T-bone accidents cause great pain to most victims. Property damage, injuries, and fatalities are the consequences that may be experienced after a T-bone accident. As a victim recovering the cost of seeking medical treatment after a crash can be challenging. You need good legal representation to access compensation for your injuries and suffering. The LA Personal Injury Law Firm has a team of experienced and dedicated lawyers with legal expertise and a proven track record in handling T-bone accidents to ensure you get what you deserve for your agony and suffering after an accident.
What is a T-bone Accident?
A T- bone accident is one where the front of a car or truck slams directly to the side of another vehicle forming a “T”- like shape. These accidents are among the most dangerous accidents in Los Angeles. They can cause severe bodily injuries or, in some cases, fatalities. Ultimately, these accidents could end up totaling your car. T-bone accidents are also commonly referred to as Broad-side collisions or Side-impact collisions.
T-bone Accident Statistics
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car accidents account for the majority of deaths for Americans between the age of 8-34. An estimated 8,000 people die in T-bone accidents in a year. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety states that T-bone and side-impact collisions account for more than a quarter of all passenger vehicle fatalities. Severe injuries that lead to impairment or total disability result from these tragic accidents as well.
Additionally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that side-impact collisions are the most dangerous for children. Deaths by these kinds of accidents have over the past 20 years increased by over 20 percent.
It is imperative to note that a T-bone accident is more deadly than a rear-crash or head-on collision as there is only a thin door and glass window that separates the occupant of the car to the vehicle that has slammed into him/her. Most vehicles do not have air-bags on the sides that could insulate the occupants in case of an accident.
How Do T-bone Accidents Occur?
Most of these accidents are caused by negligence by drivers on the road and will, in most cases, occur in intersections when a driver crossing a green light is broad-sided by a motorist who fails to observe the traffic signals and runs a red light. A T-bone could also occur when one driver fails to yield the right of way to another motorist.
A driver could also get distracted while driving and cause an accident. Reckless driving or aggressive driving is also another factor that causes such accidents. Driving while intoxicated or otherwise impaired can lead to a T-bone accident. There are instances where a driver makes a wrong turn, which in effect can cause an oncoming motorist to run into the vehicle. Speeding is another factor that significantly increases the occurrence of T-bone accidents. Additionally, a T-bone accident could happen at a four-way when there are power outages, and the traffic lights are not working, or they are simply broken and not in proper working condition.
However, there are ways you could avoid side-impact collisions:
- Avoid distractions while driving.
- Obey traffic rules.
- Watch out for speed limits and ensure to follow the set limits.
- Be keen on the road by looking out for oncoming traffic, especially at intersections.
- Ensure you do not drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Injuries Associated with T-bone Accidents
Accidents happen when we least expect them to and could leave one severely traumatized or, in most cases, severely injured. Depending on the weight of the vehicle and the speed of the at-fault vehicle, injuries could vary. Some of the injuries caused by such collisions include:
- Head injuries - They could vary from deep cuts from shattered glass to concussions or even brain injuries from a more significant impact.
- Neck injuries - Whiplash is a common injury where there is a sudden movement of the head and neck.
- Back injuries - This could include herniated discs, spinal cord damage, and in severe cases, could lead to paralysis.
- Broken bones
- Ear damage and hearing loss
- Hip displacement
- Chest injuries
- Lacerations on the face and other body parts
- Mental Health issues, e.g., Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD)
Determining Liability in a T-bone Accident
It is important to note that either driver can be at fault in a T-bone accident. However, once you contact a lawyer well- versed in car accidents, he/she will advise you on who is at fault and help you on how to go about determining liability for your unfortunate incident.
There are some scenarios that the at-fault driver is easily determined. First, there is the scenario where a driver fails to follow the traffic signs and broad-sides an oncoming motorist who was lawfully driving through an intersection. The at-fault driver is the one who ran the red light on his end and ultimately slammed into the oncoming car. Another scenario could be where a motorist fails to yield the right of way at an intersection or makes a wrong turn without any consideration to on-coming traffic, he/she may be liable for a T-bone collision.
There are other instances where both drivers could be liable for the accident. In a situation where a driver makes an illegal turn where he/she should not have and is T-boned by another motorist from the opposite direction who was speeding, then both motorists are liable.
Though most T-bone accidents could at first seem evident over who may be the at-fault party, some incidences warrant further considerations. That is where an experienced lawyer, well versed with LA Car Accident laws, will come in handy to get you compensated what you deserve.
Proving Fault In a T-bone Accident?
This is an essential step towards receiving compensation that is rightly due to you when you are involved in an accident. As the injured person or plaintiff, you will need to prove that the other driver was negligent, and as a result, an accident occurred and was the cause of the injuries you sustained. You will need to prove that:
- The other driver had a duty of care towards you and other road users to drive safely.
- He/she breached that duty of care through negligence.
- The breach caused the accident and grievous body injuries or fatalities.
Also, when you have been involved in a T-bone accident, the services of a well-experienced lawyer with expertise in gathering evidence will come in handy should you go to court or pursue the insurance companies. Some of the evidence that is needed to prove fault in an accident scene include:
- Police accident reports
- Names of police officers who visit the scene
- Name of other drivers involved and contact information of their insurance providers
- Photographs that were taken of both cars involved and the scene of the accident
- Traffic camera footage
- Witness accounts or statements and their names
- Footage from surveillance cameras of nearby businesses that could have captured the incident
- Physical evidence from the vehicle
- The vehicle’s electronic data for those vehicles that have this feature
Why Does Fault Matter In a T-bone Accident?
In California, to bring a claim for damages accrued from an accident against the other party’s insurance, the injured party must prove undoubtedly that the other driver’s negligence caused their harm and suffering.
The state of California recognizes a system of Comparative Negligence. This is to say, the party seeking compensation from another is likely to have their compensation award reduced if the at-fault party can prove that the plaintiff caused their injuries. Though they may not be fully barred from recovery, the plaintiff’s damages could suffer significant reduction.
Statute of Limitations For a T-bone Accident in Los Angeles
In Los Angeles, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims, including car accidents, is two years from the date of the accident and six months if the accident involves a government entity. However, some exceptions could extend this time frame. These may include:
- Delayed Discovery rule- In this instance, the plaintiff could not have discovered or did not discover that he/she suffered harm as a result of another person’s wrongful conduct.
- Lacking Legal capacity - If the accident occurred when the injured person was a minor, he/she could wait to turn 18 to file a lawsuit.
- The defendant left California after the accident, and so the lawsuit could not be filed in court.
What Damages Can I seek In My Lawsuit?
Pursuing compensation for damages accrued from a T-bone accident is necessary to ensure that the accident does not altogether alter your standard of living. Damages can also vary depending on the severity of the injuries suffered, whether the accident caused physical impairment or permanent disability or even the losses one may have undergone as a result of the accident.
Damages could be classified under economic and non-economic damages. Non-economic damages lean towards compensating for psychological effects from the accident like post-traumatic stress disorder, which cannot be quantified economically, mental anguish and pain, suffering, anxiety, depression that could all have resulted from the accident.
Economic damages include:
- Loss of income. This covers all income you lose as a direct result of the accident. This includes income lost on the days you missed work to seek medical attention or even income lost during the recovery period after your injury.
- Recurrent medical expenses. This deals with all medical expenses incurred from the day the injury occurred, including an estimate of future medical expenses that you may incur.
- A decrease in earning power as a result of the injury - In this case, the plaintiff is unable to upgrade their position as a result of incapacitation, thus rendering them to a lesser paying position.
- Disability or disfigurement. This takes into account all aspects of the victim’s life and what he/she stands to lose, considering the reduced quality of life as a result of the accident incurred.
- Expenses incurred as a result of paying for someone to help you perform daily chores.
- Loss of a spouse or companion or relationships - This is also tied to non-economic damages. A relationship could suffer as a result of an injury or even result in losing a spouse altogether because of unfulfillment or other issues that could arise as a result of the injury incurred over an accident. This is also termed as the loss of consortium.
- Damage to property. This covers the obvious damage to the car and any other item that was destroyed in the accident.
What to Do After Being Involved in a T-bone Accident?
There are steps to consider after an accident. These activities help you safeguard your well-being as well as ensure you secure compensation for your injuries and suffering.
Seek Medical Attention
The first and of utmost importance should be your health. Ensure that everyone in the vehicle and around you is all right. Depending on the speeds of the vehicles involved, the impact could have caused your car to spin and even hit barriers along the roadside, which could have ultimately caused shattered glass from the windows, which could, in turn, lead to injuries.
You must consider your health and safety at this point because the moments after an accident are very crucial. Call the police and ambulance if you are in a position to. Note that if you feel injured, you should not attempt to get out of the car to minimize the severity of the injuries unless it's necessary for your safety. It is essential to seek medical attention even when you feel that you have no visible injuries. This is because the adrenaline released by your body as a defense mechanism could mask the pain while hiding internal injuries sustained. The medical reports from the doctors also work as part of the documentation your personal injury lawyer will use in seeking compensation.
If you can, it is advisable to take photos of the accident scene or have someone take them for you. They also form part of the documentation your lawyer needs to prove liability. If possible, collect witnesses’ contact information so the lawyers can get their statements of the accident.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
Call a personal injury lawyer before you speak to the insurance companies or even the police as anything you say before your lawyer is present could undermine your case. Personal injury lawyers are fully trained and will ensure that you get fair compensation for your injuries and cover expenses accrued from medical costs or even expenses in case of the death of a passenger.
Claims Investigations and Evidence Gathering
The personal injury lawyer involved in your case at this point begins by gathering evidence that proves fault like witness statements, police reports, photographic evidence, and even medical records for the injured. All these help build a strong and solid case against the negligent driver’s insurance company’s fair compensation.
File an Insurance Claim or Settlement
The vast majority of T-bone accident cases are settled out of court. If any, very few make it to court. At this point, the lawyers have carried out their due diligence by ensuring they have done their research to be in a position to place a value on the compensation award. They engage the defendant’s insurance company by giving their offer, which could get a counter-offer, and negotiations go on until a fair and acceptable settlement is reached. If these negotiations do not yield an acceptable offer, the case then moves on to be filed as a lawsuit.
However, in most cases, these cases do not go to court as a mediator is appointed to settle the case before it goes into a court trial.
Compensation After a T-bone Accident
After an accident has occurred, it is a period of great confusion, utter despair, and anxiety brought on by the substantial medical bills and the uncertainty of your ability to get back to work, leaving you with a tremendous financial burden. It is, therefore, very prudent to always consult a personal injury lawyer once the doctor has given you a clean bill of health to pursue compensation for your woes.
Compensation largely depends on several factors, including the severity and extent of the injuries and damage to property, circumstances under which the accident occurred, the facts of the case, as argued by your attorney. Carry out due diligence as you seek out the best attorneys who will carry your best interests at heart as they will determine how much you deserve in damages.
It is always advisable to consult your lawyer first before talking to the insurance companies or even signing any insurance forms after an accident to avoid forfeiting your right to legal action.
Do I Need an Attorney Even If I Was At Fault?
Yes, you do need an attorney even if you think you were partly at fault for causing the accident. However, at the scene, it is vital to watch your words as anything you say could be misconstrued as admitting liability, which could compromise your case. California operates under the Comparative Fault Law, which allows the injured party to be awarded damages even if he/she partly was to blame for the accident. The damages could be reduced based on each party’s level of fault.
Do I Have a Claim If an Uninsured Driver Hit Me?
The state of California requires all motorists to have a policy of Automobile Liability Insurance. Insurance companies are also required to offer uninsured (UM) and underinsured (UIM)motorist coverage though it is optional. However, there are thousands of people who are not able to afford insurance yet, are driving on the roads.
In the unlikely event that you are broad-sided by an uninsured driver, the uninsured motorist insurance pays for the damages when the at-fault party does not have insurance. On the other hand, in case an underinsured motorist broad-sides you, the motorist's insurance pays for damages that the at-fault party’s coverage does not provide enough coverage for the total damages.
Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney
Since accidents are more likely to occur when you least expect them, it is understandable that hiring a lawyer is an expense that is mostly not budgeted for in your costs. Most professional personal injury attorneys will take your case on a contingency basis. This means that they will sit with you and listen to your case and determine the merits of the case on a free, no-obligation basis.
At this stage, if you have a strong case, the lawyers will then get into a contract with agreed-upon percentages that will be paid as lawyers fee after the case has been prosecuted and won. The rate can vary from state to state, and you must get the agreement in writing to avoid friction at the end of the case. In most cases, a lawyer’s fee is usually 33 to 40 percent of the settled amount the lawyer gets for the client.
In addition to the contingency fee, there are other expenses you may be billed that were accrued from your case. They include:
- Hiring investigators and expert witnesses
- Scheduling special court proceedings
- Court filing fees
- Medical records fees
- Subpoenas and summons costs
- Copies of police reports
- Court reporters fees
- Long-distance phone bills
This is information that your personal injury lawyer should notify you at the onset of your case for clarification.
Find a Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
Car accidents can easily cause you anxiety, worry, and untold trauma, leaving you confused as to the steps you need to take to regain control of your life. However, hiring the right personal injury attorney to walk with you through the murky waters of getting your life back on track is very crucial to your overall well being.
The LA Personal Injury Law Firm has a great team of personal injury lawyers who are well versed in personal injury laws and statutes and a wealth of knowledge regarding how best to handle T-bone accidents. Our attorneys have excellent skills in negotiating the best and most favorable compensation for your injuries. Call us at 310-935-0089 to speak to our legal experts regarding your T-bone accident for assistance and schedule a free consultation.