What to Know About Side Impact Collisions

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Posted By | January 4, 2024 | Car Accidents

One of the most deadly types of car accidents are those involving side-impact collisions. This type of collision is sometimes called a T-bone accident, broadside crash, or angle collision. Side impact collisions typically occur in intersections due to one vehicle’s failure to yield the right of way.

Side-impact accidents cause about 22% of car accident deaths each year and result in hundreds of thousands of injuries across the United States. The driver and passenger seated on the side of the vehicle hit in a side-impact collision are especially at risk of fatal injuries. According to crash experts, side-impact collisions place motorists at high risk of injuries because there are fewer mechanical structures between the passenger and the point of impact compared to rear-end accidents and front-impact collisions.

Common Causes of Side-Impact Collisions

When one driver fails to yield the right of way when entering an intersection it often results in a side-impact collision with the vehicle with the right of way. Common causes of side impact or T-bone collisions include the following:

  • Distracted driving: when a driver is distracted by looking at their phone or adjusting a sound system, they may fail to notice that they’re approaching an intersection. Side-impact collisions occur when distracted drivers miss a stop sign or drive through a red light
  • A driver intentionally runs a red light
  • Drunk driving
  • Reckless driving such as trying to outpace others in approaching an intersection
  • Speeding, which extends stopping time
  • Drivers making a turn into an intersection with an obstructed view
  • Inexperienced drivers who don’t know the rules of right of way at intersections

In some cases, a sharply angled side-swipe collision from an unsafe lane change is also a side-impact collision, causing serious injuries or fatalities. Side impact accidents are often severe because the driver hit by the approaching vehicle may not see it coming and has little opportunity to avoid the impact.

Some side-impact collisions occur when icy road conditions or brake failures cause a driver’s car to skid through an intersection or slide sideways into another vehicle on a highway.

Common Injuries in Side-Impact Car Accidents

Passengers in the rear seats of vehicles face the greatest risk of injuries from side-impact collisions, with only a hollow metal door between their body and a vehicle that impacts them in a collision. Common injuries in side-impact accidents include the following:

  • Bone fractures, including of the limbs, hips, pelvis, collarbone and ribs
  • Head injuries and traumatic brain injuries
  • Back injuries
  • Neck injuries
  • Whiplash
  • Shoulder injuries
  • Knee injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Internal organ damage

Seatbelts can improve outcomes but don’t play a significant role in reducing some types of side-impact injuries caused by crushing metal and a strong, back-and-forth jarring motion.

Who is at Fault in a Side-Impact Collision?

Determining fault in a side impact collision requires an investigation, often including examining forensic evidence at the scene, the police report, eyewitness testimony, or traffic camera video. Fault in a side-impact collision usually lies with a negligent driver who failed to yield the right of way at an intersection. However, in less common cases, fault could lie with a third party such as the manufacturer of a defective brake system, or a road maintenance agency that failed to properly repair or maintain a faulty traffic signal or clear obstructions from a stop sign.

In a side-impact collision, drivers at the scene may disagree on who had the right of way. It often takes an investigation through an experienced car accident attorney in McKinney to examine the evidence and consult with accident reconstruction experts to determine which driver was negligent in a side-impact collision.