehicle or be the one that is hit. However, because of Washington’s comparative negligence laws, a driver who violates the right of way may have severe limitations on how they receive compensation. Comparative negligence allows multiple parties to share fault for an accident, but a traffic violation can heavily push the fault onto one driver over the other, even if they were the one that was hit.
Right of way violations can become more complicated with left-hand turns. You may be quick to blame the turning driver for violating the right of way of oncoming traffic; however, if the accident occurred on a blind turn or steep hill, one could argue that the oncoming driver was speeding and thus at fault for the accident.
Even in situations where the victims of T-bone accidents suffer catastrophic injuries, determining negligence can be tricky. Oftentimes, insurance adjusters and attorneys will look at specific traffic violations when reviewing claims to determine how fault can be applied. This can include:
- Running red lights or stop signs
- Ignoring yield signs
- Distracted driving
- Fatigued driving
- Right of way violations
Following a T-bone collision, it is important to bring your case to an experienced Seattle car accident attorney who can evaluate fault and help you determine if you can pursue a car accident claim. Our team has more than 30 years of experience handling claims throughout the Seattle area and can review all angles of a T-bone accident. Even if you are partially at fault for a T-bone collision, you may be able to pursue compensation.