Side-Impact Collisions

December 16, 2022 | Article by Chain | Cohn | Clark staff | Tips & Information

Side-Impact Collisions

Different types of car accidents often result in different levels of compensation. Although the actual settlement is based more on severity of injury, property damage, and other compensatory damages, certain accidents tend to be more serious than others. 

Side-impact collisions are known for having a relatively high fatality rate in California. If you or a loved one is involved in a side-impact crash, find a Bakersfield car accident lawyer as soon as possible to get started on the journey to recovery. 

What Are Side-Impact Collisions?

A side-impact collision occurs when two cars come into contact with the side(s) of one or both vehicles. There are three main types of side-impact collisions that we see in California:

  • T-bone collisions: T-bone collisions—also called broadside accidents—are probably the most recognizable form of side-impact collision, as they often have the most severe consequences. A T-bone crash occurs when the front of one vehicle runs directly into the side of another vehicle, creating a “T” shape. In this type of collision, there is minimal protection for the driver or passenger in the vehicle that gets hit, as the point of impact is right beside them. The doors may collapse inward and crush the passenger(s)/driver. Newer vehicles are being built with airbags on the side and in doors, but existing cars may not have the same protection. 
  • Sideswipe accidents: Sideswipe accidents occur when two vehicles come into contact with the sides of their vehicles. The vehicles are typically traveling in the same direction or opposite directions and get too close to each other. When a driver fails to check their mirrors and general surroundings, or gets distracted, they may drift over the lane lines or merge at a bad time. Since the vehicle masses do not collide in sideswipes, there is a lower impact and lower chance of severe injury. However, there may still be significant property damage to vehicles, or a driver may lose control as a result of the sideswipe. 
  • Angled crashes: An angled crash is somewhere between a T-bone and sideswipe accident. It occurs when one vehicle collides with another vehicle’s side at an angle. This is most common around intersections or at merging points when one driver does not yield to another. These crashes can cause significant injuries at high speeds.

Side-impact collisions are some of the most traumatic accidents because the driver of the car that’s hit rarely sees the accident coming before the impact. Their vehicle may roll over or be hit a long distance with them having almost no idea of what happened. 

How Do Side-Impact Collisions Happen?

It’s impossible to predict exactly how a car accident will happen. Below are some of the more common reasons a side-impact collision may occur.

  • Illegal maneuvers: Drivers who ignore the rules of the road and choose to engage in illegal or unnatural driving behaviors can cause side-impact crashes. Surprise U-turns or passing in a no passing zone may catch another driver off guard and not give them enough time to adjust. 
  • Failure to yield: Drivers sometimes get impatient at intersections when they are waiting to make a turn for a long time. If they rush when it’s not their turn or go even when they have a red light, it may lead to a collision with another driver. 
  • Bad weather conditions: Any driver who gets behind the wheel of a vehicle is assuming responsibility for controlling that vehicle. Regardless of the weather and precipitation, they should be able to function safely. That being said, heavy fog and wet roads can make it harder to navigate. 
  • Collisions while merging: When drivers don’t pay attention while merging or fail to yield to others, it can lead to sideswipe accidents on highways and roads.

Similar to other car accident causes, side-impact collisions in California can be caused by a variety of factors, and pose a great risk to those in the car that is collided with. 

Why Are T-Bone Accidents So Dangerous?

Side-impact collision statistics from the California Highway Patrol show that in 2019, sideswipes and broadsides accounted for 1,447 out of the 5,186 fatalities in California

A car’s frame is designed to protect drivers and passengers from the front and rear. There are larger “crumple zones” which will absorb force. When a car is hit from the side, however, there is almost no frame between the striking vehicle and the person on the other side. The passengers take the brunt of the impact, doors and windows may be smashed, and the frame may be destroyed. 

These are some of the reasons that serious injuries are so common with side-impact and T-bone crashes. It is especially dangerous if a passenger is seated right where the car is hit. Aside from head-on collisions, side-impact collisions account for the most car accident fatalities in the U.S. 

Injuries From Side-Impact Collisions

Depending on the specifics of a crash, the range of injuries sustained can be mild to severe and located anywhere on the body. Below are some of the more common side-impact collision injuries.

  • Anxiety
  • Broken bones
  • Chest injuries (broken ribs and punctured lungs)
  • Internal bleeding
  • Mental disabilities
  • Organ damage
  • Pelvic injuries
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Shoulder injuries
  • Spine injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)

Many of these injuries lead to long-term or permanent disabilities. Brain damage can alter someone’s mental health indefinitely, and spinal injuries can physically paralyze a person. The medical care for these catastrophic injuries can add up to very large amounts. Even one-time trips to the hospital can come with a hefty price tag. 

Regardless of the level of injuries or property damages, victims should seek legal assistance after a crash. A trustworthy California car accident lawyer can help you decide whether or not you have a solid case for compensation. Here at Chain | Cohn | Clark, we have a team dedicated to getting you the benefits you are entitled to after a side-impact collision. 

Determining Fault in a Side-Impact Crash

After a side-impact crash, you typically know what happened because you witnessed it firsthand. However, whether or not you can recover compensation is dependent on your ability to prove to others what happened. Especially if the other driver does not agree with your perspective, it can be difficult to hold them accountable. 

To protect yourself from a “your word against mine” scenario, collect as much evidence as you can directly after the accident occurs. If you are physically and mentally capable, you should try to get the following information:

  • A copy of the police report that includes citations issued
  • Testimony from any witnesses who were present at the scene
  • Pictures of everything at the accident scene
  • Videos from nearby facilities or dashcams
  • Copies of any mechanic reports for auto repairs
  • Reports of medical expenses and bills 

If you cannot begin to collect the above information, ask another person to do it for you. These documents and details are imperative to moving your car accident case forward. 

A car accident attorney will help you use these resources to establish liability in a side-impact crash. They will conduct an investigation and explain why the other party is at fault and therefore owes the injured party. This makes the recovery process easier for you and increases the likelihood of receiving compensation. 

Preventing Side-Impact Accidents

Some accidents are unpredictable and unavoidable. However, there are always steps you can take to reduce the chances of being involved in a side-impact crash. Below are some of the precautions we recommend when driving in California. 

  • Make informed purchases: If you are buying a new car, check to see if it has side airbags and other safety features which can protect you in the event of a crash.
  • Pay attention: It doesn’t take more than a fraction of a second for a situation to get out of hand when driving at high speeds. Keep your focus on driving and avoid distractions. You should give yourself an opportunity to respond to changing road conditions.
  • Proceed carefully at intersections: Intersections are a hotspot for all types of accidents—not just side-impact. There are cars stopping and going in all directions around you, and everybody is expected to follow a specific set of rules. Move slowly, be patient, and remain vigilant throughout. 
  • Seatbelts: Wearing a seatbelt is perhaps the most important safety measure that exists in driving. They are meant to protect you in the event of an accident and can be the difference-maker in a potentially fatal accident. Use the proper car seats and booster seats for any small children or babies. 

In addition, you should avoid reckless driving behaviors, such as speeding, driving under the influence, and driving distracted. These factors may lead to you being the cause of a side-impact crash, which could result in your injury and you being held responsible for compensating the other driver. 

Chain | Cohn | Clark and Side-Impact Collisions

Here at Chain | Cohn | Clark in Bakersfield, we have been fighting for residents like you for decades. We will treat your case with the utmost care and provide the necessary resources for your recovery. 

Car accidents in California are unfortunately all too common. Even if you take every precaution, it’s likely that you will eventually get into a vehicle accident. In the event that you are injured due to someone else’s negligence, our team is ready to hop on your case as soon as we can.