A side impact accident in which one vehicle gets broadsided by another, also known as a T-bone accident, is one of the most dangerous and devastating type of motor vehicle accidents. Technological advancements have led to many new vehicle safety features such as blind spot warning and automatic braking systems, but most of these systems are designed for head-on or rear-end accidents. This leaves vehicle occupants relatively unprotected in the event of a side impact car crash. Even when the accident occurs at slow speeds, the occupants are often left with serious injuries. Understanding the causes of side impact accidents can help you avoid them and stay safe.
Common Causes of Side Impact Accidents
Most side impact accidents occur as the result of driver error, including the following:
- Running a red light. In this scenario, a driver enters the intersection out of turn and broadsides the vehicle that is legally crossing the road. Drivers running a red light are usually traveling at high speeds. The impact could be hard enough to move the struck car into another lane, cause it to roll over, or hit another vehicle or an object such as a lamp post.
- Distracted driving. Modern vehicles are loaded with plenty of distracting technology, from navigation systems to entertainment for the whole family including DVD players. However, drivers are just as distracted by their passengers, eating and drinking, and of course the ever-present cell phone for calls and texting. Distracted driving is a serious problem on American roads and a leading cause of accidents.
- Failure to yield the right of way. This can happen when a driver is unfamiliar with local roads and tries to turn left across oncoming traffic or tries to merge and join the flow of traffic without correctly yielding the right of way.
- Speeding. Driving above the speed limit or too fast for road conditions leaves no room for error or emergency maneuvers. There is no way for a driver to avoid a side impact collision if someone turns in front of the vehicle and it is going too fast.
- Adverse weather conditions. Snow, ice, rain, and fog can all create road conditions that can cause a car to slip or slide and broadside another vehicle.
Side impact collisions can also happen because of drunk driving, drugged driving, aggressive driving, and illegal passing.
What Are Some Common Injuries from Side Impact Collisions?
The side of a vehicle does not have a protective bumper that absorbs the impact of a crash like the front and rear do. There are only the vehicle doors and sometimes side air bags. When a vehicle is broadsided, the occupants on the side where the car gets hit will suffer the most severe injuries, such as:
- Head injuries including traumatic brain injury
- Neck injuries including whiplash
- Back injuries including ruptured disks, spinal cord damage, and paralysis
- Internal organ damage and internal bleeding
- Broken bones
- Cuts and lacerations
Of course, the severity of any collision is related to the size of the vehicles involved and the speed at which they were traveling at the time of impact. Heavier vehicles are better able to withstand an accident, and a study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that drivers of vehicles with a Good side impact protection rating are 70 percent less likely to die in a left side impact collision compared with someone driving a vehicle with a rating of Poor.
What Should I Do after a Side Impact Collision?
If you are involved in a side impact collision, the procedure is much the same as for any other type of car accident. Check everyone in both vehicles for injuries and call for emergency medical help if necessary. Call the police to the scene of the accident to investigate and produce an official report. Exchange contact information with the other driver and any bystanders who witnessed the accident. If you can, take pictures of the accident scene and the damage to the vehicles. See a medical professional right away even if you think your injuries are minor. This creates a medical document related to the accident.
Can I Be Compensated for Injuries from a Side Impact Collision?
Victims of side impact collisions often have significant medical bills from their injuries, serious property damage, and lasting physical and emotional effects from the experience. If the accident that resulted in your injuries was caused by the negligence of another driver, you may be able to make a claim for compensation for your medical costs, vehicle repair, loss of income, and pain and suffering. Families of victims who die of their injuries can file a claim for wrongful death. If any kind of equipment malfunction was an issue in the accident such as brake failure, defective airbags, or a seat belt that broke on impact, it may be possible to file a third-party claim against the manufacturer of the defective equipment.
In many cases, the other driver or their insurance company will attempt to shift some of the blame for the accident to you. The state of Illinois uses a concept called modified comparative negligence, which means if you were partly responsible for what happened, it reduces the amount of compensation you can receive. In Illinois, you must be less than 51 percent responsible for the accident, or you cannot receive any compensation. The amount you receive is then reduced according to the percentage of fault assigned to you. For instance, if your compensation award is $100,000 but you are found to be 20 percent responsible, you will receive $100,000 minus 20 percent, or $80,000.
You may want to consult with an experienced accident lawyer to determine your best legal options for compensation. Many people worry about the cost of hiring a lawyer, but most lawyers provide free consultations to discuss the circumstances of your case and then work on a contingency basis. You get charged only if your case is successful and compensation is recovered, so there is no upfront payment required.
St. Clair County Car Crash Lawyers at The Cates Law Firm, LLC Help Clients in Side Impact Accidents
The St. Clair County car crash lawyers at The Cates Law Firm, LLC know how life changing a side impact car crash can be. Our experienced legal team is available to help you by investigating the circumstances of the accident and then fighting to ensure the best possible outcome for your case. Call us today at 618-277-3644 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Swansea, Illinois, we serve clients in St. Louis, Belleville, East St. Louis, Edwardsville, Granite City, Waterloo, Chester, Carbondale, St. Clair County, Madison County, Monroe County, Randolph County, and other regions throughout Southern Illinois.