T-bone Crashes

When a driver runs a red light and hits another vehicle crossing an intersection, that’s what’s known informally as a T-bone crash – vehicles colliding at perpendicular angles.

T-bone crashes occur most often at a crossing of two or more streets, or at a point where cars pull into traffic from a side street or parking lot. Sometimes, accident investigators can easily pinpoint who is to blame for such a crash. For example, a person who pulls into oncoming traffic without looking and causes a crash would likely be found to be 100 percent at fault for a crash. But if the other driver was speeding, distracted, or intoxicated at the time of the crash, the fault for the crash may be harder to determine.

If you’ve been injured in a T-bone crash, you may be entitled to compensation, regardless of whether you were partially at fault.

John R. Colvin has more than 15 years of experience helping personal injury victims in the Tennessee Valley get the insurance settlements they need to move on with their lives. Don’t wait to get help – call us today to request your free consultation: 931-962-1044.

Characteristics of T-Bone Crashes

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration released a report in 2010, detailing what crash data analysis reveals about intersection accidents. Researchers found intersections accounted for 36 to 40 percent of all motor vehicle crashes in 2008, and of those crashes, 96 percent were attributed to driver error.

The most common errors involved in intersection crashes were recognition error, such as distraction and inattention, and decision error, such as misjudging the speed of an oncoming vehicle. Male drivers of all ages were more likely to cause intersection crashes due to aggressive driving, speeding, and illegal maneuvers.

More than half of intersection crashes involve vehicles turning left.

When an intersection lacks a dedicated left-turn arrow, drivers must rely on their own vision and judgment to determine whether they can safely turn left across the path of oncoming traffic. Any factor that interferes with that judgment – inattention, drowsiness, alcohol impairment, or vision deficiencies – can result in a driver making a dangerous miscalculation.

Left-turn crashes are the most common type of accident involving motorcycles. What typically happens is a car turns across the path of an approaching motorcycle, either because the driver didn’t see the motorcyclist or misjudged its speed. In these collisions, motorcyclists may be thrown forward off their motorcycles and suffer severe, disabling injuries.

Determining Fault

In early 2016, police investigating an intersection crash in Memphis found that a man driving a Chevrolet ran a red light and struck a left-turning Buick. The passenger in the Buick died from injuries suffered in the crash, and the driver was found to be under the influence of intoxicants at the time of the crash. Both drivers were charged with multiple offenses, and it was the man who ran the red light, not the intoxicated driver turning left, who was charged with vehicular homicide.

That accident demonstrates that even though left-turning drivers are generally assumed to be at fault when they’re involved in a T-bone crash, other factors may result in some fault being assigned to the oncoming driver. In Tennessee, if you were less than 50 percent at fault in a T-bone crash, you may still be able to pursue a personal injury claim against the other driver.

Injuries in T-bone Crashes

Often, in T-bone crashes, passengers suffer the worst injuries. In a left-turn crash, it’s the passenger seat that’s exposed to direct impact from an oncoming vehicle.

All newly manufactured passenger vehicles are required by federal law to be equipped with front air bags, but side air bags are not required. Without side air bags, occupants of a vehicle may be at greater risk for serious and fatal injuries in a side-impact crash.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety began conducting studies in 2003 on side-impact crashes. At that time, federal side-impact crash tests were conducted with a stationary car and moving barrier that represented a second vehicle. That moving barrier, however, wasn’t as tall as modern SUVs and large pick-ups, so the IIHS wondered if existing side-impact crash test data could reliably predict the risk of head injury. In its own tests, the IIHS found the risk of head injury was high in side-impact crashes, especially for smaller occupants, and cars with a strong safety cage and side airbags were more likely to protect occupants from fatal head injuries.

Making Roads Safer

At least one type of T-bone crash has become less common in communities that have installed traffic cameras at intersections. These cameras record incidents of drivers running red lights and mail a traffic ticket to the offending drivers.

After the installation of intersection cameras in Murfreesboro, the number of intersection crashes due to drivers running red lights fell to 1,064 in 2015, from 1,692 in 2007. And in Gallatin, eight years after intersection cameras were installed, red-light crashes had decreased by 40 percent.

Even with side airbags, proper traffic controls, and intersection cameras, T-bone crashes will continue to be a problem if drivers are negligent and reckless.

If you’ve been injured in a T-bone crash, contact us today for your no-obligation consultation by filling out our online form, or calling 931-962-1044.

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