All vehicle accidents can be scary, but T-bone accidents can be especially devastating given the lack of time to brace for impact and the angle at which the vehicles collide. A T-bone accident occurs when the front of one vehicle strikes the side of another, forming the shape of a “T” at the point of impact. These often occur in intersections but can also occur during other driving maneuvers. If you have been impacted in a collision, determining who is at fault for a T-bone accident could make a difference in your ability to recover damages.
How T-Bone Collision Injuries Occur
T-bone vehicle accidents often occur in intersections when one vehicle is turning and the other vehicle is going straight. According to traffic laws, only one of the vehicles actually has the right-of-way, meaning that they should be the one moving rather than waiting for their turn. Either party could be at fault for the T-bone collision. Eyewitnesses are important for helping to determine fault. The drivers involved often each believe that they had the right-of-way.
There are some common driving maneuvers that cause T-bone accidents to occur.
Turning left is dangerous in a lot of situations. Blind spots, misjudging speed and timing, miscommunication with other drivers, and failing to see other drivers can all result in T-bone accidents from left-hand turns.
Running a Red Light
Almost everyone has had that moment where they must choose whether to stop at the yellow light or to speed though. Guessing wrong can cause a driver to run a red light, which means traffic will likely be coming at a perpendicular angle, causing impact to the side of the vehicle.
Failing to Stop at a Stop Sign
Stop signs exist for obvious reasons, and when this traffic law is not obeyed, especially at a four-way stop, side collisions can occur.
Parking Lot Exit
Intersections are not always to blame. Pulling out of a parking lot without checking for vehicles in all directions can cause a T-bone collision, especially when turning left out of the parking lot.
Making a U-turn is legal in a lot of situations. The driver making the turn has the responsibility of determining whether the maneuver is safe and legal and if there are any other vehicles that could be impacted by the turn.
Shared Fault of the Driver with the Right-of-Way
Though the vehicle that did not have the right-of-way probably has the highest degree of fault, the vehicle with the right-of-way could also be partially responsible. Situations where a driver with the right-of-way may have some fault in a T-bone accident include:
- When they were driving distracted (texting, changing the radio, etc.);
- When the driver was exceeding the speed limit;
- When the driver was operating the vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
- When the driver failed to turn on headlights at night or when reasonably dark;
- When brake failure occurred due to improper maintenance; or
- When the driver suddenly crossed multiple lanes of traffic immediately before the impact.
Both vehicles have a duty to drive attentively and anticipate potential danger.
There are some situations where a third party can be found at fault for a T-bone accident. If one of the vehicles had a malfunction due to a manufacturing defect, for example, the vehicle manufacturer or part manufacturer could be found at fault. Improperly maintained traffic control systems, such as stop lights that fail to work or stop signs that have fallen and not been replaced, are the fault of the agency responsible for ensuring traffic safety in the specific area.
Why Determining Who Is at Fault for a T-bone Accident Is Important
Kentucky is one of 12 no-fault states. No-fault for auto accidents means that both parties have to file a claim for damages with their own insurance company first. Drivers must hold personal injury protection (PIP) insurance, under this law. However, there are situations that allow for parties to file a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent driver. If the accident results in at least $1,000 in medical bills or caused disfigurement, a significant bone fracture, permanent injury, or permanent loss of a body function, the victim can file a lawsuit.
PIP Insurance Opt Out
A Kentucky driver does have the option of filing a no-fault rejection form with the Kentucky Department of Insurance to op out of the state’s no-fault insurance program, which means that they do not have to purchase PIP coverage. By opting out, the policyholder also opens themself up to the risk of being sued if found at fault for the crash.
Determining who is at fault for a T-bone accident becomes especially important when there is a lawsuit.
Pure Comparative Fault
Partial responsibility matters. According to Kentucky Revised Statutes section 411.182, Kentucky is a “pure comparative fault” state. This means that the amount of damages you can recover in a T-bone collision injury lawsuit is reduced by the same percentage as your level of fault in causing the accident. Determining who is at fault for a T-bone accident could be difficult, and it is important to refrain from making any statements to insurance companies or law enforcement that could imply fault. Even if you are not at fault, your words can be misconstrued.
What to Do If You Are in a T-Bone Vehicle Collision
If you suffer injury in a T-Bone collision, seek experienced legal counsel from a Kentucky injury attorney. Your lawyer can help determine who is at fault for your T-bone accident through an independent investigation. Before you even consider accepting a settlement offer, you need to understand what your claim is worth and what you deserve to receive.
The circumstance of your accident and the extent of your injuries will be large determining factors regarding the compensation you receive. The skill and experience of your injury legal practitioner may also impact your case. Economic damages cover medical expenses, lost wages, and other financial losses. Non-economic damages cover pain and suffering, mental anguish, PTSD, and other mental and emotional damages.
Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC provides personalized, attentive, and experienced representation focused on maximizing our clients’ financial recoveries for vehicle accidents and other personal injury needs. Contact us to schedule your free case consultation.