Any car accident results in damages and injuries, but side-impact collisions have been known to be responsible for some of the most severe injuries suffered. Side impact collisions are also referred to as T-bone crashes. These accidents happen when a car hits another on the side as opposed to rear-end or front-end collisions. Most of these accidents are out of the negligence of the driver or reckless driving. When a driver runs a red light and crashes into a car, that's negligence. The injuries a person suffers can be life-altering or very damaging. The law in California, however, allows individuals involved in such collisions to seek compensation for the damages suffered. Speaking to a lawyer after you have been involved in such an accident is essential. Get in touch with The LA Personal Injury Law Firm in Los Angeles, who will help you in pursuing your claim for damages suffered.
Understanding Side Impact Accidents and How They Happen
As earlier stated, side-impact collisions are commonly referred to as T-bone collisions. They happen where a vehicle's front impacts directly on the side of another car. This forms the shape of a T, and that is where the name is derived from.
Most of these accidents occur at intersections or parking lots where cars are usually moving perpendicularly to each other. One of the main causes of t-bone accidents is the failure of a motorist to give way or when they fail to stop at a light.
A car can also get out of control and swerve until it crashes on another. This is also another form of a side-impact collision. The damages suffered as a result of these accidents can be significant. Fortunately, one can get compensation for damages as long as the parties involved have an auto insurance cover.
Causes of T-bone Accidents
Just like in other kinds of accidents, there are multiple causes for side-impact crashes. Some of these include:
- Speeding – some drivers will drive at high speeds that may make it challenging to control their vehicle when they face an emergency on the road. When one is operating at high speed, and another vehicle suddenly appears at the intersection, it may be difficult to stop their car. As a result, one ends up crashing into the other vehicle on the side.
- Running a red light – traffic lights are there to guide both vehicle and pedestrian movements on the road. When one fails to obey the red light, they can crash into another car with the right of way.
- Distracted driving – a motorist could be multitasking as they drive. This will cause them to get distracted and forget to focus on the road. At the time they notice another car had entered the road, it is often too late, and they end up crashing on their side.
- Failure to give way – traffic lights do not control some intersections. However, the state of California expects every driver to practice due care on the roads. Sometimes a driver will feel they have the right of way and fail to give way to another driver who had already driven into the intersection. As a result, a T-bone crash occurs.
- Aggressive or reckless driving – many drivers can be careless in how they drive and relate with other motorists. They may feel they are in control of their driving, yet that is not always the case. Recklessness has been a significant contributor to t-bone accidents in California.
- Weather Conditions – sometimes, during bad weather, a driver may not be able to see very well, or the roads can be slippery. Poor visibility has been a cause of many accidents, including side-impact collisions.
Common Injuries from Side Impact Collisions
Side impacts can be a reason for some of the most devastating injuries suffered in accidents. There are various injuries a victim of an accident can suffer from. Some of these include:
- Back and Neck injuries – this may consist of a displaced disc, injuries to the spinal cord, sprains on the back, and neck. The injuries from these vital body parts may lead to paralysis and a lifetime of dependence on others for help. Medical care and rehabilitation may also be very costly if one suffers from such injuries. This makes it essential to have a personal injury lawyer help you pursue your claim for compensation for the financial damages you suffer seeking treatment.
- Brain and head traumas – these are some of the most severe injuries a person can suffer from and often lead to fatalities. Some of these injuries can also lead to the victim being unable to earn a living. This happens when their ability to work has been taken away due to the injuries. Fortunately, when this happens, one can seek compensation for the lost earning capacity.
- Broken bones – t-bone collisions often result in broken or fractured bones. A victim can have one or multiple fractures following this accident.
- Lost limbs – sometimes, victims of these accidents can suffer severe damages to their limb that it may end up being cut off. This can be devastating, both physically and psychologically, for the victim.
- Soft tissue injuries – these are injuries that happen when the victim’s tendons, ligaments, or muscles are torn in the accident. The injuries can be excruciating, and some may need extended treatment.
- Disfigurement – following the impact of an accident, a motorist or other vehicle occupants can get their faces disfigured to a point they will require reconstruction surgery. An impact can also result in one losing their teeth, demanding them to visit a dentist and get their teeth replaced.
The Theory of Comparative Fault
California is a comparative fault state. This means that before one is compensated damages, there must be a determination of who is responsible for the accident. The party found liable or accountable for an accident is usually the one that bears the burden of compensation.
When the police come to the scene of an accident, they take pictures and interview the witnesses. The victims are also interviewed where possible. For this reason, you must have a personal injury attorney to help you through the process and take care of your interests. Your lawyer will advise you never to admit fault in an accident or apologize for it. Sometimes you do not know the cause of the accident or what the other motorist was doing before the accident.
During the investigation on the cause of the accident, you will be surprised to learn that the other party is also responsible for the crash. This means reasons that may seem obvious are not always what causes an accident. However, your lawyer through accident reconstruction experts will be able to come up with the actual cause of the accident and the party responsible.
Proving your Claim
Sometimes following a road accident, you may have an idea of the person responsible for it. It may seem clear the other motorist was responsible for the crash, but there must be evidence to support your claim. Before getting compensation from the driver’s insurance provider, you must show that they were responsible for the crash. With the help of your lawyer, you need to show the following:
- Duty of care – this is the legal obligation of every driver in California to ensure they exercise due care on the roads to safeguard themselves and others from accidents or danger. You must show how the other driver failed in his or her duty of care.
- Negligence – this is often the cause of many t-bone collisions. When a driver acts irresponsibly and fails to drive reasonably, they will be said to have been negligent. In seeking a claim, whether from the insurance provider or the court, your lawyer must demonstrate this negligence.
- Liability – when a person is found to be responsible for an accident, they are usually referred to as the at-fault driver. Your lawyer must demonstrate that the other driver was the one at fault and should take responsibility for the damages suffered. No insurance company will pay for damages if they believe their client was not responsible for the accident. This makes it essential for your lawyer to gather all the necessary evidence that will help in demonstrating liability.
- Damages – when seeking compensation, you must show proof of the damages you claim to have suffered. This may include damage to your car, medical expenses, lost wages, and consortium claims, among others. You cannot make a list of claims and expect the insurance company to compensate them. All the claims for the damages suffered must be accompanied by evidence to avoid being charged with insurance fraud.
In proving negligence from the other driver, your lawyer must show:
- The alleged at-fault driver had the legal duty to drive with care or safely
- The suspected at-fault driver breached this duty of careful driving
- The alleged breach of the duty of care is the reason and cause of the injuries and damages.
When your lawyer can prove all of the above, then the other driver is held liable for the damages suffered. This means that their insurance provider will be required to award you for the damages claimed.
When You are Blamed for the Collision
Even as you believe the other motorist was responsible for the accident, they will also not rightly accept responsibility but will try and blame it on you. In most cases, a negligent driver that ignores a stop sign or red light is often the cause of the crash. However, the driver’s insurance may blame you for the accident by raising similar claims as those you raised.
Insurance companies will try to come up with reasons why you do not deserve the damages you are asking. There are multiple excuses they can raise so as to deny the claim or reduce your compensation. They may claim you did not have your headlights on, so the other driver did not see you, or the weather was the cause of the crash.
Whatever the reason, they must also prove it just as you must verify their driver was responsible. This makes it even more important to have a personal injury lawyer represent you during these discussions.
If they are able to prove your part in the accident, do not panic. Fortunately, California is a comparative fault state, which means that you will still get compensated for damages even when you are partly to blame.
Evidence that is Crucial in Your Claim Case
As earlier stated, you cannot expect to get compensated because you present a claim. The insurance company must be convinced that you deserve the damages sought, so does the jury should the case go to court. With the help of your lawyer, you must be able to provide convincing evidence of the accident and the responsibility of the other motorist. Some of the most critical pieces of evidence you can present include:
Police Report – when the police arrive at an accident scene, one of their tasks is to come up with an accident report. The police will take multiple pictures of the scene and, with forensic experts, analyze the scene and the damage.
The police will come up with a diagram that shows the scene as well as interviewing any eyewitnesses. If the victims suffered any injuries, information on the same is shared by the doctors. This is important in helping the police with their report.
This report is crucial to both the insurance company and your lawyer. Information about the witnesses to the accident is also made available in case your lawyer may want to interview them further. As your lawyer is facing the insurance adjuster, he or she must be familiar with the police report, and if there are any questions, clarification is sought before.
Pictures – when the accident happens, the victims are encouraged to take photos and videos if they can. Sometimes, eyewitnesses also take videos of the scene as well as pictures and would be willing to share them with your lawyer. Photographs and videos provide compelling evidence of the accident and make it easier to establish the at-fault driver.
If you can take photos, ensure you capture various angles, the surroundings, any traffic signs and lights available, and, of course, of the vehicles involved. If you have suffered injuries or other victims, have, take photos of the injuries, and ensure you share all these images with your lawyer.
If taking videos, ensure they have sound. This is important, especially if the other driver admits fault. Intoxication has been known as a significant cause of accidents. A video, in this case, can show if the other driver was impaired and also capture his speech. The photos can also show other items that can strengthen your case, such as beer bottles in the car or paraphernalia used for drugs.
Even if you have not taken any photos or videos, there is no need to panic. The police will always take them as part of their investigation. The law allows the police to share any evidence gathered with your lawyer to help with your case.
Witness Statement – having a written witness statement is very crucial in supporting your claim. A witness can testify to what they saw before the accident occurred, such as witnessing a driver disregard a red light or claim to be the cause of the accident. When the police record witness statements, they ensure they are signed, and the witness is willing to testify to the same if called.
If you can talk to the witness yourself, it would be helpful. Gather their contact details and let them write down what they saw. If there are no writing materials present and you have a phone that can record them, take a video of them making the statement.
Medical Reports – one of the claims a victim of an accident is permitted to seek for is medical expenses. You cannot write down the injuries you suffered and expect the insurance company to compensate you for them. If you have any medical claims, they must be credible.
A doctor that treated you for the injuries should be able to issue a detailed written statement of the injuries suffered, all treatment procedures done, and the prescribed drugs. If upon examining you, the doctor discovers that you will need more treatment in the future and what their costs will be; this is also included. A comprehensive report by your doctor is crucial for you to get your claim approved.
Additionally, if you can include photos of your injuries and your time in the hospital as well as your pictures before the accident, it may be helpful. This is important in showing yourself before the accident and after the injuries.
Letter from Employer – the law allows a victim of an accident to seek compensation for the income they lost while recuperating from the injuries. However, you cannot lie about your income and expect the insurance company to pay you. You must get a letter from your employer stating that you work for them and how long you have been working there, including your position. The letter should also include the amount you earn as well as how many days you missed work.
These are some of the crucial pieces of evidence you require to substantiate your claim, among others that you can have. If the insurance provider, after receiving all the evidence above declines to pay damages or offers to pay below what you rightfully deserve, your lawyer can raise a lawsuit petitioning them to pay.
At the court, the jury will listen to both sides and evaluate all the evidence brought before the court. The court will then decide who is to blame for the accident and the amount of damages to award. If the fault for the accident is found to be shared, the jury will allocate damages according to the percentage of the shared responsibility.
Damages You Can Claim
When an accident happens irrespective of who was at fault, you are entitled to damages. In California, an accident victim is entitled to economic and non-economic damages. Below, we will discuss the various damages your lawyer can pursue on your behalf.
These are quantifiable damages after an accident. With these kinds of damages, you can easily place a monetary value on them and should be supported by evidence. Some of the damages include:
- Medical Expenses – the injuries you suffer in an accident will require you to be treated. The law allows you to seek compensation for medical costs and any related costs. Your doctor should evaluate the damages with the help of other experts if needed. A cost for your current treatment and future treatment, if required, must accompany your claim.
- Property damages – in an accident, the property in question is usually the vehicle. Your auto shop should give a detailed invoice on the cost of repairs for your car because of the damages suffered.
- Lost income – during the time of recuperation, the victim may miss work and, as a result, lose their income. The law allows a victim to be compensated for the same.
- Lost ability to earn – some accidents can be so damaging such that the victim is rendered unable to work again for the rest of their life. When this happens, the victim can seek compensation for the income they would have earned if they did not suffer the injuries.
- Funeral and Burial expenses – if as a result of the accident, you lost a loved one, the surviving family can seek compensation for the costs incurred preparing for the funeral and burial of the victim.
These are the damages that cannot be quantified, but the jury can decide how much to award you in damages based on the injuries suffered. Some of the non-economic damages you may seek to include:
- Pain and suffering – injuries will cause you distress, pain, and inconvenience. These are damages according to the law, that is payable.
- Lost companionship – if you lost a loved one in an accident, you can get compensation for the love you have lost and companionship.
- Wrongful death – some accidents lead to fatalities. If a loved one dies in an accident, the family can seek compensation for their life.
Find a Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me
Damages from an accident can be challenging financially to the victim and their family. Although property damages can be compensated with money, the suffering that a victim undergoes may not be possible to pay with money. However, it is important to seek compensation for the injuries and damages sustained to help ease your financial burden. Speaking to a lawyer will help you get your rightful compensation where you would have otherwise been taken advantage of. The LA Personal Injury Law Firm will help you pursue your claim and assist with any legal advice necessary. Call us at 310-935-0089 if you have been injured in Los Angeles, and let us ensure you receive your claim quickly.