Who Is at Fault in a T-Bone Accident?

In this article, you will read about:

  • Statistics about side-impact collisions
  • The reasons why T-Bone accidents are so dangerous
  • Common injuries in T-Bone accidents
  • How to prove fault and see compensation for a T-Bone accident in Indiana

Types of collisions:

  • Frontal impacts accounted for 57% of all passenger vehicle occupant fatalities in 2019.
  • Side impacts accounted for 23% of all passenger vehicle occupant fatalities.
  • Rear impacts accounted for 6% of all passenger vehicle occupant fatalities.
  • Other impacts (mostly rollovers) accounted for 14% of all passenger vehicle occupant fatalities.
  • If you take SUVs and pickup trucks out of the mix, side-impact collisions accounted for 27% of all car occupant fatalities in 2019.
  • In single-vehicle collisions, side-impacts accounted for 19% of all car occupant fatalities.
  • In multiple vehicle collisions, side-impacts accounted for 33% of all car occupant fatalities.

All vehicle accidents are unpleasant at best and tragic at worst, but the T-Bone collision is particularly dangerous. There are several reasons for this:

  • Side collisions often happen in intersections when both vehicles are traveling at high speed.
  • Unlike in a rear-end collision, there isn’t even a second of warning to try to slam on the brakes.
  • When your car is hit from the front or the rear, there are several feet of bumper, hood, engine, dashboard, seats, plastic, and steel between you and the other vehicle, but in a side impact, you or your passengers have only a door and window to cushion you.
  • Although vehicle manufacturers have developed side curtain airbags and torso side airbags, they are not yet standard in every new car, nor are they as effective as front airbags.
  • Both car SUVs (also known as “crossovers” or CUVs) and truck SUVs have increased in popularity each year, to the point where they have a combined market share of 50% in 2020. Pickup trucks make up another 20% of the market as of 2020. All of these vehicles weigh considerably more than cars and can do a lot of damage in a side collision.
  • SUVs and pickup trucks have higher points of impact than cars; in a T-Bone collision, they demolish the side of the car where the driver or passengers sit at exactly the wrong place. (The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has been rating side-impact crashworthiness since 2003.)

Types of injuries in T-bone collisions:

Because there is no cushioning from the crumple zone at the front of the car, the broadside collision focuses all of its force in one place, a dangerous scenario. Possible injuries include:

  • Back and neck injuries as the occupants are shaken side to side
  • Broken bones from impact
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Lacerations
  • Internal bleeding
  • Muscle and soft tissue injuries
  • Head injuries, including traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
  • Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Who is at fault?

There is no one answer to this question since every accident has different circumstances, but the rule of thumb is that whoever didn’t have the right of way is at fault.

For example:

  1. Your car is turning left on a green arrow, but a vehicle in the oncoming lane plows through a red light, hitting you broadside. You had the right of way — the other driver is at fault.
  2. You stop at a stop sign and proceed into an intersection only to be slammed in the side by a car whose driver didn’t stop at the four-way stop. You had the right of way.
  3. You are traveling along in the right-hand lane when suddenly a car drives straight out of the grocery store parking lot, and you slam into the side of it. You did the T-boning, but you are not at fault because you had the right of way.

Often, the other driver’s insurance company will try to lessen the degree of fault belonging to their driver. They may try to prove that you were speeding, for example. Maybe you were speeding. This doesn’t change the fact that you had the right of way.

Indiana has a modified comparative fault negligence system, which means that one or more individuals can share in the liability for an accident. Each party’s contribution to the accident factors into the amount of damages he or she can recover.

If an individual’s percentage is greater than 50%, he or she is barred from recovery. In other words, if you had the right of way in the broadside collision and the other driver was found to be at least 51% at fault, he or she cannot receive compensation. If you are held partially liable (but 50% or less), your compensation would be reduced by a proportional amount.

None of this is simple, so you would definitely need to consult an experienced car accident attorney to fight for the compensation you deserve in any scenario like this.

Proving fault and seeking compensation:

  • Don’t ever admit fault or apologize at the scene of an accident.
  • Make sure that you get a copy of the police report.
  • Take photographs of the accident scene from various angles if you can do so safely.
  • Collect witness statements.
  • Seek medical attention and keep copies of all medical records, including medication receipts.
  • Keep a record of lost wages due to injuries or trauma.
  • In complicated cases, your car accident attorney can find expert witnesses, accident reconstructionists, engineers, and sometimes even surveillance videos from area businesses in order to establish the cause of the collision and identify the responsible party.

Call Poynter & Bucheri Accident Recovery at 1-800-265-9881 or (317) 780-8000 to request your free consultation with an Indianapolis car accident attorney. Your free case review includes an explanation of your legal rights, a discussion of your options, and our legal opinion of your claim based on our years of experience handling car accident claims in Indianapolis.