A T-bone accident, sometimes called a side-impact collision, happens when one motorist crashes into the side of another vehicle at a right angle. This accident can cause severe injuries to drivers, passengers, and property damage, especially if the impact occurs near the doors or windows. T-bone accidents could happen anywhere, but they are more common at intersections where drivers may fail to yield, run red lights, or make improper turns.

Determining the at-fault party in a California T-bone accident can be complicated. Fault depends on various factors, such as vehicle speed, traffic signals, or road conditions. Sometimes, the involved drivers may share responsibility for causing the accident. However, the driver who violated the traffic rules or failed to exercise reasonable care is liable for the collision.

If you are involved in a T-bone accident that someone else’s negligence caused, you can pursue compensation for your medical expenses, property damage, lost income, or pain and suffering. However, before the courts award you damages, you must prove that the other motorist was negligent and caused your injuries. Chasing compensation requires the help of a personal injury lawyer to gather evidence, including police reports, photos of the scene and vehicles involved, or medical records.

At the Orange County Personal Injury Attorney, we protect your rights after a T-bone accident. We can negotiate with the insurance adjusters and ensure you receive fair compensation for injuries you sustain. Contact us immediately if you or your loved one has suffered injuries that another motorist caused in a T-bone accident.

How T-Bone Accidents Happen

A T-bone accident happens when one vehicle crashes into the side of another, usually at a right angle, forming a shape that resembles the letter T. Major causes of these accidents include one driver failing to stop at an intersection, running a red light, making an improper turn, or driving recklessly.

T-bone accidents are considered dangerous because they expose the drivers and passengers to direct impact without much protection. Most vehicles' side doors and windows are not designed to withstand high-speed collisions and may collapse or shatter upon impact. This can result in serious injuries such as head trauma, brain damage, spinal cord injury, broken bones, or even death.

Four-Way Intersection

It is common for T-bone accidents to occur at four-way intersections, where two roads cross each other. At these intersections, drivers should follow the traffic signals and signs that indicate who has the right of way and who should yield or stop. However, some motorists ignore or violate these rules, which could cause a T-bone accident.

For example, you are driving at a green light and approaching an intersection where another road crosses yours. Another driver on that road faces a red light but decides to run it and make a left turn in front of you. You have little time to break, so you slam into the side of their vehicle.

 In this case, you would likely have the right of way, and the other driver would be at fault for causing the accident. Consult a personal injury lawyer to help determine who is liable for your T-bone accident at a four-way intersection and how to seek compensation for your damages.

Left Turn Across Oncoming Traffic

A T-bone accident could occur when a driver makes a left turn across oncoming traffic at an intersection. This can happen when the driver misjudges the speed or distance of the oncoming vehicle, fails to yield the right of way, runs a red light or a stop sign, or is distracted by something else.

The driver who makes the left turn may end up striking the side of the oncoming vehicle or being struck by it. In many cases, the motorist who makes the left turn is responsible for the T-bone accident because they have the duty to yield to oncoming traffic.

Backing Out of a Parking Space

A less common scenario where a T-bone accident occurs is when a driver backs out of a parking space in a parking lot. The accident can happen when the driver does not check their rearview mirror or blind spot, does not see another vehicle approaching from behind or from the side, or backs out too fast or too far. The driver who backs out may end up hitting or being hit by another motorist passing by.

According to California traffic laws, the driver who backed out is at fault for the T-bone accident. The driver has a duty to look out for other vehicles and pedestrians before reversing. The following are possible situations where the other driver shares responsibility for the accident:

  • When the other driver was speeding or driving recklessly in a parking lot. They may have increased their risk of a collision.
  • Poor lighting or visibility in a parking lot may have made seeing each other harder.
  • They might have acted reasonably if an obstruction or distraction prevented the motorist from noticing each other.

Running a Red Light or Stop Sign

A common cause of a T-bone accident in California is a driver running a red light or a stop sign at an intersection. This happens when the motorist is distracted, impaired, reckless, or hurried.

The driver who runs the red light or stop sign may end up colliding with another vehicle that has the right of way and is crossing the intersection legally. The driver who runs the red light or stop sign is at fault for the T-bone accident because they have violated California traffic laws and endangered other road users.


Failing to yield to another vehicle that has a right-of-way on the road happens when the at-fault driver does the following:

  • Fails to see or respect another vehicle’s priority.
  • Makes an unsafe turn or lane change.
  • Enters an intersection without checking for cross traffic.
  • Merges onto a highway without adjusting their speed.

Per California traffic laws, the at-fault driver fails to yield and may end up hitting or being hit by another vehicle with a legal right to proceed.

Who are the Responsible Parties in a T-Bone Accident?

Determining who is at fault for a T-bone accident can be challenging, especially if conflicting accounts or evidence exist. However, retaining a personal injury lawyer can help you identify the potentially liable parties and gather evidence to support your case. Possible at-fault parties include:

The Motorists Involved

Depending on the circumstances surrounding the crash, a driver could have acted negligently or recklessly by:

  • Running a red light or stop sign.
  • Failing to yield to another vehicle’s right-of-way.
  • Making an improper turn or lane change.
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Driving while distracted by phone, radio, or passengers.
  • Driving too fast for conditions or exceeding speed limits.
  • Driving without proper lights or signals.

If you prove that the driver was at fault for the accident, you could recover compensation from their insurance company or personal assets. However, you may also face some challenges, such as:

  • The driver may deny responsibility or blame you for the accident.
  • The driver may have insufficient insurance coverage or no insurance at all.
  • The driver may have left the accident scene without providing their information.

All involved drivers could share fault for the accident, for example, if they were distracted or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The Auto Manufacturer

The vehicle manufacturer or its component auto parts maker could be liable when multiple vehicles involved in a T-bone collision had defective parts that contributed to the crash. These faults include faulty brakes, a defective accelerator, damaged airbags, or faulty steering. The vehicle manufacturer may have legal liability for making and selling a bad part that caused or worsened the accident.

 Retaining a lawyer could save you from losing your claim if the vehicle manufacturer denies responsibility, especially if they recalled the defective part but you were unaware of it. A lawyer can help you investigate the accident to determine if a mechanical failure or defective part contributed to the collision. Also, they can work with experts to analyze the accident and identify any potential defects or malfunctions that may have caused or contributed to it.

Another Driver

A third party could be liable for a T-bone accident. This is the other driver who was not directly involved in the collision but whose actions contributed to it. A side-impact crash can happen when a third driver does the following:

  • Cuts off one of the drivers involved in the accident.
  • Forces one of the drivers to swerve or brake suddenly.
  • Distracts one of the drivers with honking, flashing lights, or gestures.
  • Causes a chain reaction or multiple-vehicle crash.

In such a scenario, you want to have an experienced personal injury lawyer, regardless of who is found to be at fault for the accident.

What Makes T-Bone Accidents Uniquely Dangerous

According to statistics from 2020, side-impact car collisions accounted for 23% of all traffic crash fatalities in the United States, resulting in 8,975 deaths out of 38,680 total fatalities. This makes side-impact collisions the second-most deadly type of crash after frontal collisions (56%). The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that in car-to-car side impacts, the fatality risk for passengers is 85% when the speed is 65 km/h or 40 mph.

T-bone accidents are considered dangerous for several reasons, including:

  1. Compared to head-on or rear-end collisions, T-bone accidents offer less protection for the occupants of the vehicles involved. The sides of most vehicles have less space and structure to absorb and distribute the impact force than the front or rear ends. This means the occupants are more likely to suffer serious injuries or death from blunt force trauma, such as head, neck, chest, abdominal, pelvic, or spinal cord injuries.
  2. Modern cars are designed to act differently during a collision depending on where the impact occurs. For example, most cars have crumple zones that deform and change shape on impact to reduce the crash energy and protect the cabin where the occupants are seated. Most cars also have airbags deployed in front or rear-end collisions to cushion the occupants from hitting hard surfaces inside the car. However, not all cars have side airbags or side crumple zones that can provide similar protection in T-bone accidents.
  3. The severity of injuries in T-bone accidents depends on several factors, such as the speed and weight of the vehicles involved, the location and angle of the impact, and the safety features and conditions of the vehicles. For example, a T-bone accident involving a large truck hitting a small car on its driver’s side at high speed is likely to cause more damage and injury than a T-bone accident involving two similar-sized cars hitting each other on their passenger sides at low speed.

Proving Who Was at Fault in Your T-Bone Crash

If you are injured in a T-bone crash, you could receive compensation from the driver who caused the accident. However, you must first show the court that the other driver was liable for the collision. You must demonstrate that the other driver was negligent or reckless and that fact caused your injuries and damages.

You must gather evidence supporting your claim to prove fault in a T-bone car crash. Evidence required could include:

  • Photos and videos of the accident scene, the vehicles involved, and your injuries.
  • Witness statements and contact information.
  • Police report.
  • Medical records and bills.
  • Vehicle repair estimates and receipts.
  • Lost income documentation.
  • Expert opinions and testimony.

The evidence-gathering process starts at the accident scene and continues after you leave it. Below are some steps to follow to collect evidence for your T-bone car crash case:

It Starts at the Scene of the Accident

At the accident scene, you should exchange information with the other driver(s) involved in the crash. The information could include the following:

  • Name.
  • Address.
  • Phone number.
  • Driver’s license number.
  • License plate number.
  • Insurance company name and policy number.

You should also talk to witnesses who saw the accident or stopped to help. You should ask them what they saw, how they saw it, and where they were when the accident happened. You should also get their names, phone numbers, and addresses to contact them later.

What Not to Do at the Accident Scene

You should avoid doing some things at the accident scene because they can compromise your case or make it harder to prove fault. These include:

  • Admitting fault or apologizing for the accident

Even if you think you may have been partly responsible for the crash, you should not say anything that could be used against you later by the other driver’s insurance company or lawyer. You may not know all the facts or all the laws that apply to your case. Let an experienced personal injury lawyer handle the negotiations for you.

  • Arguing with the other driver or witnesses

Engaging in a heated argument with anyone on the scene can escalate the situation and make things worse. Arguments can also damage your credibility as a witness or plaintiff. You should remain calm and polite but firm and avoid any unnecessary confrontation. If someone is being aggressive or abusive toward you, call 911 for help.

  • Leaving the scene without reporting the accident

If you leave before the police arrive or without exchanging information with the other driver(s), you may break the law and face criminal charges for hit-and-run. You may also lose valuable evidence that could support your claim. You should always report any accident that causes injury, death, or property damage to the police immediately.

Gathering Evidence at the Scene of the Accident

Taking photos and videos with your smartphone or camera is a good way to gather evidence at the scene of an accident. You should take pictures of the following:

  • The surrounding area near the accident scene. This includes street signs, traffic lights, road markings, and nearby landmarks.
  • The damage to both vehicles involved in the crash, including their relative positions and any skid marks or debris on the road.
  • The injuries sustained by yourself and anyone else involved in the crash, including cuts, bruises, broken bones, or bleeding wounds.
  • The weather conditions during the accident. These include rain, snow, fog, or sun glare.

You should also note down any important details about the accident, such as:

  • The date, time, and place of the accident.
  • Both vehicles' direction, speed, and actions before, during, and after crashing.
  • The names, badge numbers, and contact information of police officers who responded to the scene.
  • The names, phone numbers, and insurance information of tow truck drivers who removed your vehicle from the Scene.

Gathering Evidence After Leaving the Scene

After leaving the scene, you should continue gathering evidence for your case by:

  • Seeking Medical Attention As Soon As Possible For Any Injuries Sustained In The Crash

You should follow your doctor’s instructions and recommendations and keep a record of all your medical visits, treatments, prescriptions, and expenses. You should also document how your injuries affect your daily life, such as your ability to work, perform household chores, or enjoy hobbies and activities.

  • Contacting A Personal Injury Lawyer Who Specializes In T-Bone Car Crash Cases

A lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and options, evaluate your claim, negotiate with the other driver’s insurance company or lawyer, and represent you in court if necessary. A lawyer can help you by:

  • Investigating the accident scene and collecting relevant information, such as police reports, witness statements, photos, videos, and physical evidence.
  • Analyzing the traffic laws and rules of the road that apply to your situation and identifying any violations or negligence by any party involved.
  • Consulting with experts who can reconstruct the accident and provide opinions on causation, liability, and damages.
  • Negotiating with insurance companies and other parties on your behalf to seek a fair settlement that covers your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses.
  • Representing you in court to prove your claim and defend your rights.

Keep all the evidence you have collected in a safe place. You should not throw away or alter any evidence supporting your claim. You should also only share evidence with your lawyer or anyone they authorize.

  • Evidence You Must Have for Your Case

Some evidence is essential for proving fault in a T-bone car crash case. These include:

  • The police report. The police report summarizes the facts and circumstances of the accident. It may also contain information about who was at fault for the crash based on the officer’s observations and investigation. The police report can be used as evidence to support your claim or to challenge the other driver’s version of events.
  • The witness statements. Witness statements are testimonies from people who saw or heard the accident or were involved. Witnesses can provide crucial details about what happened before, during, and after the crash that photos or videos may not capture. Witness statements can also corroborate or contradict your statement or the other driver’s.
  • The medical records and bills. Medical records and bills show the extent and severity of your injuries and how much they cost you to treat them. Medical records and bills can prove that you were injured in the accident and suffered damages.

Find a Personal Injury Attorney Near Me

If you have been involved in a T-bone accident, there is a dire need to understand the liability and damages that could arise from the accident. The causes of T-bone accidents are discussed above, including running red lights, failing to yield the right-of-way, and backing out of a parking space.

With the help of a personal injury lawyer, you can navigate the legal process and receive the justice and compensation you deserve. At the Orange County Personal Injury Attorney, we can help you determine the liable party and guide you through the legal process. We have attorneys experienced in T-bone accidents to ensure you receive the best representation possible.

If you have been involved in a T-bone accident, remember that time is of the essence. So make sure to call us at 714-876-1959. With our help, you can receive the compensation you deserve and start to move forward from the accident.