Getting caught up in a T-bone accident is a harrowing experience that can leave you shaken, injured, and wondering about the legal implications that follow. Who is responsible for paying for any injuries you suffer in the accident? Can you file a legal claim for damages?
In California, determining fault is the most important part of finding out who is responsible for paying compensation after a car accident. Sometimes, one driver is at fault. In many other cases, multiple people share the fault for causing an accident.
Whether you’re the driver who T-boned someone or the unfortunate recipient of a T-bone impact, you have rights and legal options. The best way to determine how to move forward after a T-bone crash is to talk to a car accident lawyer about your specific circumstances.
What Is the T-Bone Law in California?
T-bone accidents, also known as side-impact or broadside collisions, happen when one vehicle crashes into the side of another at a perpendicular angle, forming a “T” shape.
These accidents can happen at intersections, parking lots, or even on highways. The result is often severe injuries because vehicle occupants are less protected from the side.
In California, like in most states, the legal concept of negligence plays a major role in determining who’s at fault in T-bone accidents. Under the rules of negligence, drivers have a legal duty to follow traffic laws and drive responsibly. When drivers fail this duty by running a red light or failing to yield the right of way, for example, their actions can cause accidents.
Under California’s comparative fault system, you can recover damages for your injuries and losses even if you’re partially at fault for the accident. Your recovery may be reduced by the proportion of fault that you share in causing the accident.
California has specific traffic laws governing the right of way at intersections, stop signs, and traffic signals. Violating these rules can significantly impact who’s at fault in a T-bone accident.
What Happens When You T-Bone Someone?
Whether you caused the accident or whether you were T-boned by another driver, you should follow some critical steps immediately after the collision. Check yourself and others for injuries and move to a safe place. File a police report at the scene or at the station later. Exchange information with the other driver and start the process of gathering evidence.
Even if you think you caused an accident, do not admit fault after the crash. Your statement could be used against you later when determining responsibility – and you may actually not be as much at fault as you realize. The other driver may have been speeding or they may have rolled through a stop sign. This may not become clear until you can gather more evidence.
The first few days after a car crash are critical to establishing a narrative of what happened. It’s critical that your voice is heard during this process so that you can get justice.
Determining Fault in a T-Bone Accident
Determining fault in a T-bone accident can be complex, as it often involves multiple factors and differing accounts of the incident. Other drivers may dispute the facts in an attempt to minimize their role in causing the accident, putting the blame on you instead.
In these situations, an experienced car accident lawyer is essential to protecting your rights and helping you piece together what happened by reviewing the following key considerations:
- Traffic laws – What are the rules and regulations that apply in your situation? What was the speed limit? Who had the right of way at the intersection?
- Weather conditions – If the road conditions at the time of your accident involved rain, snow, excessive wind, or other hazardous conditions, that could change the equation of fault. These conditions require greater care and slower driving speeds. Roads or intersections that are normally straightforward can become dangerous.
- Environmental conditions – Aside from the weather, there could have been a tree blocking your view or a temporary construction zone in the area that contributed to your crash. It’s important to record this type of evidence before it changes.
- Witness statements – Third-party witness statements from bystanders who watched the accident happen can be extremely valuable as evidence. You want to gather contact information from witnesses and get their testimony as soon after the incident as possible, while their memory of the events is still fresh and reliable.
- Traffic camera footage – Security and traffic cameras are common across California and many drivers have dashboard cameras. You may be able to access footage taken at the scene or from a nearby storefront to prove exactly how the crash happened.
- Accident reconstruction – An experienced car accident lawyer can call on experts to recreate how car accidents happened by analyzing descriptions and photographs of the accident scene, the damage to vehicles, and witness statements.
- Police report – The police are considered to be another strong source of “objective” testimony, especially if they took a report at the scene of the crash. But just because a police report says you’re at fault does not necessarily mean that’s true.
- Expert testimony – Your attorney may call on other types of experts for traffic engineering or other types of analysis to prove your case.
Navigating the aftermath of a T-bone accident can be challenging, but understanding California’s T-bone laws, knowing what to do at the scene of the crash, and being aware of the factors involved in determining fault are essential to protecting your rights. To make matters worse, other drivers and insurance companies don’t usually have your best interests in mind.
If you’ve been wrongly blamed for a T-bone accident or if you were T-boned by another driver, it’s important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help protect your rights, gather evidence, negotiate with insurance companies, and represent you in court if necessary to make sure you receive fair compensation for your injuries and damages.
Click here to contact the experienced lawyers at Sepulveda Sanchez Law for your free consultation today. We work on a contingency fee so you don’t pay unless we win for you.