For decades, the auto industry has worked to improve motor vehicle safety. Advances like seatbelts, airbags, and crashworthiness testing all help reduce the chances of an accident injury. But even with these constantly improving safety measures, the side of the vehicle remains one of the most vulnerable spots in the event of an accident.
T-bone accidents continue to be one of the most dangerous types of accidents, and if they involve a large truck, they carry an extremely high risk of serious injury. If a T-bone truck accident injured you or someone you love, talk to an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible. The law may entitle you to financial compensation to help cover the cost of your injuries.
What Is a T-Bone Accident and Why Are They so Dangerous?
T-bone often describes side-impact accidents. You may also hear these accidents referred to as “broadside accidents.” These accidents happen when the front of one vehicle strikes the side of another vehicle, mimicking the shape of a “t.”
T-bone accidents are particularly dangerous because vehicle occupants have little built-in protection against this type of accident. While side airbags are now common in newer vehicles, they still do not offer the same protections passengers have in front impact and rear-end accidents. During a front or rear-end collision, most cars are designed to crumple to absorb the force of the collision and limit injury to the occupants. With T-bone accidents, there is no crumple zone. Consequently, the vehicle occupants absorb most of the force of the collision.
Four Common Causes of T-Bone Accidents
T-bone accidents don’t just happen. They are almost always the result of a driver’s negligence. When a driver’s actions lead to your injuries, that driver and possibly their employer may be financially responsible for any costs you incur as a result. Some common scenarios include:
A recent report from the Texas Department of Transportation found that distracted drivers killed 378 people during a recent one-year period. When a driver takes their eyes off the road, they have less time to react to hazards in front of them. If a driver looks down at their phone or adjusts the radio, they may run a red light or stop sign or fail to see another vehicle enter the roadway.
For the last two decades, speeding has been a factor in nearly one-third of all traffic fatalities. Drivers traveling at higher speeds require more time to stop. This is dangerous for anyone but is particularly problematic when it comes to large trucks.
The National Association of City Transportation Officials reports that a passenger vehicle traveling at 65 miles per hour takes about 345 feet to come to a complete stop. Comparatively, a large truck traveling the same speed needs 600 feet to stop—almost double that of a passenger vehicle. When a passenger vehicle pulls out into an intersection, a speeding truck may not have enough time to stop.
Additionally, when another driver is speeding, you can’t always gauge how quickly they are coming upon an intersection. If a passenger vehicle attempts to cross because they think they have enough time, it may be too late by the time they realize the truck is approaching faster than they expected.
Failure to Yield the Right of Way
Failure to yield the right of way is one of the most common reasons for motor vehicle accidents. At every intersection, traffic rules dictate who should proceed first. However, drivers don’t always follow the rules. When two vehicles attempt to enter an intersection at the same time, a T-bone accident can occur.
Common reasons for these types of accidents include:
- Poor visibility;
- A driver’s unfamiliarity with the area;
- A driver being impatient; and
- One of the drivers choosing to ignore the rules.
In the groundbreaking Large Truck Crash Causation Study, researchers discovered some alarming facts. Of the approximately 141,000 trucks involved in fatal and injury-causing crashes during the study period, around 29 percent had brake problems at the time of the collision. Naturally, this is a big concern and one that can easily contribute to T-bone accidents. While federal regulations require truck drivers to inspect their trucks daily and submit to annual vehicle inspections, these checks don’t always happen and even when they do, drivers and inspectors can overlook potential issues.
Other mechanical failures that can contribute to T-bone accidents include:
- Malfunctioning or broken safety features, including windshield wipers and safety lights;
- Steering issues; and
- Tire failure or blowout.
T-bone Accidents Can Turn into Underride Accidents
It’s hard to say what’s more frightening, an 80,000-pound truck hitting you on the site or hitting the side of that truck and rolling under it. When a large truck crosses into the path of another vehicle, the smaller vehicle’s driver may not have enough time to stop. What makes this even scarier is that as of now, the law does not require large trucks to install side underride guards. This means when a passenger vehicle collides with the side of a truck, the truck can pin it under the trailer. This increases the risk of serious injury and death.
Know Your Rights After a Truck T-Bone Accident
After an accident, it’s normal to be overwhelmed and have a long list of questions. This is a confusing time when you need to focus on your health. As you recover, take care of yourself and rebuild your life. Though money won’t take away your pain, it can help your recovery by giving you peace of mind because you don’t have to also worry about your bills. An attorney can help answer your questions and guide you through the process of filing a claim. Get the help you deserve. For more information or to learn more about your legal rights, contact an experienced truck accident attorney right away.