If you’re the victim in a head-on car accident, you at least have the front bumper and engine compartment of your vehicle to give you some protection. In a rear-end crash, you have the rear bumper and trunk/hatch between you and the other car. In a T-bone wreck, however, you have neither.
A T-bone accident is a broadside collision in which the front end of a car crashes into the side of your vehicle—where your door panel is your only protection. Side impact crashes result in the most severe of all car-accident injuries and cause 25% of traffic fatalities in the U.S.
Reasons for T-Bone Accidents
T-bone crashes occur most often at intersections, in parking lots, and on busy streets, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The causes of side impact accidents include:
Failure to yield/unsafe left turn.
A driver who makes an illegal left turn at an intersection or doesn’t wait for oncoming cars to clear before making a legal left turn often causes a T-bone crash.
Eating, drinking, supervising children, applying cosmetics, adjusting a radio, or talking/texting on a phone can take a driver’s attention from the road and lead to a T-bone wreck.
Drivers of commercial vehicles often spend long hours on the road and might not be alert to other cars in an intersection or pulling away from a curb.
Drug and alcohol use.
The reduced vision, slow reflexes, and poor judgment that result from driving under the influence can lead to broadside collisions.
Running a stop sign or red light.
A driver who speeds through an intersection after the light has turned red might hit or be hit by a car that has just entered the intersection on a green light.
Bad weather/low visibility.
Failure to slow down and use extra caution under dangerous conditions can cause a T-bone accident.
All of the above are examples of negligent driving. Any victim of a T-bone crash caused by a negligent driver is entitled to file a claim against the at-fault motorist’s insurance company for:
- Property damage
- Medical bills
- Lost income
- Pain and suffering
Because T-bone wrecks often result in catastrophic injuries and very high medical expenses, the at-fault driver’s insurer may deny your claim or offer you a quick, low settlement to save money for the company.
Common T-Bone Crash Injuries
The initial impact of a vehicle crashing into your door or even penetrating the interior of your car, combined with the resulting impact(s) of your body hitting hard surfaces, sharp corners, or objects in the car, can result in catastrophic injuries:
Despite the safety benefits of seatbelts, they can cause internal damage to intestines, bowels, and veins in a T-bone accident.
Dissection of aorta.
A T-bone crash can tear the large blood vessel that comes from your heart, causing the middle and inner layers of the aorta to separate, which can be fatal.
Concussion/traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Impact to your skull can result in physical, sensory, or cognitive malfunction. Some TBI victims are left in a coma and require long-term or lifelong care.
Spinal cord injury.
Damage to discs, ligaments, nerves, and/or vertebrae can cause chronic discomfort, reduced mobility, and paralysis.
The side impact of a T-bone crash can snap the neck from side to side like a whip, causing painful soft tissue and nerve damage that severely limits your range of motion.
Bone injuries heal very slowly and are inconvenient, at best, in terms of daily/work activities. If broken bones are not properly set, they can heal incorrectly and result in chronic pain and/or disability.
Cuts from glass or sharp objects inside the car can result in loss of blood and permanent scars.
Limbs are sometimes so badly injured in a T-bone crash that they cannot be saved.
T-bone accidents are more likely to be fatal than other types of crashes are.
Protecting Your Claim
If you’re physically able to do so, you can take a number of steps after a T-bone crash to protect and strengthen your claim for damages:
- Stay at the scene and move to safety but don’t move your car unless it’s in a position to cause more accidents.
- Call 911 to report your wreck.
- Take photographs of all cars involved in/affected by the wreck, as well as the accident scene.
- Exchange information with the other driver(s) but do not discuss the accident or get angry.
- Get contact information from any witnesses to the crash.
- Note the position of any nearby video cameras.
- When law enforcement arrives, answer their questions honestly but give only the required information.
- Don’t admit any fault to anyone.
- Seek medical attention immediately.
- Contact your insurance company.
- Consult a car accident lawyer.
How Comparative Negligence Affects Your Case
A substantial number of T-bone crashes occur when one car turning left fails to yield and strikes another that is going straight through an intersection. In such a case, the vehicle turning left is generally found to be at fault for the wreck. There can, however, be exceptions to this rule:
The car turning left:
- Has a green arrow
- Is forced in mid-turn by another car to swerve, stop, or brake suddenly
The car going straight:
- Runs a red light or stop sign
- Is speeding
- Violates the law in any other way
Because South Carolina observes a comparative negligence standard in personal injury cases, you might be found partially responsible for your own wreck in one of the circumstances described above. Such a finding could reduce or completely eliminate your compensation. Having an attorney in your corner to help prove the at-fault driver is primarily responsible for your damages may be helpful in this situation. Your lawyer will help you obtain a fair settlement by:
- Calling in expert witnesses/an accident reconstructionist if necessary
- Organizing/presenting your medical evidence
- Obtaining video footage from nearby cameras
- Interviewing witnesses
- Negotiating for a fair settlement
- Observing the statute of limitations
- Fighting for you in court if necessary