If you've been involved in a T-bone collision, you're not alone. T-bone collisions, also known as side-impact collisions, kill more than 8,500 Americans each year -- and many others are injured. So, who is at fault when you are T-boned? In other words, whose responsibility is it to foot the bill for the damage and any injuries? The answer is, "it depends." Though it's easy to assume the person who collided with the side of your car is fully at fault, this is not always the case. In most cases, the fault is shared, and other times, you may be fully at fault -- even though the other person hit you! Here's a look at the factors the courts (and insurance companies) will consider to determine who's at fault.
Was the driver who hit you obeying traffic laws?
What, if anything, was the driver who hit you doing wrong that resulted in the accident? If he or she ran a red light or failed to stop at a stop sign, then this qualifies at negligence and would leave the driver at fault for the accident. (Of course, the court will also consider the other factors in this article, and you may be found partially at fault, too.) On the other hand, if the other driver was completely obeying all traffic laws and signals when he or she collided with you, then the fault probably rests more on your side.
Were you obeying traffic laws?
If your failure to obey traffic laws caused the other driver to collide with you, then you'll be named at fault for the accident. This includes cases in which you may have been speeding, causing you to enter the intersection before the other driver anticipated you would. Perhaps you ran a red light or a stop sign.
In cases in which both you and the other driver failed to obey traffic laws, the fault will usually be split 50/50. However, in some courts, the judge may weigh the severity of each of your acts and find that one of you is more at fault than the other. For instance, if you were going 50 miles per hour over the speed limit, but the other driver came to a rolling stop at the stop sign, the court may find you 70 percent at fault and the other driver 30 percent at fault, since you were more severely disobeying traffic laws.
What were the weather conditions?
In some cases, T-bone collisions have less to do with failure to obey traffic signals and more to do with poor driving conditions. Consider, for instance, if the other driver tried to stop, but slid on some ice and skidded into your car. Assuming the driver was taking precautions to account for the weather (such as braking early and going slowly), the fact that the weather conditions contributed to the crash may decrease the portion of the fault assigned to him or her. The same would be true if weather conditions kept you from being able to get out of the way of the car that was about to T-bone you.
Was either driver distracted behind the wheel?
These days, distracted driving contributes to a huge number of collisions. If the other driver was texting, eating, or talking on the phone while driving and it can be proven that this lead to the collision, then this will increase his or her proportion of the fault. On the other hand, if you were distracted when the accident occurred, even if you were otherwise following traffic laws, you are likely to be held partially liable. The court may argue that if you were not distracted, you could have acted in a manner that allowed you to avoid the collision.
Determining what proportion of the blame to assign to each driver in a T-bone collision can be pretty complicated. If you've been in this type of accident, it's important to hire a car accident lawyer to represent you. He or she can collect evidence from witnesses and perhaps cameras that caught the accident to show how the other driver's negligence contributed to the crash -- thereby decreasing the amount of fault that's placed on you.