T-bone truck accidents are one of the most hazardous crashes on our roads. Any collision can be dangerous, but the nature of T-bone crashes heightens the risk of severe injuries, especially on the smaller vehicle’s occupants.
As the name suggests, a T-bone accident, also known as a side-impact truck collision, involves a crash whereby one vehicle’s front end rams into the side of another. A truck may hit a car on the side, or the smaller vehicle may ram into the side of the truck. Whatever the case, the impact is usually disastrous.
For instance, if the truck hits the car, there’s little protection for car occupants only the door and window. On the other hand, if the car hits the truck on the side, it absorbs the force of the collision, which means the entire truck’s weight. Here we are talking about over 80,000 pounds, against the car’s few thousand pounds. As a result, people who have T-bone truck collisions are more likely to get hurt.
If you experienced a T-bone truck accident and were injured, the financial burden can overwhelm you. As such, you have a right to receive compensation for the damage you have sustained–property and personal injury.
What Causes T-Bone Accidents?
T-bone truck crashes result from various scenarios. Sometimes, either a crashing driver, another car, or a mechanical failure may cause the accident.
In most cases, the accidents occur on intersections, though they can still occur anywhere. For instance, when a car loses control or skids and stands in the way of an oncoming truck.
Generally, many factors can cause these types of collisions. If you or your loved one has been in a T-bone truck crash, here are the probable reasons that may have caused the accident.
#1. Vehicle Mechanical Failure
While human error causes most T-bone truck accidents, some occur due to mechanical failures, such as faulty brakes or steering wheels.
#2. Distracted Driving
The accident could also have resulted from distracted driving. Either the truck driver, another at-fault motorist, or you could have gotten distracted, making it hard to stop and give way to the other vehicle.
Probably, the distracted driver was texting or talking on the phone, grooming, eating, or zoned out for whatever reasons. Or they could have checked the GPS (especially in unfamiliar areas), losing sight of the intersection and oncoming traffic.
#3. Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
The at-fault driver might also have been driving under the influence when the accident occurred. Intoxicating substances impairs one’s judgment, making controlling the vehicle challenging. Sometimes it can make them reckless, like ignoring general traffic rules.
In this case, if the at-fault driver was impaired, they might have driven through sections where they ought to have stopped.
#4. Poor Weather
Rainy and snowy weather is also responsible for a substantial number of T-bone truck accidents. Navigating extreme weather conditions is challenging for motorists, especially truck drivers, thanks to the vehicles’ heavy weight.
If the roads were too slippery, compromising traction, the truck driver might have lost control, crashing into your car. Smaller vehicles can also lose traction during wet weather. So it could have been the other way round–you or another driver lost control of the car, causing the collision.
Also, the at-fault driver might have been over-speeding. As a result, they may have run a stop sign, failed to give right of way on an intersection, or braked suddenly and lost control of the vehicle leading to the crash.
While over-speeding is dangerous no matter the vehicle type, the danger is higher in HGVs (heavy goods vehicles) since braking requires more time due to their heavy nature.
#6. Driver Fatigue
Driver fatigue is another common cause of T-bone truck accidents. Either of the drivers in the crash could have been exhausted, making it hard for them to drive safely. Usually, fatigue slows one’s reflexes, affecting their response time.
Other times, an exhausted driver may sleep on the wheel. Even dozing off for a second, especially near an intersection or a corner, can lead to a disastrous crash.
Generally, trucks require more time to brake. If the truck driver was fatigued, they might have applied brakes too late, hence could not avoid hitting your car. Or it could be vice versa. You or another at-fault driver might have been exhausted, slowing your response where you needed to stop.
How Do T-Bone Accidents Happen?
As earlier mentioned, T-bone crashes can happen either way the truck may hit your car, or your car may ram into the HGV.
Generally, the accident may have happened from:
- Failing to stop – The at-fault driver may have failed to brake in time.
- Misjudging oncoming traffic – The collision may have been due to poor judgment, whereby one motorist (either the truck or small vehicle driver) underestimated the distance of the other vehicle, lacking sufficient time to get out of their way.
- Failing to drive for the weather – If it was too wet and the at-fault driver was driving at the normal speed, they could have lost control of the vehicle. Or, if the weather was foggy, it could have hindered their visibility.
- Running a red light – The accident could have resulted from the at-fault driver trying to beat a red light. Or it could be the truck driver was speeding and didn’t have adequate time to brake at a red light, thereby crashing into you.
- Failing to grant the right of way – Either the truck driver or you could have refused to grant the right of way at an intersection, causing the collision.
Types of Injuries From T-Bone Truck Accidents
Injuries from a T-bone truck accident range from mild to severe, depending on the degree of the impact. If the colliding vehicles were moving at low speed, the injuries might not be as life-threatening as when speeding.
Generally, the crash might have resulted in any of these injuries:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Fractures and broken bones
- Soft tissue injuries
- Head and neck injuries
- Internal organ damage
What to Do After a T-Bone Truck Accident?
T-bone accidents do not always result in serious damage. If you have minor injuries and can get out of your car and move around, here is what you ought to do.
#1. Evaluate the Injuries
Immediately after the accident, you should examine yourself for injuries. After the impact, the adrenaline may run high for a while, masking pain and any invisible injuries.
If your injuries are serious, call for medical help immediately, but if they are not, ensure you still visit a doctor the same day for a thorough examination. Also, check on your passengers and other motorists and ascertain they are safe. If anyone needs immediate medical help, arrange for it.
#2. Stay out of Traffic
If your vehicle is obstructing traffic, get it out of the way. If the car cannot move, or you can’t push it, request help to get the car to a safe spot.
#3. Call the Police
The law requires drivers to report a crash to the police immediately if anyone is hurt or there is significant property damage. Besides adhering to the law, reporting the accident is essential as the police report can leverage your evidence when seeking compensation.
#4. Collect Information and Document Evidence
As you wait for the police, ensure you collect the necessary information and document any relevant evidence. For instance, you need to get the personal details, insurance information, and license details of the other driver(s). If any witnesses are present, request their contacts and arrange to get in touch later.
On the same note, take photos or video of your injuries, the vehicles, their damage, the surrounding area, any skid marks, etc.
#5. Seek Medical Report
After giving the police your report and collecting the necessary evidence and information, arrange a medical check-up.
Remember to note down any symptoms or pain you experience throughout the treatment period, however mild, and share it with the doctor. This gives the doctor a clear understanding of your injuries to make the necessary diagnosis.
Also, as you undergo treatment, remember to keep all the records (doctor’s report, medical bills, and any other relevant costs you incur) preferably in a file, as they will be handy evidence when you file a compensation claim.
#6. Call a Truck Accident Attorney
Vehicle accident claims are complex. Between managing your treatment and recovering, you need expert help in handling the complexities of the legal process. Besides, having a lawyer as early as possible is crucial. They can counsel you on how to handle the process, including obtaining evidence like requesting any available accident CCTV recordings before the camera owners delete the footage.
#7. Notify Your Insurance
Even if you were not responsible for the accident, you should notify your insurer that your car has crashed. This prepares them to fight the at-fault driver’s insurance company in case they pin the blame on you. Also, if your injuries are severe, exhausting the other driver’s cover limit, you may need to use your insurance to cater to the medical and other costs.
#8. Inform the At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Company
Finally, inform the at-fault driver’s insurer that their policyholder has crashed into your car, resulting in injuries and car damage. Your lawyer will also gather the relevant information, make computations for the losses, and prepare a demand letter, which you will send to the at-fault driver’s insurance company when the time is right.
Who Is At-Fault in a T-Bone Truck Accident?
Anyone can be liable for a T-bone accident. This could be the truck driver, another motorist, the vehicle manufacturer or mechanic for faulty parts or substandard repairs, government authorities for not maintaining the road, etc. In some cases, many parties could be at fault.
While you have a right to demand compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company, you or your passengers can also file a claim to your insurer. In no-fault states, the law requires motorists to have personal injury protection (PIP), which protects you and your passengers no matter who was at fault for the accident.
Note that possessing PIP does not give the at-fault driver’s insurer an excuse to deny your claim. They still have a duty to compensate for your damages fully. In case you are not responsible for the accident and use your PIP, your insurer may still pursue the at-fault driver’s insurance company to recover their money.
Damages Paid in a T-Bone Truck Accident
The compensation you stand to earn depends on the nature and extent of damages. Some possible rewards include:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Current and future lost wages
- Property damages
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Physical disfigurement or impairment
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Potentially shortened lifespan
- Loss of consortium
Wrongful Death Damages
If you lost a loved one through a T-bone truck accident, you could recover wrongful death damages, also classified as economic and non-economic.
- Medical expenses before death
- Funeral and burial costs
- Support for dependents
- Emotional distress for family members, etc.
Why You Need a Truck Accident Lawyer
T-bone accidents result in life-altering injuries. If you have been in one, you should get fair compensation to help you cope with your condition. While the settlement cannot take away your pain or wish away your situation, it should allow you to remain in the financial state you would have enjoyed had the accident not happened.
Hiring a lawyer may not guarantee you compensation, but it enhances your chances of receiving a fair settlement compared to pursuing the claim on your own. An attorney is invaluable for navigating the T-bone truck accident compensation process.
Some of their roles include:
- Helping you develop evidence for a stronger case
- Cautioning you about legal pitfalls that might compromise your claim
- Counseling you on how to navigate the proceedings
- Computing and lodging the claim
- Filing a lawsuit and representing you if the claim does not settle
Whether you are the victim or are seeking justice for a loved one and do not have an attorney, hiring one will be incredibly beneficial.