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What Does T-Bone Mean in a Car Accident?

Written by Ankin Law Office

A T-bone accident is an automobile collision where one car is struck on the side by the front end of the other vehicle. T-bone collisions have several legal consequences for car accident victims. The violent nature of T-bone collisions results in car accident victims suffering serious injuries. T-bone collisions occur for a variety of reasons. Depending on the facts of a collision, one or more parties may be liable. The complex nature of a T-bone collision means a victim faces a difficult battle against an insurance company in his or her fight to obtain compensation for his or her injuries.

How T-Bone Accidents Happen

T-bone collisions occur at a variety of locations. They are a common occurrence at dangerous Chicago intersections. While T-bone collisions often occur at three or four-way intersections, they can also occur on two-way roads and on interstates or highways. T-bone collisions can also occur in parking lots. This is because vehicles backing out of parking spaces are vulnerable to being struck by vehicles traveling through the parking lot. T-bone collisions typically feature two vehicles simultaneously entering an intersection from crisscrossing directions. Due to both vehicles entering the intersection at the same time, the front end of the striking vehicle collides with the side of the impacted vehicle. T-bone collisions can also occur when a vehicle attempts to pass another vehicle or while changing lanes.

Causes of T-Bone Collisions

It is typically believed that the driver of the striking vehicle, or the vehicle that hit the side of the impacted vehicle, is automatically at fault in a T-bone accident, but this is not always the case. The State of Illinois is a fault based State regarding motor vehicle accidents. This means the driver of the vehicle that caused the collision is required to compensate the other driver for his or her injuries. There are several reasons why T-bone collisions occur, such as:

  • A driver operating his or her vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • A driver driving his or her vehicle above the posted speed limit
  • A driver failing to pay full time and attention to his or her surroundings
  • A driver texting, or talking, on his or her cellular phone while driving
  • A driver failing to obey traffic control devices such as traffic lights or stop signs
  • A vehicle with a mechanical issue, such as an unexpected brake failure

The circumstances surrounding a T-bone collision accident claim are often complex because one or both drivers may have conflicting versions of how the collision occurred. This makes it difficult to litigate and win a T-bone lawsuit without an experienced attorney.

Litigating a T-Bone Accident Lawsuit

To win a personal injury case, a victim must prove all the elements of his or her accident claim. A victim must prove the other driver’s negligence, and that the collision caused his or her injuries. A victim must also prove his or her case by a preponderance of the evidence, i.e., 51%. Meeting this burden of proof can be difficult in T-bone cases. If the victim is able to obtain evidence, such as traffic camera footage, photos of the collision and property damage, or independent witness testimony, it is more likely he or she will be able to meet this burden. A word vs. word situation occurs if a victim lacks independent evidence and the other driver refuses to admit fault. This means a victim may not be able to meet his or her burden of proof. 

Successfully litigating a T-bone accident case means intensive investigation and preparation by a car accident lawyer. A victim’s lawyer must attempt to obtain independent evidence. If the attorney is unable to obtain independent evidence, or if the evidence does not exist, he or she needs to prepare the victim’s testimony so he or she appears more credible than the opposing driver. The attorney also needs to prepare a victim’s case for possible defenses. 

In a word vs. word situation, an insurance company will argue the victim cannot meet his or her burden of proof. An insurance company may also argue the victim is responsible for causing the collision. Under Illinois’s Comparative Negligence Law, a victim can recover as long as he or she is not deemed to be more than 50% at fault. 

Potentially Liable Parties in a T-Bone Accident

Depending on the facts behind a collision, there may be multiple liable parties. In a simple T-bone car accident case, the liable party may just be opposing the driver. However, if the at-fault driver was driving a company vehicle, the driver’s employer also has legal exposure. This is because an employer is liable for the actions of an employee. If an accident was caused by a mechanical defect in one of the vehicles, the mechanic that last serviced the vehicle may also be at fault. Finally, if a collision occurred because a traffic control device was not properly maintained, then the municipality may be at fault. 

Common Injuries Resulting from T-Bone Accidents

T-bone collisions often cause victims to suffer severe bodily injuries. This is because T-bone accidents feature vehicles being struck on the door. This is the area of an automobile with the least amount of padding or protection. Occupants of vehicles are naturally seated next to doors. This means a victim’s body receives a substantial amount of kinetic energy in a T-bone collision. The force of the initial impact can cause one or both vehicles to roll over or spine at a high rate of speed.

T-bone collisions cause victims to suffer a variety of neck injuries such as whiplash. Victims are also vulnerable to back injuries, such as herniated discs. Victims can also suffer head injuries, such as concussions and traumatic brain injuries. Depending on force of impact, victims can also suffer broken bones, and internal injuries or organ damage. Victims of less severe collisions often suffer contusions and other soft tissue injuries.

Damages Available After a T-Bone Accident

The financial compensation a car accident victim can potentially claim is based on his or her damages, which in turn is based on his or her injuries. The injuries car accident victims suffer often require them to obtain medical treatment. Victims of severe accidents frequently need to be transported by ambulance to a hospital for emergency medical treatment and possibly surgery. Following this, victims with severe injuries need additional medical care such as orthopedic care and occupational therapy to recover from their injuries.  Victims with less severe injuries usually only require basic treatment at an urgent care center, or with their primary care provider, followed by physical therapy. Some victims are unable to work due to the injuries they suffered. Personal injury victims frequently find themselves deeply in debt due to the cost of their medical treatment.

T-bone accident victims can claim economic and non-economic damages through a personal injury lawsuit. Economic damages are based on the financial losses a victim suffered. These losses include past and future medical expenses and past and future lost wages. Victims can also claim expenses related to property damage. Non-economic damages are the emotional distress, mental anxiety, and pain and suffering a victim endured from the accident.  

Categories: Auto Accidents