What are Side Impact / T-Bone Collisions
Side impact collisions are a common type of accident in Philadelphia. These collisions are often referred to as T-Bone accidents or broadside collisions, are the second most dangerous type of auto collision in the USA.
Car crashes in intersections or crossing rural highways are frequently the scene of broadside collisions. Side impact collisions can result in serious injury to the occupants of both cars. Modern safety features have helped to reduce catastrophic injuries and fatalities, but there is no way to eliminate the risks drivers face when involved in a t-bone accident.
Our personal injury attorneys specialize in the unique laws in Pennsylvania. The laws of the Commonwealth can make it difficult for drivers and their passengers who are injured in a broadside collision to get the medical coverage and financial compensation they deserve.
Our lawyers are here to help ensure that you and your family do not suffer a lifetime of pain after a car crash. Insurance company lawyers will try and use the nuanced Pennsylvania laws against you to reduce your settlement. Our accident lawyers know all the tricks and how to overcome legal obstacles created by insurance companies.
What do I do if I am in a T-Bone accident?
After any accident, you must contact the police and any other emergency service that might be needed as soon as possible. Then try to take note of the time. See if there are any witnesses you may be able to get contact info from. Next, try to take a few photos, if you can. Finally, if you have to interact with the other driver, make sure they are alright but do not admit fault. Having plenty of evidence is key to resolving the situation. The sooner the evidence is collected, the more likely it is to be correct.
Once you have left the scene of the accident, make your way to a medical facility as soon as possible. Head to the local ER or clinic to get checked over for any damage you may have overlooked. You may believe that all you have are minor injuries, and that may be true, but these early medical records may become key to proving your claim if something out of the ordinary turns up. If you or your children develop anxiety or nightmares after the accident, seek treatment for these as well.
How can you determine fault?
With T-bone accidents, the fault may not be obvious. The police may delay making a determination. If there are no traffic cameras present, witness testimony becomes critical. If you make a note of the time of the accident and the timing of your call to the police it could, in most cities, be matched up against traffic light programming as well. If defective parts are involved, if a certain medical emergency occurred, or if there was an outside source of influence you will more than likely need an attorney on your side.
It's important to remember that the majority of traffic accidents are the fault of human error, not individual circumstances or poor conditions. Not every accident is major, either. Though a T-bone accident is more likely to result in a severe injury, you may walk away with only a few aches and bruises.
If your medical bills total less than $1,000 and you walk away without a significant injury you may consider going through the claims process on your own or with the help of an insurance representative. Then again, if the accident involved any of the following, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible, even just for a consultation:
- A Driver Under the Influence
- Road Construction
- A Bus
- A Pedestrian, Cyclist or Motorcycle
Determining Fault in a Side Impact Collision
Personal injury laws in Pennsylvania protect injured residents from the negligent actions of others. The law defines negligence as any action taken by an individual or group that causes injury to another where proper care would have prevented the injury from happening. Negligence is most often unintentional. Intentional negligence -called gross negligence by attorneys- is particularly rare in T-bone accidents.
Most of the time, determining fault in a side impact crash is straightforward. These accidents happen frequently at intersections that are controlled by signs or lights. Negligence occurs when a driver fails to stop according to signs or lights and enters an intersection, hitting other cars, pedestrians, and bicyclists. This is the most common way intersection accidents happen, and is the easiest to determine fault.
The driver striking a car in the intersection is not always the one at fault, though. The negligent action that leads to fault is failing to stop or yield. In some cases, drivers will enter an intersection against the light or sign and be struck by a car lawfully proceeding. Fault is assigned to the driver who was struck in this situation because it was their duty to stop.
Negligence Caused by Others
Side impact collisions can quickly get complicated when the cause of the accident is not straightforward. In some cases, it is even possible that neither driver was at fault for causing the accident. Hiring a personal injury attorney to handle any car accident is always the best way to get a fair settlement, but claims that are not clear-cut are complex. Hiring a lawyer may be the only way to recover losses suffered in a t-bone accident.
Some of the more challenging intersection accident cases our attorneys have won involve multiple individuals and groups assigned a portion of the responsibility for the collision. Consider an intersection in which the stop lights are malfunctioning or not working. The rules of the road demand that drivers stop at signal lights that are not working before safely proceeding. If two drivers enter an intersection with malfunctioning lights and are involved in a collision, fault might be assigned to either of the drivers depending on the roadway. But, fault might also be assigned to the municipality responsible for maintaining the light.
Another case that is not simple to negotiate involves drivers who enter an intersection against a light to move out of the way of emergency vehicles. A driver with a green light, but unaware of emergency vehicles approaching from a cross street might lawfully enter an intersection only to collide with cars lawfully making way for EMS. Fault may fall on either driver in this situation, depending on numerous factors.
In some cases, the negligence causing the collision is caused by the agency that designed or maintains the intersection. Trees and shrubs that block the view of drivers can cause accidents. Poorly designed signage or improperly maintained lane markings can leave drivers unable to easily identify hazards, creating a likelihood of a collision. A good personal injury attorney will be able to determine if a poorly designed intersection is wholly or partly responsible for the crash.
Pennsylvania law allows for claims of comparative negligence. In short, this means that when an accident has happened but both parties involved bear some responsibility for the cause of the collision, the courts will reduce award amounts according to the percentage of responsibility each driver had. Any determination by a court that a driver is more than 50% responsible voids any ability to recover losses from others.
Comparative negligence often comes into play in cases that involve badly designed or improperly maintained intersections. A certain amount of responsibility falls on the municipality, while the remainder of fault is assigned to the driver who caused the crash. These cases can be particularly challenging to win. Injured drivers dealing with cases involving multiple claims of negligence need to hire a lawyer. These types of cases are exceedingly complex and deal with multiple aspects of law beyond personal injury.
Pennsylvania’s No-Fault Car Insurance
As one of only a few states in the nation that permits no-fault insurance, Pennsylvania injury lawyers have their work cut out for them. No-fault insurance is a complex subject. To make it simple, drivers with a no-fault policy trade the ability to sue for damages and losses for a reduced monthly bill. In almost all cases, a no-fault policy is a bad idea. Caps on the policy prevent recovery of significant amounts of money unless certain thresholds are met.
When a driver has a no-fault policy, damages are handled by that person's insurance company, regardless of fault. In a no-fault settlement, medical bills and loss of wages can be recovered, but the injured person cannot get compensation for pain and suffering or non-economic losses. The laws get more complex from there. For instance, if you have a no-fault policy and are struck by an out-of-state driver with traditional insurance, you may be able to recover both economic and non-economic losses.
No-fault insurance policies may help save drivers money month-to-month, but these policies can also result in unrecoverable economic damages. Our personal injury attorneys recommend that you carefully research no-fault policies before accepting one. The legal limitations of the policy often outweigh the savings.
There are ways a skilled injury attorney can help accident victims faced with policy caps from no-fault insurance. The process for winning these cases is often long and difficult. It is not uncommon for cases arguing for claims beyond the caps of a no-fault policy to go to trial.
Common Injuries From Intersection Accidents
The nature of side impact collisions means that occupants of all vehicles involved stand a high chance of serious injury. Even the most modern, well-designed car today can’t protect occupants completely from the force of impact that happens. Safety features like side curtain airbags can help to reduce the severity of injuries, but t-bone injuries are still common.
Studies by the National Council for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) indicate that around 50% of occupants in vehicles struck from the side suffer injuries to the chest or abdomen. Some injuries, like bruised ribs, are very painful and slow to heal, but not serious. Other injuries, like internal bleeding, can lead to the immediate need for hospitalization and potentially death.
Head, neck, and spine injuries are also common, appearing in nearly 30% of side impact crashes. These injuries also range from mild sprains to serious injuries like paralysis. Head injuries are always serious in medical terms. Symptoms of a serious head injury can take hours or even days to appear, and may take months to recover. Serious concussions may cause permanent brain damage. Injuries to the spine and neck may never heal without surgical repair, but it could take months before the extent of a neck injury is understood.
Fractures are commonly experienced in intersection accidents. Broken arms, legs, and other fractures are intensely painful, take many months to heal, and may lead to serious permanent disfigurement and disability.
Choosing the Right Attorney
Every personal injury attorney in Philadelphia is going to promise you they can get you the settlement you deserve. But, when you are injured and facing mounting bills, unable to work, and fighting with insurance adjusters, hiring a lawyer isn’t something you want to spend a lot of time dealing with.
Do Not Sign Anything After an Accident Without Consulting a Lawyer
If you are asked to sign anything that seems suspicious, even if it has been explained to you, you should never hesitate to ask an attorney for help. Though your insurer will try to make you the best deal possible in most instances, they are still in business and want to keep their costs down.
Contacting all of the different parties involved in your case and gathering sufficient evidence can be more than a hassle- it could be next to impossible. If you have sustained any sort of injury or trauma from the accident you may simply not be in a state where you can process the situation.
Having an attorney on your side can make sure that no one takes advantage of you or your condition. The police may be willing to do some of that work or they may not. An attorney will do everything they can for you. Beyond simply proving your case, they can work with your health care providers to ensure that any necessary documentation regarding damage to your health is collected. Then they can help you get an appropriate settlement, even if it takes some negotiation.
Our risk-free consultation is designed as an opportunity to tell our attorneys about the facts of your case. We will quickly let you know what we can do to get you the help you need. Our attorneys are bulldogs, and the insurance companies know it. We get you the fair settlement you deserve and take away the stress and hassle of insurance adjusters. We make sure your rights are protected the way the law intends, and we won’t let insurance company lawyers use the law against you. Hiring a lawyer might seem intimidating and even unnecessary, but the right lawyer will make sure you are fairly compensated and your long-term interests are considered.
There is no reason you should face the consequences of a t-bone accident that wasn’t your fault alone. Our attorneys protect you from the first call until long after we win your case. Remember, we win, or it’s free.