T-bone accidents, also called broadside collisions, involve the front end of one vehicle striking the side of another vehicle, or vice versa. These accidents have the name T-bone collision because after the accident occurs, the vehicles form the shape of a T.
As technical as it sounds, T-bones present a very serious accident scenario that may have happened to you recently in Tampa, Florida. T-bone accidents can result in multiple fatalities, especially if the accident involves the driver’s side. Even the person striking the side of the other car can end up going through the windshield based on each vehicle’s speed.
Those, like you, who manage to survive a T-bone accident, often come out of it with very serious injuries. Who bears liability in an accident like this?
Let’s look at the legal details and why you need legal representation to prove the at-fault party’s liability.
How Did Your T-Bone Accident Happen?
A T-bone accident typically happens at intersections where a car broadsides you due to running a red light or stop sign. While intersections constitute the most typical place for these types of accidents, they can happen virtually anywhere within the city.
Any type of road with cross-traffic can potentially cause a T-bone accident sooner or later. The higher the speed when it happens (as in highways), the worse injuries that usually result.
Your T-bone crash perhaps happened at one of the many busy intersections here in Tampa. For instance, the intersection of Sheldon Road and Waters Avenue has a reputation for posing particular danger.
Our city has turned into one of the worst cities in America for intersection accidents, and we frequently hear about T-bone accidents that occur at the aforementioned intersection.
Who really caused your accident, though? Determining fault in T-bone car accidents takes considerable investigation that a personal injury attorney can help with.
Who Had The Right Of Way?
Following an accident, you should first prioritize getting a medical evaluation of any possible injuries. After that, you should consider retaining legal counsel. Once you find a personal injury attorney to represent you, your attorney will go to work finding the details and evidence you need to prove your case.
It starts with your attorney visiting the scene of the accident. What physical evidence still exists that you can use to determine who caused the accident? Your car accident lawyer will attempt to interview any eyewitnesses, including requesting any video they took on their smartphones. Thanks to mobile devices, personal video footage can help determine accident liability.
Traffic cameras here in Tampa also help. Fortunately, many exist in all our busy intersections and other roadways. Your attorney can easily acquire the footage because the cameras film in public areas.
This evidence and any physical remnants from the T-bone crash can help determine who bears liability. The challenge comes in situations of comparative fault where multiple people can sometimes bear responsibility for an accident.
Sometimes, the defendant and the plaintiff battle it out over who had the right of way. Figuring out who really had the right of way in the intersection will determine who initiated the crash.
Comparative Fault Law In Florida
Many states throughout the country follow the legal doctrine of comparative fault, including Florida. As a result, determining liability for a T-bone car accident sometimes involves multiple people.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you bear liability. However, you may share a small percentage of fault for a T-bone accident and still get a settlement from someone who shares the majority of the blame.
One example would include driving while distracted, which may lead to you driving into the intersection with an oncoming car. At the same time, the person who T-boned you perhaps ran a red light first, leading to that party sharing the majority of negligence.
Balancing comparative fault will involve investigating the evidence. Your attorney digs deep into the evidence available to see who shares the share of responsibility.
Video evidence certainly helps. However, other evidence from your side determines whether you’re really the victim rather than sharing the blame for your injuries.
Who shares the majority of blame in maintaining a duty of safety determines comparative fault. When on the road, we all share that same responsibility of safety toward fellow drivers.
Your Medical Bills As Proof Of Negligence
Your car accident attorney works hard to find the right evidence to prove your case, and that includes your medical bills. Your medical records may represent the most compelling aspects of proof about your injuries. Considering these records will include all injuries or medical procedures you’ve had done related to your injuries, you can use these to prove the seriousness of your condition.
Most important of all, your medical bills and records show what lies ahead for you. Painting a picture of your future determines how much of a settlement you need to live the rest of your life in peace.
These medical records also serve as a good indicator of who really bears liability for your car accident. Specific X-rays or scans often show the strength of the impact from the T-bone crash when hit from the driver’s side.
To gather these medical records, you need to acquire them yourself or let your attorney obtain them for you. When you allow your attorney to gather them, they will go into safekeeping at the law firm. If your case goes to trial, these records will become very valuable when presenting your medical facts to a jury.
The Intangible Evidence
Other aspects of evidence may also show that the other driver bears complete responsibility for the accident. Intangible evidence can help prove the pain and suffering you’ll go through in future years due to your injuries.
The mental side of injuries doesn’t receive enough attention, unfortunately. An ethical personal injury attorney addresses this to the insurance adjuster or a jury during a trial.
Your future mental suffering from your injuries and your altered life play a strong factor in showing the other driver’s negligence. One quick lapse in judgment by another driver can, unfortunately, change your life forever.
Along with your future mental suffering taken into consideration, your attorney addresses the financial duress you’ll likely experience. Any inability to work soon or ever again means you likely qualify for a sizable payout from the insurance company or directly from the negligent driver.
Proving you can’t work again due to physical injury also helps your attorney seek disability benefits for you from Social Security.
The Negotiation Process With Insurance
Next come negotiations with the defendant’s insurance company. All insurance companies maintain allegiance to their clients and shareholders. Based on that, it means they’ll do everything they can to minimize the injuries you face.
The insurance company will try to refute your claims based on the evidence your attorney presents. Insurance representatives often use Florida’s comparative negligence laws to lower your settlement by attempting to make it look like you bear partial liability for the accident.
Before they do that, insurance companies may attempt to contact you and have you settle for a small amount. It’s a common practice for insurance companies to avoid the time and expense of going to trial.
This procedure may seem unethical since it preys on vulnerable, injured victims who have financial issues due to medical bills. Don’t fall for this; instead, avoid taking any first settlement offer given to you. Ultimately, you deserve so much more, especially when the evidence shows your injuries may affect your life long-term.
Let your attorney work with the insurance company on negotiating a settlement. It does take time and could take longer when the insurance adjuster insists that the insured party doesn’t bear full liability.
What happens if the insurance company stays steadfast in not offering you a settlement to cover the full cost of your injuries? Everything may shift to a trial, something that could benefit you.
The Option Of A Trial
Keep in mind that trials can prove lengthy. In many cases, injured individuals will need to file a lawsuit and take it to trial to tell their stories to real people on a jury and not a judge or insurance representative. Those who understand and sympathize with what you’re going through can make a big difference in landing increased compensation.
Another positive aspect of a trial includes being able to present more detailed evidence that proves you don’t bear any liability for the accident. Of course, the defendant’s insurance company will likely say otherwise.
It’s here where every piece of evidence you have available offers proof of your side. Before a trial starts, this may mean your attorney acquiring more evidence from the scene or gathering more of your medical bills.
A jury has to decide in the end who really shares the percentage of blame in the T-bone accident. Your attorney will likely present information about the nature of the T-bone during a trial.
For instance, arguments might come up about the timing of the street light that turned red just as the defendant raced through the intersection. Sometimes, comparing the time of the T-bone accident with the automated timing of the traffic light determines exactly who did what first.
A defensive argument from the defendant’s insurance company may also include arguing that the car had defective parts. Should any proof exist of this, it means the potential to use the comparative fault angle from the defendant’s side.
Several parties may share the blame in this type of situation, including a maintenance crew and the manufacturer of the car. Both bear partial responsibility for installing or neglecting faulty brakes. On the other hand, the negligent driver also shares responsibility for not having the brakes checked before going out on the road.
Using comparative fault as a legal maneuver, you might receive a settlement from multiple parties. During a trial, a court may determine that the driver, a car repair company, and the car manufacturer all share collective blame.
Once again, your evidence determines the payout you receive in the end from one insurance company or several. Your attorney likely has a case results page that shows the kind of settlements he or she has received for past clients.
You should never expect a certain amount, even if you feel certain that you don’t bear any liability for your T-bone accident. All cases involve different facts and circumstances.
You may receive more or less than what’s typical, but always keep a positive attitude about your outcome. Most insurance companies do settle eventually if you have evidence at least proving your injuries.
What about the driver who caused the accident? The story doesn’t always end with a settlement from the insurance company.
Suing For Punitive Damages
Perhaps the evidence in your T-bone accident shows that the driver engaged in particularly egregious actions. Some of these accidents often involve drunk driving or general driving distractions.
Those particular actions constitute grounds for seeking punitive damages. Known as exemplary damages, courts award punitive damages to punish defendants for particularly poor behavior and to discourage similar behavior in the future.
Punitive damages involve additional compensation beyond economic and non-economic damages. Doing so may involve another trial to prove just how negligently the driver really acted. Any toxicology reports showing that the driver took drugs or drank alcohol before driving may lead to punitive damages.
Just remember that since you’re suing the at-fault party directly, whether you recover any compensation will depend on that party’s financial condition.
As much as Tampa officials continue to try to prevent T-bone accidents (and other car accidents) from happening, they continue to occur every day. Part of that stems from reckless driving and too many speed limit violations.
Get Legal Help Now!
Contact an experienced Tampa car accident attorney if you sustained serious injuries in a T-bone accident. You want an attorney with experience handling these types of accidents and a record of successfully recovering compensation for injured clients.
You’ll have peace of mind working with a knowledgeable legal team pursuing justice and compensation on your behalf. However, Florida law only provides injured individuals with four years from the date of their accidents to file a claim, so time is of the essence. Contact an attorney today to get started on your legal claim.