Side-impact car accidents, also known as T-bone accidents, occur when the front of one vehicle crashes into the side of another. In many cases, these accidents occur at intersections when a motorist fails to stop or yield the right of way to the other driver.
Not only are these car accidents fairly common, they can cause serious injuries, particularly to the occupants of the vehicle that was hit. In fact, up to 10,000 people are fatally injured in side impact accidents in the United States every year.
Depending on the circumstances of the accident, determining fault is not always easy.
In some cases, it is clear which driver caused the accident, based on the location of the accident and how the crash happened. For example, if a motorist was hit by another vehicle while making a left turn at an intersection, the other motorist would clearly be at fault if he or she had driven through a red light.
Oftentimes, however, motorists will try to place the blame on the other driver, claiming that he or she had the right of way.
The following factors should be accounted for in determining which driver was at fault:
Know what to do after the accident: Like any other car accident, it is important that you call the police immediately following the accident. Avoid apologizing to the other driver, as this may be used against you by his or her insurance company. If there were witnesses, get their contact information, and take pictures of the scene and any damage to your vehicle.
Traffic Signals: Try to make a mental note of the exact time the accident occurred. Most traffic lights have automated programming, so you may be able to compare the time of the accident against the light changing pattern of the traffic light to confirm whether the other driver ran a red light.
This may not provide the evidence you need to prove that the other driver caused the accident, but it may show that you were not at fault.
Defective Parts: If one of the vehicles involved in a side-impact accident had a defective part that contributed to the accident, this can complicate the situation in terms of determining fault.
For example, if one of the drivers ran a red light because the brakes in their can failed, it may not be the driver’s fault. The manufacturer, or the shop that inspected the car but did not replace the defective part, may be liable.
However, if the driver knew that the brakes needed to be replaced, but failed to do so, he or she will likely be considered at fault for the accident.