Side-impact car accidents—also referred to as T-bone accidents—are a dangerous type of collision that occurs when one vehicle hits the side of another. Unlike rear-end or head-on collisions, passengers have little protection from the vehicle door and window against the force of the crash. They can suffer debilitating injuries or death as a result.

Damaged car after T-bone accidentIf you or a family member was injured in a T-bone accident, your first two actions are the most important: 1) seek prompt medical care and 2) enlist the assistance of an experienced San Diego car accident attorney.

Major Causes of T-Bone Accidents

These accidents frequently occur at intersections. While there are other factors that cause a side-impact crash, in the majority of cases, one driver violated California traffic laws. These include:

  • Speeding. Even if someone is traveling at a reasonable 40 mph, that could be 10 mph over the speed limit in a residential neighborhood. To slow down, this requires a driver to have nearly 120 ft. of thinking and braking time—not enough to stop a crash if he or she is speeding through a stop sign or traffic signal.
  • Running a red light. Another common scenario that results in a T-bone collision is when a motorist runs a red light. The injuries can be even more serious because of the greater force of impact if the driver was also speeding.
  • Failure to yield. Yielding the right of way is a basic California traffic law that a negligent driver disobeyed in a side-impact wreck. This includes not yielding to oncoming traffic when making a right or left turn, not stopping at a stop sign, or not following the rules of proceeding at a four-way stop.
  • Distracted driving. If a driver is distracted by his cellphone, eating and drinking, or engaging in other behaviors that take attention from the road, he's less likely to realize he's about to cause a side-impact collision. At 40 mph, he'll travel about 40 ft. just to realize there's a problem and decide to brake—this doesn't include the actual braking distance described above.
  • Intoxication. Vision, reaction time, and judgment are all impaired while someone is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Reckless driving behaviors are common, too, such as speeding, swift lane changes, traveling the wrong way, running a red light, or misjudging safe turns at stoplights.

Liability Can Be Complicated in a Side-Impact Accident

It's difficult to determine which driver was negligent in causing a T-bone collision. In some cases, both are partially at fault. For example, if a driver fails to stop and rolls through a four-way intersection completely, he may be negligent in failing to yield the right of way. However, the driver of the vehicle who was hit could also be to blame if he was texting and didn't try to stop as a result.

If you were injured in one of these crashes, our experienced auto accident lawyer will examine the evidence, such as the damage to the vehicles, pictures, police report, and witness statements, to conclude the cause of your accident. Then, we'll pursue proper financial recovery for your injuries.


Mark Blane
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San Diego Personal Injury Lawyer | California Car Accident Attorney
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