A car accident can upset many activities in your life, not to mention the injuries you or your loved one might suffer. These car accidents vary in severity depending on the type of car accident.
Side impact accidents are a type of accident that can leave you with significant losses (both tangible and intangible ones). You could lose your loved ones, your health, job, salary, earning capacity, and finances as you recover from the accident.
Fortunately, you can recover compensation for your losses with the help of Orange County Personal Injury Attorney. We help clients in fighting for their rights in court or through negotiations, especially where another person contributed to your injuries or losses.
Overview of Side Impact Collisions
A side-impact collision might not seem like much compared to a head-on collision. However, these accidents contribute to about 24% of all the traffic crashes. That means more than 8,500 people die every year due to these types of accidents throughout the county.
A side-impact collision or a T-bone accident is one of the common types of car accidents. It occurs when one car crashes into the side of another vehicle. The angle of the collision usually differs in every case. However, these collisions can be the cause of severe and life-threatening injuries.
You can be involved in one of two forms of side-impact collisions. The first type is a side swiping accident. Sideswipe accidents occur when the sides of two cars collide. They are common when drivers merge lanes without being careful. Most of the sideswiping accidents are less severe and have fewer injuries because the cars are usually at slower speeds. However, they may lead to spinning, loss of control, or collisions, which can aggravate the circumstances and lead to injuries.
Another type of side impact accidents is broadside or T-bone accidents. These accidents occur when the front or rear of a car collides with the side of another car, usually when moving at high speeds.
These dangerous accidents cause extensive property damage and injuries. The impact of the accident might be reduced if the car has side safety systems such as side airbags.
Side impact accidents are common due to:
- Failure to stop at a stop sign or a red light
- Distracted driving
- Illegal passing
- Aggressive driving
- Illegal passing
- Poor weather conditions
- Inattentiveness when making a turn
- Failing to yield
Side impact crashes have a higher impact due to the reduced distance between the passenger and the side of the car. The sides of a car have reduced crumple zones, and transfer the impact of the crash to the victims.
The impact of the crash also depends on the size of the vehicles involved. For instance, a truck that crashed into a passenger car is likely to cause more severe injuries than two trucks that collide.
The common injuries include:
- Traumatic bone injuries
- Head injuries
- Cuts from shattered glass
- Neck injuries such as whiplash
- Back and spinal injuries including nerve damage, herniated discs, and paralysis
- Soft tissue injuries
The injuries you suffer from the accident might be influenced by factors such as:
- Your position in the vehicle - If you are next to the side that is struck, then you are more likely to suffer severe injuries
- Your age - Children are at a greater risk of injury in side-impact collisions
- Use of restraints - Wearing seatbelts, booster seats for children and car seats for infants can reduce the overall impact of the accident
In severe cases of side-impact crashes, people could die as a direct result of the accident or from the injuries. In such cases, the family or estate of the deceased will have to sue on behalf of the deceased.
What to Do If You are Injured in a Side-impact Collision
A side-impact collision can be scary, but knowing what to do in case such an accident occurs can help you be more prepared and proactive at that time. Of course, what you can do depends on the severity of your injuries and your state after the accident.
If you are unconscious, there is not much you can do. However, if you are conscious, the first thing to do is call emergency 911. They will respond to the case, usually with the police and medical help for any injured persons.
Next, assess the same, including any people who have been injured. Help those who you can, but do not move the injured person unless it is necessary for the safety of that person. Moving a person after an accident can increase the damage caused by the injuries.
When the police arrive at the scene, inform them about events surrounding the accident. This is not the time to assign or take the blame for the accident. Do not let the adrenaline rush of the accident lead you into claiming fault for an accident you did not cause. Even if you feel responsible, the other party might as well have contributed significantly to the accident.
You must also exchange your information with other drivers at the scene of the accident, provide and take information such as the driver’s license number, insurance provider and policy number, the vehicle registration of all the cars involved, and the name of the driver.
Note down any information regarding the witnesses to the accident. Record their phone numbers and addresses. Your attorney can contact them later to establish some facts of the case.
Take pictures of the scene and videos where possible. You can add a timestamp to make them proper records that can point to the exact time and date of the accident. As soon as you can, write down everything you remember from the accident. If you were injured and cannot write down the details, record yourself narrating the details of the case.
Once you leave the scene of the accident, seek medical care immediately, you might be injured, but the adrenaline from the incident masks your pain and injuries. You might also have suffered internal injuries which might not be visible from the outside, or do not display symptoms immediately.
Once at the hospital, explain to the doctor that you were in an accident. He or she will know the type of injuries to look for and can detect some hidden injuries.
Next, contact your insurance company to notify them of the accident. Auto insurance companies require that you inform them any time you get into an accident so that they are aware. Informing your insurance company does not depend on fault and can save you thousands of dollars and your policy.
Hire an attorney to represent you or your loved one. The scene of an accident is cleared in the hours or days following the accident. Unless the accident was well documented, it might be hard to find sufficient evidence to prove your case. However, if you hire an attorney soon after the accident, he or she can start the investigation and evidence gathering process.
Liability and Compensation for Side Impact Crashes
Establishing liability is one of the things you must do before you can file a claim to recover your damages. Fault in the accident depends on the facts of the case. For example, when crossing an intersection on a green light, you could be T-boned by another driver who runs a red light.
Some of the pointers towards the liable party include:
- The evidence from the scene of the crime including witness testimony, pictures from the scene and skid marks
- Traffic signals at the time of the accident to determine which driver had the right of way
- Vehicle defects for example, if you tried to stop at a red light, but your brakes failed
You could also determine liability by determining what the other driver was doing at the time of the accident. Distractions are common and can affect the driver’s ability to keep driving safely.
You might also be partially at fault for the accident, especially if you were also distracted, drunk, or failed to follow traffic rules. The court will reduce the settlement by the percentage of your fault.
The insurance company, and your attorney, will examine factors such as visibility, the speed of the vehicles, and other traffic that could have contributed to the accident.
Liability can sometimes become a complicated task. For example, when several factors caused the accident, it is hard to determine whom you can sue. Some of the people you can sue are:
- The driver of the car
- The owner of the car (for commercial vehicles or state-owned vehicles)
- The manufacturer in case the accident occurred due to a product defect
- The local, state or federal government responsible for maintaining roads in case your accident occurred due to a dangerous road condition
If multiple parties are responsible, you can talk to your attorney to determine whom to sue. For example, you can sue both the manufacturer and the driver if they were both at fault. The court will determine the contributory fault of each and divide the damages accordingly.
Once you establish liability, you must determine the value of your claim. The value of a claim will help you determine a fair settlement for your damages.
Some of the factors that influence the size of a claim include:
- The type and severity of your injuries
- Your percentage contribution to the accident
- The value of property damaged
- Whether an attorney is representing you
- How fast you want to settle
- The time you need to recover from the injury
- Your life expectancy before the accident
- The effect of the death of the victim on the family
Most personal injury attorneys prefer filing the claim once you reach permanent recovery. At this point, the doctors do not expect you to make any significant improvements. Your condition is likely to remain as it is.
Some of the damages you can recover include:
1. Special Damages
Special damages consist of financial compensation for expenses or damages to which you can assign a monetary value. They are the easiest and often the first damages to calculate.
The calculation of these damages requires adding up the relevant costs or losses. For example, you can add up the value of the medical costs or wages you have lost since the accident. These damages include medical costs, lost wages, property damages, and lost earning capacity.
Medical damages are common in all types of accidents. The cost of medical treatment, therapy, and rehabilitation will depend on the type of treatment you receive, the period in which you receive the treatment, and the type of injury you suffered.
A person who suffers slight cuts will incur little to no medical expenses compared to a person who suffers traumatic brain injuries.
You must prove that the costs were spent on treatment related to the injury. This means that you can recover compensation if the accident worsened an existing injury. However, you have to let the court know that you had a pre-existing injury and show how the accident affected it.
Some of the documents you can bring to provide proof for the medical damages you seek include:
- Copies of the receipts for medication, treatment, rehabilitation, and therapy
- Notes from your doctor that show that the treatment was necessary for the injuries sustained
- Notes from your doctor on whether the injury is an accident-related one
- Your medical records for up to five years before the accident
- Testimony from a witness
Sometimes, you might have to sue for future medical damages, especially if you suffered a life-changing and permanent injury. For example, a person with traumatic brain injuries or spinal injuries might need constant treatment in the future.
Calculating the value of future medical bills might require the testimony of an economic expert and your doctor. You can determine whether you or your loved one requires future medical care by asking your doctor.
He or she will provide information about the recorded recovery timelines and the need for continued medical care based on the circumstances of your loved one.
You can also recover the wages you lose while recovering from your injuries. Lost wages are counted from the first to the last day you missed work. For instance, if you missed work for 120 days, you will be compensated for the 120 days.
You can provide evidence of your earning through:
- Pay stubs
- Returns filing statements for self-employed people
- A letter from your employer
- Your employment contract
- Your employer’s policy on bonuses
However, you cannot recover these damages if your employer still pays you while you are recovering your full salary as you recover.
Sometimes, an injury can cause you to miss future employment opportunities or lose your earning potential. In this case, you will be compensated for your lost earning potential based on the earnings you make after the injury and the earnings you made before the accident.
These damages are available in situations where you:
- Cannot find employment which earns you the same salary you earned before the accident
- You cannot handle the same work activities you handled before the accident
- You need vocational training to learn a new skill from which you can earn
- The injury left you unable to engage in economic activities (for example, if you became paralyzed from the accident, you cannot work and have to depend on others for your survival)
Factors that influence the value of lost income potential include:
- Your pre-accident life expectancy
- Your past income
- Your current earning
- Expert testimony
- Witness testimony about what you can and cannot do in terms of earning an income
- Your goals, interest, and opportunities for economic growth in your career field
- Your performance reviews
- Your employment contract
- The skills you have (you can recover damages for lost earning capacity if you are in school or are unemployed)
Special damages also include compensation for property that was damaged in the accident. Such property includes your car and the items that were inside the vehicle when the accident occurred.
The value of property damages depends on:
- The costs of repairing the car
- The costs of replacing the damaged property
- The fair market value of the car
- The value of any additions or upgrades you made to the car
Special damages are often the easiest to calculate and must be determined first before calculating the value of general damages.
2. General Damages
General damages are those whose economic value cannot be established. They are abstract concepts such as pain, suffering, loss of parental guidance, loss of spousal support, and loss of consortium.
The value of these losses can only be established based on the proof you present to support your claim. However, the court can use some concrete facts to determine the value of the case. These facts include:
- The type and extent of your injuries (a person with traumatic brain injuries is likely to receive higher compensation that one who receives a first-degree burn from the accident)
- The effect of the injuries in the long-term
- How convincing you are
- Testimony from an expert witness such as your doctor who can testify about the physical pain ranges of people with similar injuries
Another thing that helps in proving pain and suffering is a pain journal. A pain journal consists of daily entries of how you feel physically and emotionally. It can also include information on the drugs you require for reducing your physical pain. You can also document the emotional changes that you are going through as you recover. You can also use the notes of your therapist or counselor.
A car accident can lead to post-traumatic disorders and stress, which can affect the quality of your life. If you are facing any of these, you must speak with your therapist so that he or she can record your emotional progress throughout the sessions. He or she might be called as a witness to testify about your condition.
3. Punitive Damages
These are damages, which the court awards to punish the defendant. They are available in cases where the defendant acts in a grossly negligent manner. The court usually has the discretion to order the payment of these damages, but the plaintiff cannot request them as part of the personal injury claim.
4. Wrongful Death Damages
Wrongful death damages are those awarded when you have lost a loved one due to a side-impact collision. These damages are awarded to the estate of the deceased to compensate them for:
- The pain and suffering endured due to the death of the person
- The medical costs incurred before the defendant died (the costs may include transportation to the morgue or the hospital)
- Funeral and burial costs
- Loss of parental guidance
If a loved one died in a side-impact collision, you have to file the lawsuit within two years of the death.
The settlement in personal injury cases can be small or significant based on the facts of your case and the negotiation skills of your attorney. However, whatever you settle for must be enough to cover the economic damages you suffer.
Medical bills, for instance, can be overwhelming, especially for families that depend on one source of income or do not have a regular income. Also, if you cannot receive wages or a salary due to your injuries, then you must experience the strain of your finances, even on your peace of mind.
Find a Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
Money can never replace the happiness you lost or restore you to your pre-injury self. However, it can help you ease through the transition and compensate you for the difference the accident creates in your life. The compensation you recover can offset medical bills and give you enough money to restart your life and adjust to the injuries.
At Orange County Personal Injury Attorney, we understand and have seen the havoc an accident can wreck in the life of a person or a family. We work with you right from the start gathering the right evidence and estimating the value of your settlement. We represent your interests as if they were our own.
We are paid when you win. Therefore, you would not lose to pursue a claim against the party who caused your injuries. Contact us today for a consultation at 714-876-1959.