Physical injuries are always possible when two vehicles collide. But when one vehicle strikes another at a right angle, the occupants of the vehicle getting hit are particularly vulnerable. T-bone accidents, as they are called, kill innocent motorists every year in Orange County. Negligent driving is usually to blame.

Side-impacts are a worst-case scenario. Unlike a vehicle’s front and rear, its sides are not designed to crumple and absorb the force of a crash. Safety features like seatbelts, headrests, and child car seats are also less effective in a side impact, and older vehicles may have airbags only in the front. Uncertainty regarding the cause of these accidents is another problem. In a front or rear collision, drivers often see the other vehicle approaching just prior to impact, giving them an indication of what went wrong. By contrast, drivers blindsided by a side impact may have no idea what happened.

Neale & Fhima’s Southern California personal injury lawyers have decades of experience representing T-bone accident victims. We can answer any questions you have following a side collision, and we can make sure your right to compensation is secure. Contact our office now for more information.

Driving Mistakes that Cause T-Bone Accidents

T-bone accidents can occur anywhere cross-traffic is present. A driver could get hit backing out of a driveway or turning left onto a main thoroughfare. Of course, of all the places where vehicles approach each other at right angles, intersections are by far the most common. This chart shows how frequently drivers make the kinds of mistakes that lead to side-impact accidents at intersections:

Injury Accidents Per Year (By Primary Collision Factor)

County Failure to yield Improper turn Disregard of signs/signals
Los Angeles 12,676 6,638 5,283
San Diego 1,897 2,583 1,217
Orange 2,613 1,799 1,643
Riverside 1,364 1,763 923
San Bernardino 1,608 1,815 964

Source: California Highway Patrol (CHP), Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS), calendar year 2016.

How to Prove the Other Driver was at Fault

Liability is not always in dispute following a traffic accident. The fact that the other driver was at fault may be abundantly clear to everyone involved. If so, our attorneys can obtain an admission of liability from the insurance company and then turn their efforts to the medical side of the case. On the other hand, the other driver may claim to have done nothing wrong, or even allege that the victim was at fault. This is when identifying helpful evidence and preserving it properly become crucial.

Evidence of fault in side-impact collisions can include:

  • Statements from witnesses. An accident in the middle of a busy intersection may have been viewed by a dozen or more onlookers. Anyone who witnessed the accident, regardless of age or relationship to the injury victim, may be able to provide useful testimonial evidence.
  • Admissions by the other driver. Statements made by the other driver immediately after the accident are persuasive evidence for two reasons: 1) people tend to tell the truth while under the stress of a traumatic event; and 2) people tend not to admit things that are harmful to their interests unless they are true.
  • The police report. Law enforcement usually (but not always) does an excellent job documenting the events surrounding an accident. If the accident report states that the other driver was at fault, that alone may put the matter to rest. That said, if the report states that you were at fault, an investigation by our law firm may reveal that the report is inaccurate.
  • Contemporaneous photo or video evidence. Because most T-bone accidents take place in intersections, a visual recording of the accident may exist. Pictures from red-light cameras and videos from business surveillance systems can be the key to proving liability.
  • Damage to the vehicles. Photos of the vehicles at the accident scene can be invaluable in a personal injury case. Not only can they establish that the other driver was at fault, but viewing the photos can make an emotional impression on a jury.
  • Skid marks, debris, and damage to nearby objects. Small details can make a big difference when the other party is contesting liability. For example, the absence of skid marks suggests that the driver who T-boned the victim was not looking where he or she was going. More than likely, the driver was texting on a smartphone at the time of the accident or engaging in some other distracting activity.

The Vehicle You Drive Can Make a Difference

All vehicles are susceptible to side-impacts, but some do a better job than others at protecting occupants from harm. Here are three vehicles to avoid driving if you are concerned about getting hurt in a T-bone crash:

  1. Low vehicles – Vehicles that are low to the ground put occupants at increased risk during a side impact, because the front of the other vehicle will strike higher on the side panel, closer to the occupants’ head and neck areas.
  2. Convertibles – Orange County’s weather is great for putting the top down, but convertibles are not equipped with side curtain airbags (which deploy from the top of the door frame on other vehicles).
  3. Motorcycles – When a motorcycle gets hit broadside, injuries are a certainty. The front end of the other vehicle is likely to strike the rider directly in the torso or upper leg. The ensuing fall may cause the rider to suffer additional injuries.

Choosing to own a vehicle that offers better protection against side impacts is prudent. However, the type of vehicle you drive will never hinder your ability to collect full compensation following an accident that was not your fault.

Southern California T-Bone Crash Attorneys

Side-impact collisions lead to severe injuries like traumatic brain injury (TBI) and spinal cord damage. In extreme cases, victims may be killed, either immediately upon impact or later in the hospital. As a victim or surviving family member, you have only one opportunity to obtain compensation from the responsible party. The settlement agreement must address all your losses – including difficult-to-calculate damages like pain and suffering, future medical bills, and lost earning capacity. This is not the time to gamble with your financial future by hiring an unproven law firm.

Neale & Fhima has a 35-year track record of success helping accident victims in Orange County and across Southern California. For a confidential, no-cost evaluation of your claim, call (949) 661-1007 or tell us about your case now.