T-bone crashes happen almost exclusively at intersections. Phoenix has quite a few of them. The city ranks third in all U.S. cities in total fatalities on the roads. This, in no small part, is due to the number of dangerous intersections and reckless or negligent drivers who do not take reasonable care at them. The city does not invest nearly enough in intersection safety.
Statistics About T-Bone Car Crashes
In Arizona, roughly 15 percent of car crashes occur at an angle. Another 17 percent of accidents happen when a driver turns left. Many of these accidents are T-bone crashes. Nationally, nearly one in five car accident fatalities happen in a T-bone car crash.
T-bone car accidents are among the most dangerous crashes for many reasons:
- Both drivers do not anticipate the crash, so neither tries to slow down to avoid it.
- One driver is hitting the other car head-on, while the other may suffer a hit on the driver’s side.
- The vehicle often collapses into the passenger compartment.
- One driver usually drives recklessly, and these accidents have a much higher fatality and serious injury rate.
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Particular Risks of T-Bone Crashes in Phoenix
The Phoenix area has unique risks that make these crashes even more prevalent and deadly. T-bone crashes often occur at intersections and stop signs, when one driver has the right of way, and the other must stop. Since Phoenix was designed and built as a car mecca, there are quite a few heavy traffic intersections in the area that see tens of thousands of cars each day.
These intersections have long lights, and some drivers are impatient enough that they are willing to take chances to avoid missing them. The busy intersection and drivers in a hurry raise the risks of a crash. For example, there was a September 2021T-bone crash in North Phoenix that sent four people to the hospital. One person had life-threatening injuries.
Because of the expansive road network in Phoenix, drivers can travel at a higher speed. Many drive recklessly, and they approach intersections at higher speeds. Since speeds are higher, some drivers may misjudge the speed of oncoming vehicles in traffic.
Liability Rules in T-Bone Crashes
The general rule in any car accident is that you are entitled to financial compensation if you can prove that the other driver was negligent. In any negligence case, the focus is on what both drivers were doing at the time of the accident. The requirement is that you show that the other driver acted unreasonably under the circumstances. Reasonable drivers obey traffic laws and yield when other drivers have the right of way. They do not run red lights or stop signs.
T-bone accidents should never happen. Two cars traveling in different directions should not occupy the same space at the same time. Usually, it is one of the two drivers alone who is at fault and, sometimes, the difficulty is in figuring out which one made the error. Each one may have their own story, and a lawyer can get to the bottom of what really happened.
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Most T-Bone Crashes Happen Because of Negligence
The general rule in car crashes is that the driver who makes the impact with the front of their car is the one responsible for the crash. This rule does not always hold in T-bone car crashes. A driver may hit another car when that other car does not have the legal right to be in the space. Then, the driver who made the impact will not be at fault. In T-bone cases, the driver who failed to yield the right of way should be legally responsible for the damages.
One study found that 96 percent of T-bone accidents were the direct result of a driver error. The most common mistake that causes a T-bone accident is that a driver ran a red light or a stop sign. In this case, the driver who committed the traffic violation will be at fault, even if they were the one hit by the other car.
Police should show up at the scene after the crash. They may issue a traffic citation based on either admissions or witness testimony. If the driver pleads guilty to the traffic ticket, the conviction can help prove a civil case.
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Proving Fault in a T-Bone Crash
If there are no witnesses to a crash at a stop sign, it is harder to prove fault. The responsible driver may deny that they ran the stop sign and try to blame the other driver. If the police do not give a ticket to one of the drivers, you need eyewitness testimony to show who ran the stop sign.
Pictures of the accident scene and analysis of the crash damage can also prove what happened. You must call an attorney right after this type of crash to prove fault. Otherwise, the passage of time can cause you to lose valuable evidence your legal case needs.
It may be easier to prove fault when the T-bone crash happened at a red light. Here, traffic camera footage or witnesses may have seen the crash, especially when it happened at a busy intersection instead of a stop sign in a residential neighborhood. If your accident happened in a high-traffic area, the chances are that people saw it. Their names and contact information may be on the police report, and your attorney can follow up with them.
Why Drivers Cause T-Bone Accidents
There are other reasons why drivers are at fault for a T-bone crash. Some may simply not be paying attention. They can run the red light or stop sign because they looked down at their phone instead of ahead of them. Distracted driving is increasing, and stricter laws and education campaigns are not much competition with the lure of texting and social media while driving. Texting while driving is even more of a problem at stop signs when drivers often must look carefully to spot them.
Some drivers may be trying to turn when they do not have an unobstructed view of the intersection. Usually, this is the driver’s fault. They should only turn after they look and see no oncoming traffic heading towards them. These drivers need to correctly judge the speed of the oncoming vehicle before they turn. However, if the other driver was speeding, it will be far more difficult to gauge its speed.
Phoenix is one of the most dangerous cities in the entire country for left-hand turns. The sheer traffic volume means more accidents and more severe crashes.
Who Is at Fault Depends on the Facts
Liability for T-bone crashes that happen during turns all depends on the facts and circumstances of the accident. These are accidents where each driver may try to blame the other. If you do not have a lawyer gathering evidence and arguing your side of the story, you have legal risk. Not only will you not receive financial compensation, but you may also end up responsible for someone else’s damages. Never try to handle your own T-bone accident case, no matter what you think happened.
The Insurance Company May Try to Blame You for the Accident
In a T-bone crash, there is a possibility that a driver who was clearly at fault may try to argue that you bear some blame. They may try to focus on your speed. For example, if they ran a red light but you were speeding through the intersection, they may try to argue that you are partially at fault. Usually, the driver who runs a red light or stop sign will bear the blame. Regardless, Arizona law still allows for financial recovery, even if you were partly to blame for the accident. Hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer is one way to keep the insurance company from trying to reduce your compensation by erroneously trying to blame you.
Other Possible Defendants in a T-Bone Accident Lawsuit
In rare cases, someone else other than one of the two drivers caused the T-bone accident.
Other possible defendants in a T-bone car crash who might be at fault (in rarer cases) are:
- A government entity – remember that we said that limited visibility at an intersection is a cause of T-bone crashes. This can be the fault of the road design, giving you possible lawsuit grounds against the government responsible for the road.
- A restaurant or bar – if drunk driving caused the crash, the establishment that served a visibly intoxicated patron can be responsible for the crash under Arizona’s dram shop laws. This is a way to add another defendant and insurance policy to your claim.
- A car or parts manufacturer – some cases may be caused by defective cars or car parts, such as brakes or tires. Then, your case will be a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer and seller.
However, most car accident cases will find one or both of the drivers at fault. You may find yourself in a case where it is your word against the other driver’s unless your accident happened in a busier area where the party who ran the stop sign or red light is very clear. This is dangerous territory because you can end with payment only for your medical bills and property damage under your own policy, as opposed to the full range of personal injury damages when someone else is responsible.
Why You Need an Attorney in a T-Bone Accident Case
One of your first calls (or family calling on behalf of an injured loved one) should be to an experienced car accident attorney. It does not matter that liability seems clear. First, once the insurance company finishes with its normal tricks, nothing is ever as clear as it seems in a car accident case. Second, your greatest challenge is often getting full and reasonable financial compensation for your car accident injuries.
Auto insurance companies may readily concede liability in your case, but that is only the start of the legal process. Since T-bone accident injuries tend to be more serious, you may be dealing with a claim that has higher damages. The insurance company never wants to write a check that is large enough to pay you what you deserve. Even after you prove liability, you must still negotiate a settlement.
Damages in a T-Bone Accident Claim
You may recover these damages in a T-bone car accident crash:
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Medical bills
- Emotional trauma
Depending on the severity of your injuries, these damages can be considerable. You only get one chance to get paid for your accident injuries.
Wrongful Death Claims After an Accident
If your loved one died in a T-bone crash, your family can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible driver. This lawsuit will pay your family back for what they lost when your loved one died. These lawsuits can result in considerable compensation, which can be even higher depending on whether your loved one was working and had children. You might recover wages that your loved one would have earned had they lived and kept working. You might also receive payment for losing a loving relationship with your family member.
The insurance company does not get the final say over your settlement check. If the insurer is not willing to pay you enough, you can file a lawsuit in civil court. Our attorneys are here to look out for your legal rights and fight for top dollar for your T-bone accident injuries. If you do not fight for yourself, you cannot count on getting fair compensation for your injuries.