A “T-bone” car accident is when one car hits another car on either side from head on. This forms the shape of a T, like the bone in a T-bone steak. This is one of the most dangerous kinds of accidents. Cars have far fewer safety features to protect collisions to their sides.
Most drivers’ intuitions would suggest that the car with front-end damage would be the at-fault driver, but that is not necessarily true. There are a lot of other possibilities to look at if you intend to prove who is really at fault in a T-bone car accident.
Where Can a T-Bone Car Crash Happen?
The classic case of a T-bone car accident is when someone runs a red light at an intersection, but there are other places it can happen. These include:
- Making a left turn through an intersection
- Leaving a driveway
- Leaving a parking lot space
- Making a U-turn
- Making a left out of a center turn lane
Any situation where two cars could come together in a T shape could cause this kind of accident. It can even happen in the middle of another accident if a car gets turned sideways.
Why Are T-Bone Car Accidents So Dangerous?
Modern cars have crumple zones that absorb the energy of the crash by destroying themselves. For the other car to reach you, they have to have enough power to force past this safety feature. In a T-bone accident, there is no crumple protection. Sides of vehicles only offer the door and sometimes a side airbag.
Modern cars keep their drivers safe as much as possible, but they can’t do it from all directions. This is why T-bone car accidents are so dangerous.
Proving Fault in T-Bone Car Accidents
It’s important to figure out who was at fault because they will cover the damages of the accident by law. Here are some factors the courts will look at for proving negligence and liability:
Who Had the Right-of-Way?
It’s still possible to get in a T-bone accident if both cars have the right-of-way. But if someone violates the rules of the road, then the blame will tilt in their direction. Right-of-way rules keep vehicle movements predictable.
If you get hit at an intersection, do your best to figure out the exact time of the accident. While it’s not foolproof, a car accident lawyer can determine the light cycle state when you crashed and can and compare it to the light’s programming. This can prove right-of-way violations.
Was Another Road Rule Broken?
Even if you had the right-of-way, or if both of you did, violating other road rules will put more fault on whoever broke them. Common broken rules in T-bone accidents include:
- Distracted driving
- Reckless driving (like crossing lanes in an intersection)
Another cause can be a defect in the vehicle. Maybe a light burned out and you couldn’t tell they were turning. Maybe the brakes failed and there was no way to stop. When there’s a question of a vehicle defect in a crash, there are several ways fault could be assigned:
- The driver didn’t maintain their vehicle
- The mechanic did not do their job right
- The part manufacturer sold a faulty part
- The vehicle manufacturer sold a car with a defect
Your personal injury lawyer would have to investigate which of these makes the most sense to find out who is most at fault for your T-bone car accident.
Traffic Light Defects
The odds are very small, but it is sometimes possible that the traffic lights were the problem. If there was an error in the programming, two cars could think they had the right-of-way and collide. Studying the time of the crash and testing the light programming of traffic safety systems will see if this may have happened.
Remember California’s Fault Laws in Auto Accidents
Remember that California is a comparative fault state. This means that if you were partially to blame for your T-bone car accident, then you may have your compensation reduced by a percentage. A car accident lawyer can estimate this percentage and tell you if it’s worth pursuing litigation.