A T-bone car accident, also sometimes called a side-impact accident, is when one vehicle makes a direct side impact into another vehicle in a perpendicular fashion, resulting in forming the shape of the letter “T.” It’s a type of accident that can have devastating results, and it can also occur in a variety of ways, making determining who is at fault for the damages suffered less cut-and-dry than many people might assume.

Q: What kind of damage can occur from a T-bone accident? 

A: T-bone accidents are some of the most devastating types of car accidents that can occur because of the significant force involved in combination with a highly dangerous point of impact to the car. These crashes usually connect directly where either the driver or passenger is sitting inside the car, with little room for protection in between. Side airbags have only recently become a manufacturing requirement for many types of vehicles, which means the results of side impacts can be even more deadly if the impacted car is an older model.

The forceful impact can cause the car to move violently, spin out, or even flip and/or roll. It can total the car, cause it to collide with other vehicles on the road, and do extensive damage to property inside the vehicle as well. The car that collides into the side of the other car can also suffer extensive damage to its front end, often directly resulting in severe engine or mechanical damage.

Q: What kinds of injuries can occur from a T-bone accident? 

A: Like many types of severe car accidents, a T-bone accident can result in mild to grave injuries and everything in between. The force of the impact can cause whiplash injuries to the neck and back, traumatic brain injuries, facial injuries, spinal cord injuries, bone breaks or fractures, and lacerations and contusions. When the driver or passenger is hit from the side, they may experience a more severe injury on that side of their body, but injuries are not always confined to one location and can be drastic for many parts of the body.

Q: How do T-bone accidents happen?

A: There are many ways and reasons why a T-bone accident may occur. Some involve careless or reckless driving, others are a result of poor road or weather conditions. Some of the more common potential causes often include:

  • Running a red light or a stop sign, whereby a car proceeding through the intersection when they shouldn’t hits another car that has the right of way. Alternatively, the driver who runs the red light might be struck by another vehicle that has the right of way.
  • Loss of control over the vehicle, such as tires losing traction with pavement and causing the vehicle to skid into another car.
  • Reckless driving, such as cutting or turning across multiple lanes of traffic, or drunk driving.
  • Distracted driving, such as texting while driving, playing music too loudly, or otherwise paying attention to the activity going on inside the car rather than to the road and other vehicles.

Q: How is fault determined in a T-bone accident?

A: It’s not always the car that side-impacts the other car that’s immediately found at fault for a T-bone accident. Because there are several different ways a T-bone accident can occur, determining fault happens through a thorough investigation into how the accident happened and what the results were. The involved insurance companies, law enforcement, and attorneys will first gather the police report, witness statements, video recordings, medical records and bills documenting injuries, and any other relevant documents showing the damages that resulted from the crash. These parties will then determine fault by looking at all this combined evidence to decide what—or who—was the main cause of the accident. If one driver is found to have broken traffic laws or was driving recklessly or under the influence and caused the accident, they will likely be found at fault. But if it’s determined that some like poor road conditions led to the crash, fault may be harder to determine.

Q: How do Missouri state laws affect how a fault is determined?

A: Missouri is an at-fault state, meaning fault is assigned to the drivers involved based on how much they may have contributed to the accident occurring. In other words, if the T-bone accident is found to be a single reckless driver’s fault, they may receive 100% of the fault and their insurance provider will pay 100% of the damages owed. But if multiple cars are found to be at fault, they each may be assigned a percentage of fault that their individual insurance providers will be required to cover.

Drivers in Missouri are also required to follow all state-specific traffic laws, even if they reside out of state and are just visiting or driving through. If they break these laws, such as U-turning where not permitted, they may be found at fault for the accident in full.

Q: What should I do if I’m the victim of a T-bone accident?

A: The most important thing to do after a T-bone accident is to call 9-1-1 and get the medical treatment you or others involved in the accident need. Then, if possible, be sure to gather the other driver’s contact and insurance information. After you’ve treated your injuries, you will likely be contacted by the insurance companies for all the drivers involved. Because T-bone accidents can be so severe and complicated as a result, it’s advisable to contact an experienced car accident attorney at this stage. They can help guide you through the process of how to work with insurance agents, protect your rights, and make sure you receive the compensation you deserve.

As your case progresses, be sure to adhere to your doctor’s recovery recommendations as closely as you can. It’s also important to take close stock and keep a thorough record of exactly what kind of damages you and other passengers in your car might have suffered, including injuries, damage to your vehicle, and damage to any other relevant property. This is something an attorney can also help you with in order to help determine the value of your claim.

Q: What types of compensation can I receive after a T-bone accident? 

A: In personal injury cases like a car accident, the victim is often awarded compensatory damages, which are meant to compensate the victim for any losses sustained as a result of the accident. As such, you might be entitled to compensation for:

  • Medical bills, including emergency services, procedures, medications, equipment, and physical or other therapy.
  • Vehicle damage and other property damage.
  • Lost wages if you’re unable to work due to your injuries and miss paychecks or lose PTO and other employee benefits.
  • Pain and suffering directly result from the injuries suffered.
  • Loss of consortium, or the loss of a spouse in the event of their death due to the accident.
  • In some cases, punitive damages, which is additional awarded compensation meant to discourage future similar behavior that led to your accident.

Though each of these types of compensation is possible, it’s important to remember that because Missouri is an at-fault state, the amount of insurance coverage the defendant has can affect your claim and compensation. But the value of your claim is entirely dependent on your case, and once again, the right car accident attorney can help you determine exactly what that might be, and what your best options are.