When we think about car accidents, most of the time we envision a dead-on hit. Or perhaps hitting another car or even a pole. But car accidents come in many forms, and in some cases we can be hit on the side of our vehicle. This is often referred to as a side impact collision, or a T-bone crash.
Typically it’s an accident that we don’t really anticipate. You’re driving normally, and when you turn into a road you’re hit because the other driver ignored a stop sign or a red light. So it seems unfair that it’s not your fault and yet you’re in greater risk of sustaining more serious injuries.
What You Need to Know about Side Impact Accidents
The main problem is that the protection you get from the side of the car is minimal, compared to the more ample crumple zone you enjoy with the front and back ends of your car. The large space between you and the other car in head-on and rear-end collisions offer some measure of protection since the force of the impact can be mitigated. In the case of side-impact collisions, you get no such protection from just your door.
The consequences of such an accident for you can be horrific, since you absorb much of the impact. You’re likely to sustain serious injuries when you’re hit by another car, and the results can be much worse when it’s a larger vehicle such as a truck. You’ll need to stay a long while in the hospital while you recuperate, and the medical bills may pile up in the meantime. The expenses as well as the lost wages can wreak havoc upon your family’s finances.
So what can you do the help your family? One potential solution is to consult with a personal injury attorney, who may then counsel you to file a personal injury claim against the liable driver. The compensation that may result from such a suit can help cover the hospital bills, along with your lost wages. You may even be compensated for any disfigurement or injury, any reduction in your quality of life, and for your pain and suffering.
The attorney can review your case and decide if you do have a strong claim. This lawyer can then help guide you through the process, while they also help gather the evidence to back up your claim. They can then represent your side for any settlement negotiation.
What Are the Common Causes of Side Impact Collisions?
Negligence is perhaps the most common causes of such side impact collisions. You’re hit on the side of your car generally because the other drive wasn’t driving as carefully and as safely as they could be.
This negligence can be in several forms. Perhaps the driver was young and aggressive, and they were driving recklessly. Nowadays drivers can also be distracted very easily, so that they were unable to notice a red light or a stop sign before they went into an intersection where you had the right of way.
If the other driver was indeed negligent, you do have the right to file suit against that driver so that you can receive financial damages to help you cover the costs of your treatment. While you have this right, it still falls on the attorney to advise you whether or not this action is suitable for your given circumstances.
What Kind of Injuries Can You Suffer?
The general rule in these types of accidents is that any person who’s in a car when it’s hit from the side will likely suffer more serious injuries. That’s especially true for the people who were sitting on the same side as the side where the car was hit. Still, the people on the other side may suffer some injuries as well.
The more common types of injuries resulting from these accidents include:
- Head injuries. Many experts are worried about concussion, though it’s possible that other types of brain injuries may be suffered as well. Cuts from the window glass are also likely.
- Neck injuries. Your head may snap from the force of the impact, so the neck may then extend in an unnatural manner. Injuries of this sort can include whiplash as well as herniated discs.
- Back injuries. Herniated discs are again possible, along with damage to the nerves and spinal cord. It’s even possible for the injured person to suffer from some sort of paralysis.
- Crushing injuries. The car frame can buckle, and cause injuries to the pelvis, abdomen, and chest. You may also have broken or dislocated bones, particularly in your arms and legs.
- Soft tissue damage. You may also suffer tears, strains, and sprains on your ligaments, tendons, and muscles.
The Injuries Can Be Much Worse When You’re Hit by a Truck
Getting hit by a car on the side is a nightmare, and if you think about it the prospect can make you shudder. The increased risk of more serious injuries is so great that often the people inside the impacted car don’t survive the accident. In the US, up to 10,000 people die from side impact collisions every year.
But this danger is especially greater when it involves an 18-wheel behemoth. Getting hit by such a monster vehicle is bad enough when the impact is at the front or back of your car. At least those kinds of collisions can offer a bit of protection. You have the bumper, steel frame, the engine, the boot space, and even the seats inside the car to help cushion the blow.
But getting hit by a truck on the side of car is a much different proposition. This time you only have a door and a window to come between you and a massive truck. When you consider that these trucks can reach a weight of up to 80,000 pounds when it’s fully loaded, you’ll realize that the threat is quite substantial. The truck can generate enough force to simply run over the whole car, including the passengers inside.
Causes of Side Impact Collisions that May Result in Liability
Several types of scenarios can result in a side impact collision, and many of these involve some form of negligence.
- Failing to yield. Before a driver can get a license, they’re supposed to know what to do when they encounter another car at a 4-way stop. Both cars are supposed to stop, and then the one on the left goes first through the intersection. Unfortunately, some drivers forget (or don’t even learn) these rules and they may mistakenly think that they have the right of way.
- Failing to stop. Sometimes a driver may not even stop at an intersection at all. Quite a few truck drivers are guilty of this practice, because trucks are inherently more difficult to stop. In addition, many truck drivers are in a hurry so they don’t even bother stopping. However, this is an illegal and negligent practice.
- Running a red light. Sometimes a vehicle may speed up right before the lights turn red, and this can in turn lead to a side impact collision when they blaze through the red light. It can turn deadly when this involves a truck running through the red light.
- Turning across traffic lanes. This usually involves turning left at a turn, and drivers may not check if it’s safe to do so.
- Failing to check the traffic when turning right. When you’re turning right at an intersection, you have to check if it’s safe to join the flow of the traffic.
- Aggressive driving. In some cases, drivers may simply lose their cool when they drive. This may occur among drivers of larger vehicles who may wish to intimidate other drivers on the road.
- Driving while intoxicated. Drunk drivers simply don’t have the right frame of mind to make sound driving decisions.
- Bad weather. Sometimes these accidents are caused by slippery roads or by the poor visibility caused by fog or inclement weather.
- Equipment failure. This does happen every now and then. The consequences are rather horrific especially when the accident involves large trucks.
Determining the Liability
The behavior of all drivers involved in a side impact collision will usually be investigated by authorities, so that negligence can be ascertained. In most cases, only driver will be at fault for the crash. However, it is possible for both drivers to share partial responsibility for the collision. One driver may not adequately check the incoming traffic before making a turn, but then they can be hit by a car that’s going over the speed limit. Thus in this case both drivers were negligent.
It’s true that if you’re injured in a side impact collision you can file suit against the errant driver that hit your car. The crux of the matter, however, is in the evidence you can present. While it’s easy enough to show evidence of your serious injuries, it’s not always easy to prove that another driver was entirely negligent in causing the car crash.