To most people, a car accident is simply a collision between two or more vehicles. The type of accident you are in is not something that tends to gain much attention until you must figure out who caused your injuries and losses. How a car accident happens influences liability, the severity of the injuries, and who is most likely to suffer injuries.

What Is a T-Bone Accident?

A T-bone accident occurs when a vehicle strikes another vehicle perpendicularly. This scenario entails the front end of one vehicle impacting either side of another vehicle. The name T-bone comes from the orientation of the vehicles at the time of impact, which forms the shape of the letter T. Another common reference for this type of accident is a side-impact collision or crash.

How Does a T-Bone Accident Differ from Other Car Accidents?

A T-bone accident is often very serious and can cause injuries and significant damage to both vehicles involved. Unlike other accidents, a T-bone accident places all passengers at significant risk of injury.

Most vehicle manufacturers focus on the safety and construction of the front and back end of a car, the most common impact points. In a T-bone accident, while the striking point of one of the vehicles is the front-end, the other vehicle is hit from one of the two sides. The side construction of a car provides much less protection and distance between the vehicle’s occupants and the point of impact in a T-bone crash. This can lead to a higher likelihood of significant injuries to those seated on the side that the other driver struck.

Who Is Most Commonly at Fault in a T-Bone Collision?

People might assume that the vehicle that impacts the other is the cause of the T-bone accident. This assumption is not always accurate. T-bone collisions do not have a default liable party because of the many circumstances that can lead to the accident. Depending on the facts of the case and the events leading up to the accident, either party may have caused the accident.

A T-bone accident usually occurs where vehicles are traveling in directions that intersect. This is why you may come across a T-bone crash along a busy interstate or highway. While accidents happen along these roads each day, the flow of traffic in one direction and lack of intersections make the possibility of a T-bone crash very unlikely. Nearly all T-bone accidents will occur at a traffic intersection.

What is the Most Likely Cause of a T-Bone Crash?

When a T-bone crash occurs, one of the two drivers probably caused it. However, the events leading up to the accident determine who acted negligently. A driver that violates another’s right of way on the road is likely negligent, but the driver of the vehicle that hits the other car may also be negligent depending on the circumstances.

The reality is that almost all T-bone accidents are avoidable, and it is often the actions of one driver that lead to this potentially devastating collision. Any time a driver takes their focus away from the road it can interfere with their reaction time and result in an accident. If a driver’s risky behavior or distracted driving causes a T-bone accident and injuries to others, they may have acted negligently and are liable for the damages incurred.

Common causes of T-bone crashes include:

  • Failure to stop at a stop sign or red light – The most common cause of a T-bone accident is a driver that fails to follow traffic laws and signals. Drivers that try to beat a yellow light, or blatantly drive through when they need to stop, are much more likely to collide with another vehicle in the intersection. This risky behavior can also cause a vehicle with the right of way to hit the risky driver.
  • Drunk driving – Intoxicated driving, or driving while under the influence of drugs, not only impairs a driver’s judgment but also their reaction time.
  • Distracted driving – Texting while driving, or any activity that takes the driver’s eyes off the road, can end in a T-bone collision when approaching an intersection. Distracted drivers commonly have no idea how an accident happened, as they didn’t pay attention to their surroundings before the crash.
  • Speeding – The faster a driver operates their vehicle, the more time they will need to come to a complete stop. Drivers that exceed the speed limit can risk a collision because they face difficulty stopping if a vehicle enters their path or a light changes.
  • Reckless driving – A driver who acts aggressively or recklessly behind the wheel of a vehicle is more likely to lose control, especially in higher-risk circumstances such as night or hazardous weather. A reckless driver can cause a T-bone accident if they lose control and their vehicle drifts into oncoming traffic.

What Injuries Can Occur in a T-Bone Car Accident?

The injuries to victims in a T-bone accident can be severe. T-bone collisions have significant force and momentum, often traveling in different directions, which can result in a devastating accident scene. When a T-bone accident happens, the force of one vehicle will push into another vehicle, which can lead to a rollover or spin out. This can cause additional impacts with other vehicles or fixed objects, such as poles, concrete barriers, or buildings. The events following the initial impact in a T-bone crash significantly influence the severity of the victim’s injuries.

Other factors that can affect the injuries in a T-bone crash include:

  • The size of the vehicles involved
  • The speed at which the vehicles are traveling
  • The disparity in weight, height, and overall size between both vehicles
  • The positioning of a victim in the car at the time of the crash
  • The location of primary impact to the vehicle

A T-bone accident is sudden and shocking to the body. In many T-bone crashes, the victims may not recognize that a crash is about to happen, which leaves them unable to brace or prepare for the impact. No part of your body is safe from a T-bone accident. The jarring impact and the continued force of the vehicle can cause multiple, serious injuries.

Common injuries in a T-bone car accident can include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Lacerations to the face or body
  • Other head and neck injuries
  • Lower back or spinal cord injuries
  • Broken bones or dislocations
  • Burns due to airbag deployment
  • Injuries to muscles, tendons, or ligaments
  • Injuries to the eyes due to flying debris

Can a T-Bone Accident Be Deadly?

It is not uncommon for T-bone collisions to result in the fatality of passengers. The people at the highest risk of death in a T-bone crash are often the occupants sitting closest to the point of impact. T-bone accidents are particularly dangerous because of the force of impact on the vehicle. If there is a significant difference between the size of the vehicle that strikes the other, the damage can be even more devastating. In studies conducted by the NHTSA, side-impact crashes, also known as T-bone accidents, are the second deadliest type of motor vehicle accident accounting for over 20 percent of fatalities.

The Costs of T-Bone Accidents

Any car accident can be expensive and cause significant losses to those involved. In a T-bone accident, however, people in both vehicles may sustain life-threatening injuries. If you are the victim of a T-bone accident, you may seek compensation from the at-fault driver or their insurer for the losses you sustain during and after a crash.

Compensation for damages in a T-bone collision can include:

  • Current and future medical costs associated with recovery
  • Lost wages and earning potential
  • Pain and suffering
  • Vehicle damages or compensation for the total loss of your car
  • Wrongful death compensation for the loss of a loved one

Who Can Seek Compensation After a T-Bone Accident?

If you are in a T-bone accident, you may be unsure whether you are eligible to seek compensation for your losses from another party. The answer to this question will depend on who is at fault for the accident. It is always best to consult with an attorney as soon as possible so they can help you understand who may be at fault and what your rights are in your case.

An attorney can also represent your interest to the opposing party’s insurance company and avoid risking any of your statements being used to lessen or deny your claim. A  lawyer will not only represent you through your insurance claim but can also help you gather the information and evidence you need to present a strong case for who is at fault for the T-bone crash.

Will You Need to Sue for Damages After a T-Bone Collision?

Lawsuits are not as common as settlements in car accident cases. Most T-bone car accident cases with a clearly at-fault party will settle through a negotiation that hopefully accounts for most of your losses. However, if the other party disputes fault for an accident or an insurer disputes the losses you claim, a lawsuit may need to seek the compensation you deserve.

Is an Attorney Necessary to Get Compensation in a T-Bone Accident Case?

If you are in a T-bone collision, you may face significant financial losses, including potentially long-term medical costs for your injuries and damages to your vehicle. You need a car accident attorney who can fight for you against the insurers and other interested parties. Damages in a T-bone accident can be significant and without an attorney, you may risk losing out on the total compensation you deserve. Put your energy into recovering from the traumatic experience of a car accident, and let an attorney put their energy into fighting for you.