Recovering After a Devastating T-Bone Accident: Your Legal Rights and Options

Scott Blumenshine

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April 6, 2024

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A T-bone car accident, sometimes called a broadside collision, is a specific type of vehicle crash in which the front end of one vehicle violently strikes the side of another vehicle. The vehicles collide perpendicular, creating a “T” shape—hence the name. 

T-bone accidents often occur at intersections when one vehicle fails to stop at a red light or stop sign and enters the intersection, crashing into a vehicle traveling through the intersection with the right-of-way. The lack of protection along the side of vehicles means T-bone collisions can cause severe injuries to occupants in the struck vehicle. The impact force may push the struck vehicle sideways, potentially causing it to roll over or spin out. T-bone accidents are especially dangerous because the occupant of the struck vehicle has little time to react before impact. Avoiding red light running and distracted driving can help reduce the chance of these violent broadside collisions.

Causes of T-bone Accidents

  • Running red lights or stop signs
  • Distracted driving (texting, eating, etc.) 
  • Driving under the influence
  • Failure to yield the right of way
  • Speeding through intersections
  • Poor weather conditions like rain or snow reduce visibility/traction

Consequences of T-bone Accidents

  • Vehicle damage—T-bone collisions generally lead to extensive vehicle damage due to the lateral impact forces involved. Given the lack of side structural protection, the struck vehicle commonly sustains major intrusion into the passenger compartment. It is typical for both vehicles involved to require towing from the scene and to be declared total losses after this type of collision.
  • Injuries – Occupants of vehicles struck in T-bone crashes often suffer multiple severe injuries as a result of the abrupt, high-force impact. Orthopedic fractures are prevalent, given the potential for extremities to strike vehicle interiors and become trapped in collapsing components violently. Head and brain trauma, including concussions, hemorrhages, and swelling, frequently occur due to rapid acceleration/deceleration. Spinal cord lacerations or misalignments can lead to partial or complete paralysis. Blunt force injury to internal organs is also a common outcome.
  • Fatalities – T-bone accidents have among the highest mortality rates, largely attributable to the minimal side impact protection engineered into most vehicles. Unbelted occupants are at particular risk of partial or complete ejection outside windows, which often proves fatal. The proximity of occupants to the side impact site also contributes to more critical injuries and fatalities. Only head-on collisions typically exceed T-bone crashes in occupant fatality rates. However, rapid emergency response can help reduce T-bone fatalities. 

Liability Issues 

Regarding serious auto accident scenarios, T-bone crashes rank at the top. These devastating broadside collisions happen when one vehicle plows into the side of another at intersections. Figuring out who’s liable for these wrecks can get tricky – if a driver blew a stop sign, they may be responsible, but sometimes fault gets shared between drivers based on circumstances. Vehicle defects or other factors could also make manufacturers or local governments culpable. With so much complexity, T-bone victims must get experienced car accident injury lawyers immediately. Time limits apply on claims, so swift action is key after these truly frightening crashes. Experienced accident lawyers know how to conduct thorough probes to prove liability and fight for maximum compensation so affected individuals and families can move forward. 

Here are some of the potential liability issues:

  • Right-of-way – A key factor in determining liability is which driver had the right-of-way, which establishes negligence. If it is clear one driver ran a red light or stop sign, that driver is typically deemed fully or majority liable for any resulting injuries or damages. Failure to yield right-of-way is a primary cause of T-bone crashes.
  • Shared fault – Liability may be split between drivers if it is not definitively established who had the right-of-way. Contributory negligence factors like speeding, distraction, or impairment can impact shared fault. The jurisdiction’s comparative negligence rules will dictate how damages are apportioned based on the degree of fault.
  • Multiple parties – While individual drivers are the main liable parties, others may share liability depending on the circumstances. For example, government entities can share liability if poor road design, traffic signaling, or maintenance contributed to the crash. Product liability may also come into play if vehicle defects exacerbate injuries. Bars or restaurants can share liability if an impaired driver comes from their establishment and is deemed under the influence.
  • Insurance disputes – T-bone cases often become disputes with insurance companies over liability apportionment and appropriate compensation. Experienced personal injury lawyers can advocate for victims to ensure fair outcomes. Litigation may be necessary if settlement negotiations reach an impasse.
  • Statute of limitations – Time limits exist for injury claims, so it is critical to promptly consult an attorney who can evaluate liability and preserve the right to recovery. In Illinois, the statute is generally 2 years for personal injuries. 

Compensation Available  

No money can compensate for the immense harm caused by T-bone wrecks. However, knowing your legal options to recover damages is important for injured victims and grieving families. An experienced car accident lawyer can help you understand what economic losses like medical bills and lost wages can be recouped and how to quantify painful impacts on life quality. In cases of gross negligence, punitive damages may also be pursued. A wrongful death suit may be warranted for families who lost a loved one. Our legal team can advise you on maximizing compensation through settlements or litigation. Rest assured, we will handle your case compassionately while fiercely advocating for you to obtain the fair recovery you deserve after this tragedy. 

Recovering compensation after a T-bone accident can seem daunting, but our legal team is here to help guide you. We will pursue full and fair damages so you can focus on healing: 

  • Medical expenses, lost income, vehicle replacement costs – We’ll seek economic damages to cover quantifiable accident-related costs.
  • Pain and suffering, diminished quality of life – We’ll also pursue harder to quantify non-economic damages for the emotional toll of this trauma.
  • Punitive damages – If egregious negligence caused the wreck, we can advocate for extra damages as punishment.
  • Wrongful death – We’ll fight for compensation through a suit for grieving families who lost a loved one.

The legal process is complex, but we will handle all aspects of your case with compassionate expertise. We want you to know that our goal is to maximize your rightful recovery through knowledgeable negotiation or litigation. We vow to work relentlessly on your behalf because you deserve justice.  

How We Can Help After This Hardship

Please accept our sympathy if you or someone you love has been harmed in a T-bone crash. We cannot imagine the physical anguish, emotional trauma, and devastating losses you face, but please know you don’t have to shoulder this alone. For over 35 years, our Chicago law firm has advocated for collision victims like you. Our caring attorneys will thoroughly investigate to build your strongest possible case for recovery. We will handle the legal complexities while you focus on healing. If insurers are uncooperative, we are ready to go to court to fight for the justice and compensation you deserve. 

The road ahead will have challenges. But our extensive experience with T-bone cases gives us confidence you and your family can move forward. We will leverage our expertise to construct an airtight claim for damages. Though it will take time, we will tenaciously pursue the maximum remedy the law provides. Let our seasoned team handle the legal details so you can direct energy toward recovery. We’ve helped many through this and are prepared to do the same for you. Please call or text us to explore your options in an initial consultation at(312)766-1000 or email [email protected].

Rest assured, we are ready to stand by you and do everything possible to secure what is rightfully owed to you. You are not alone in this fight.

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