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T-Bone Accident Statistics And Other Legal Information

t-bone car accident

A T-bone accident — also known as a side-impact or broadside collision) — involves a motor vehicle being hit on its side by the front end of another vehicle. The term "T-bone" stems from the fact that in this type of collision the two vehicles form the letter ‘T’ following the incident.

T-bone collisions can be one of the most serious types of car accidents, as they often involve one vehicle running a red light or other type of signal and crashing into another vehicle traveling at high speeds. When motorcycles are involved in a T-bone type crash, the injuries and damages are even higher. 

T-bone Accidents: Injuries And Statistics

Crash research and analysis of accident data have revealed that T-bone accidents represent 13 percent of all car accidents in the United States. Additionally, 18 percent of all fatal car accidents (in which one or more person is killed) are T-bone style collisions.

According to the National Transportation Highway Safety Administration, about 8,000 people are killed annually in the United States in T-bone collisions. Side-impact collisions are the deadliest for children, and over the past 20 years, deaths caused by side-impact crashes have increased by 20 percent, from 31 percent to 51 percent due to increased travel speeds and heightened number of SUVs.

More than 50 percent of all automobile accident deaths involve a T-bone style collision. A broadside blow is more deadly than a head-on crash or rear-impact crash. In a right-angle impact collision the only thing separating between a person on the on-coming vehicle is glass and a thin door — no reinforcement or framing. For this reason side-impact, T-bone crashes are often fatal.

T-bone accidents often cause one or more of the vehicles involved to be knocked off course and into a second (or third) collision. Being pushed into oncoming traffic — or off course in general — means the occupants of the vehicle are at an extreme risk of further collision, whether that's hitting a guardrail, telephone pole, other vehicle, or leaving the roadway. It's not uncommon for T-bone collisions to result in a rollover.

But it's important not to only focus on T-bone wrecks involving death or permanent injury. Those who are lucky enough to survive a T-bone impact collisions often suffer brain injuries, broken bones, internal injuries, and back, neck and spine injuries. Occupants on the struck side of the vehicle often sustain far worse injuries than those received in rear-end crashes. 

The Right-Of-Way And T-bone Crashes

Here's a few things to know about T-bone car accidents, the "right-of-way," and how fault is determined:

  • Remember that oncoming traffic always has the right-of-way. Do not make a left turn unless oncoming traffic allows for plenty of space to turn. If you are trying to rush through oncoming traffic, you are not obeying the right-of-way and could potentially cause an accident. "Oncoming traffic" includes vehicles turning right.
  • Traffic signals indicate right-of-way, always follow them but also pay attention to your surroundings. If your traffic signal is green, you have the right-of-way. But remember to watch out for pedestrians.
  • Having a green light doesn't mean a driver can carelessly go through an intersection. Every driver has a duty of care to do what they can to avoid an accident. 
  • Always slow down or stop when you come to a "Yield" sign and only move on when moving traffic allows.
  • Obey any directions and yield to law enforcement and/or emergency personnel/vehicles.
  • If two vehicles enter an intersection at the same time, the vehicle on the left must yield right-of-way to the vehicle on the right. The vehicle that entered the intersection first has the right-of-way if they arrived at the same time.
  • All vehicles must stop and not enter the intersection when traffic is obstructed, regardless of what the traffic control device indicates.
  • Always yield to moving traffic when entering a road from a driveway or private road.

Causes Of T-bone Accidents

T-bone collisions are frequently caused by the at-fault driver’s failure to yield or give right of way to other vehicles. Those T-bone accidents that take place in an intersection or at a four-way stop are often caused by the at-fault driver’s failure to obey traffic signals, stop signs, or other traffic signals. 

Either driver can be at fault in a T-bone accident. More than one driver can be at fault for a t-bone accident as well. 

T-bone accidents may also be caused by poor or failing infrastructure. When stop lights and traffic signals are not operational due to power-outages, fallen power lines, mechanical failure, maintenance, etc., there is often a sharp and immediate increase in the number of t-bone-style car accidents and collisions. City and county officials often scramble to install stop signs or put officers in place to direct traffic. 

Most states and municipalities have laws which dictate that if an intersection’s traffic lights are out of service the drivers of vehicles approaching such the intersection should proceed as though the intersection were controlled by stop signs on all approaches. However, during a traffic light failure many drivers ignore this rule and enter the intersection at a high rate of speed and t-bone accidents result.

T-bone Collisions Involving Large Trucks

When a large truck is involved in a T-bone type collision, the results are usually far worse than accidents involving only passenger vehicles. Despite more cars have side-impact airbags, there is still a reduced buffer between the colliding truck and the people inside the vehicle. 

Large trucks cannot stop and start like smaller vehicles can. They cannot go from zero to 20 miles per hour very quickly. That means these huge trucks cannot “cut” in front of oncoming traffic like smaller vehicles can. But when these trucks do attempt a move like that, it can result in a T-bone truck accident. 

Truck drivers and the trucking company may try to blame you for causing the accident. The insurance companies may also blame you. The stress of the situation may be overwhelming. Before you accept or sign anything from the trucking company, make sure to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. 

Compensation After A T-bone Crash

Like any other car accident case, the types and amount of compensation available to T-bone crash victims depends largely on the facts, circumstances and parties involved in the incident. An experienced car accident attorney will identify the at-fault parties and secure compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, as well as any permanent injuries incurred.

The Seattle car accident attorneys at  Davis Law Group, P.S., have the necessary experience to successfully resolve your T-bone accident case. For a free, no obligation case evaluation, contact our office today. Call (206) 727-4000, use the chat feature on this page or fill out the contact form to get started. We don't get paid unless you win.

Chris Davis
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Chris Davis is the founder of Davis Law Group, P.S. in Seattle, WA.