A T-bone collision, also known as a side-impact collision or broadside collision, occurs when the front of one vehicle hits the side of another, forming a “T” shape. T-bone collisions are particularly dangerous because the side of a vehicle offers less protection than the front or rear, and the passengers in the vehicle hit from the side face a higher risk of severe injury or death.
In these collisions, the side impact force could also cause the vehicle to spin or rollover, increasing the risk of severe or fatal injury. If that happens, here’s why you need a car accident attorney to seek compensation for you.
Common Causes of T-Bone Accidents
Common causes of T-bone accidents include:
- Reckless driving, including swerving around stopped traffic
- Running red lights and stop signs
- Failing to yield to oncoming traffic when turning
- Drowsy/fatigued driving
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Distracted driving behaviors, including cell phone use, eating/drinking, grooming, applying makeup, interacting with passengers or pets, adjusting the radio/navigation/infotainment, or reaching for an object in the passenger cabin
- Driver inexperience with the rules of the road
- Poor visibility due to nighttime or heavy rain/fog
- Inadequate vehicle maintenance or vehicle defects, especially involving tires and brakes
- Unsafe road/intersection design or inadequate road maintenance, including failing to fix broken or malfunctioning traffic signals
What Should You Do After a T-bone Accident?
You might be able to pursue compensation if a careless driver injured you in a T-bone accident, but you need to act quickly to protect your interests.
To protect your rights:
- Take photos and videos of the accident scene, including vehicle damage, skid marks on the road, traffic signals/control, and any visible injuries you suffered
- Report the accident to the authorities by calling 911 or law enforcement at the accident scene
- Seek immediate medical attention to have a doctor examine you and diagnose injuries you sustained in the crash
- Notify your insurance company of the accident as soon as possible
- Keep copies of bills, invoices, and receipts of your expenses from the accident, including medical care and vehicle repairs
- Gather your medical records and income statements to document your injuries and lost earnings
- Start a diary or journal to record your recovery, documenting any pain and mental you experience
Finally, speak to a T-bone accident attorney about your situation and get started on your claim. You have a limited time to seek compensation after a crash, so don’t wait until it is too late to get the justice and compensation you deserve.
What Options for Financial Recovery Do You Have After a T-bone Crash?
You have several avenues for recovering money for injuries and losses from a T-bone accident. First, you could pursue a legal claim against the driver at fault for the T-bone accident, which usually means filing an injury claim against the at-fault driver’s auto liability insurance.
You might also have legal claims against other parties, such as an owner who lent the car to the driver, or the at-fault driver’s employer if the crash occurred while the driver was on the clock.
You might also turn to your own car insurance if you have certain coverages, including:
- Med Pay. An optional coverage that provides money for medical expenses incurred to treat motor vehicle accident injuries.
- Collision coverage. Another optional coverage that will help cover the costs of repairing your vehicle or that can provide reimbursement for the value of a totaled car.
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Optional coverage that provides compensation you could typically recover from the at-fault driver if the driver does not have liability insurance or their policy limits will not fully compensate you.
Compensation Available in a T-bone Accident Claim
Through an injury claim, you could seek compensation from the at-fault driver for the financial and personal losses you incurred or will incur in the future due to the crash.
A successful settlement or verdict could provide you with money for your:
- Car repair bills or reimbursement of your car’s value if totaled in the crash
- Medical and rehabilitation services, including ambulance transportation, hospital care, surgeries, prescriptions, and physical/occupational therapy
- Long-term care for permanent disabilities that result from your injuries, including home health services, housekeeping services, purchases of medical/mobility equipment, or renovations to install disability accommodations in your home
- Lost wages/income incurred due to missed time from work
- Loss of future earning capacity and employment benefits, such as health insurance or pensions, caused by permanent disability preventing you from returning to work
- Physical pain and emotional distress, including distress caused by reduced quality of life from disabilities or significant scarring/disfigurement
Determining Fault for a T-Bone Accident
You cannot assume that the driver who “T-bones” another vehicle bears responsibility for the crash.
Instead, determining fault for a T-bone accident depends on various pieces of evidence, such as:
- Accident scene photos and videos
- Surveillance or traffic camera footage
- Dashcam footage
- Eyewitness statements
- Police accident reports
- Post-accident vehicle inspections
- Driver breath/blood/urine test results
- Driver cell phone records
- Vehicle event data recorder (“black box”) logs
- Post-accident vehicle inspections
- Accident reconstruction expert reports
Fault for a T-bone accident also affects liability for an injured victim’s losses under California’s comparative negligence rule. The rule divides injury liability in proportion to each responsible party’s percentage of fault for the accident, including the injured party’s fault.
An injured accident victim could seek compensation even if they bear some or most of the fault for the accident. However, a partially at-fault injury victim will have liability for a portion of their losses in proportion to their percentage of fault.
How Long Do You Have to File a T-Bone Accident Lawsuit?
In California, the statute of limitations imposes a deadline for filing a lawsuit after a T-bone crash. You must file your lawsuit to recover compensation for injuries within two years of the accident, while you must file a property damage lawsuit within three years of the crash.
If a driver in a state or local government vehicle T-boned you, you might have shorter claim deadlines. California’s Tort Claims Act obligates you to provide notice of your T-bone accident claim to the relevant government agency within 90 days of the accident.
Failing to file your claim or lawsuit within the deadlines of the statute of limitations or Tort Claims Act may result in you losing your opportunity to recover compensation from those at fault for the crash if you do finally file an untimely claim. These deadlines make it crucial to begin working on your T-bone accident claim as soon as possible, including contacting a T-bone accident lawyer who can help you with your case.
What Can a T-Bone Accident Lawyer Do To Help You?
The best decision you can make after a T-bone crash is to hire an experienced injury lawyer to represent you.
While you focus on recovering from your injuries, your attorney could help you by:
- Investigating the accident to recover evidence for your case, including taking photos or videos of the crash scene, interviewing witnesses, securing surveillance/traffic camera footage, and obtaining police accident reports
- Consulting with expert witnesses to help build your case, including accident reconstruction, medical, vocational, and financial experts who can explain what happened in the accident, the injuries you suffered, and your ongoing and future expenses and losses
- Gathering your medical records, bills, invoices, receipts, and income statements to document the injuries and losses you suffered from the accident
- Sitting down with you to explain your legal options and what to expect during the claims process so you can make informed decisions at each stage of your case
- Communicating with insurance adjusters, defense attorneys, and lien collectors on your behalf so you can focus on your recovery
- Filing insurance claims and demand letters for you to begin pursuing the compensation you need and deserve
- Aggressively negotiating for a fair settlement or filing a lawsuit in your case if litigation becomes necessary to fight for financial recovery and justice
Frequently Asked Questions About T-bone Accidents
Common questions that T-bone accident victims have include:
Should I Talk to the Insurance Company After a T-Bone Accident?
You should not talk to insurance adjusters after a T-bone accident until you’ve consulted with an attorney about your crash and legal options. The other party’s insurance adjusters will likely ask you questions about your injuries or condition or request a written or recorded statement about the accident.
However, the adjuster might try to get you on the record saying something the insurance company can later use to deny, delay, or underpay your claim, including minimizing the severity of your injuries or shifting blame for the accident onto you.
You should let your attorney handle all communications with the insurance company. Your lawyer can provide the adjusters with only the information they need to process your claim, protecting you from fishing expeditions into your prior medical history or other irrelevant details.
Your Bakersfield car accident lawyer could negotiate on your behalf with the insurer to secure a fair settlement that provides you full compensation for your injuries and losses. If the other party offers a lowball settlement or denies your claim outright, your lawyer might advise you to file a lawsuit and seek compensation in court.
How Long Will My T-Bone Accident Claim Take?
It can be challenging to predict how long a T-bone accident case will take to resolve. Some claims settle within a few months, while others take a couple of years to resolve at trial.
Factors that could affect the timeline of a T-bone accident claim include:
- The severity of the injuries you suffered in the crash and whether you will have any permanent disabilities or impairments from your injuries
- Whether you are temporarily or permanently disabled and cannot work for some time
- The financial losses you incur or will incur in the future
- The availability of insurance coverage and the applicable policy limits
- The number of injured parties
- The number of liable parties
- Whether you share any fault for causing the accident
- The strength of your legal case
- The skill and resources of your legal counsel
- Whether you must file a lawsuit to pursue your claims
- The schedule and availability of the court
Do I Need a Lawyer To Pursue a T-Bone Accident Claim?
It is natural to worry about the time and expense of hiring a lawyer to help you with your T-bone accident claim. However, people who hire experienced injury lawyers to handle their cases will typically recover more compensation than those who try to handle their claims on their own.
Connect with Law Offices of Mickey Fine and our Bakersfield personal injury lawyer could put their skills and resources to work for you and could help you recover the money you need and deserve.