A broadside collision, also known as a T-bone collision, occurs when one car strikes another directly in the side, often at a high rate of speed. Broadside collisions can often cause catastrophic injuries. Many vehicles do not have as much protection at the sides of the vehicle as they do at the front and rear, which means passengers in the vehicle, particularly on the impacted side, may suffer more serious injuries.
Avoiding broadside collisions often means paying careful attention to the flow of traffic and appropriate traffic signals. Unfortunately, broadside collisions can prove very difficult to avoid. If you suffered injuries in your broadside collision, make sure you have a car accident lawyer go over the conditions of the accident and what compensation you likely deserve.
The Most Common Location of Broadside Collisions
Broadside collisions occur most frequently in intersections. Vehicles have the highest likelihood of crossing directly at a single point in intersections while traveling in different directions. Intersections can pose a much greater danger than other areas of the road since they rely more heavily on other drivers following the rules of the road to avoid a collision.
What makes an intersection dangerous?
Some intersections naturally pose a greater danger than others, leading to a higher overall risk of a broadside collision. Several factors may raise the danger associated with a particular intersection.
Poor Traffic Signals
A lack of appropriate traffic signals can make an intersection much more difficult to navigate safely. Without the proper signs and signals in the intersection, drivers may not know what they need to do to navigate that intersection correctly, and they may have to guess the other driver’s behavior. While local drivers may follow some basic tenets of road etiquette, visitors or those unfamiliar with the area may have difficulty navigating safely.
Malfunctioning traffic signals, including a broken traffic light, can also make it more difficult to safely navigate an intersection since drivers may not know how to safely navigate an intersection under those conditions.
Heavy traffic can make an intersection much more dangerous, overall. In heavy traffic, drivers may need to pay more attention to any hazards. Heavy traffic also means considerably greater potential for accidents, particularly during the highest-traffic times of the day.
In an intersection with overall poor visibility, drivers might not have the ability to see another vehicle coming, which may substantially raise the risk of a broadside collision.
Poor visibility can make it very difficult for many drivers to determine when they can safely move into an intersection or decrease the likelihood that a driver will notice the presence of another vehicle, pedestrian, or cyclist in the intersection. As a result, that intersection might pose a higher overall risk of broadside collisions.
Poor Sign Placement
Many people rely on traffic signs to let them know when they approach a specific area or to help them find their destinations. Poor sign visibility can leave those drivers struggling. In many cases, drivers may become distracted by that lack of signs, raising the risk of a broadside collision within that intersection.
Common Causes of Broadside Collisions
Broadside collisions can result from a variety of factors. Of course, the features of an intersection can have a significant impact on the risk of an accident, including a broadside collision. However, drivers who engage in dangerous or reckless behaviors may have a greater chance of causing a broadside collision in even the safest intersections.
Speeding contributes to as many as 26 percent of fatal car accidents each year, including fatalities caused by broadside collisions. A speeding driver may not have adequate time to stop as he approaches an intersection. He may sail straight through it without taking the time to look at potential hazards around him. Even if a speeding driver notices the presence of another vehicle in the intersection, he may not have adequate time to stop.
High rates of speed can also involve greater overall force in the accident, which may mean more substantial injury to the passengers in the other vehicle. A speeding driver may have little time to even slow down before a broadside collision, especially if he, for any reason, chose not to stop at the intersection.
In addition to speeding, aggressive driving behaviors can substantially raise the risk of broadside collisions. Some aggressive drivers may run through a red light or stop sign because they want to reach their destination as fast as possible and do not want to wait for another vehicle to take its turn.
Unfortunately, that decision to avoid stopping can prove incredibly dangerous. An aggressive driver may also think that he can avoid letting other vehicles proceed through the intersection and try to force his vehicle out even though another driver has the right of way.
Drunk drivers suffer from several impairments that can raise the risk of an accident, including a broadside collision.
They may have to contend with:
- Tunnel vision, which can make it difficult for drunk drivers to spot the presence of another vehicle in the intersection or to pay attention to traffic signals.
- Impaired judgment, which may cause them to make dangerous or reckless decisions, including proceeding into an intersection without stopping or failing to look adequately for other vehicles.
- Slowed reaction times, which may raise the risk that an impaired driver will cause a broadside collision or prove unable to reduce the damage associated with that collision.
- Inability to control the vehicle, including impaired motor controls, which may make it more difficult to avoid a collision or raise the odds that the driver will cause a broadside collision.
Alcohol consumption can make it incredibly difficult for many drivers to navigate safely. It can also make their behaviors unpredictable, which means other drivers might not have the capacity to judge their behaviors and avoid entering an intersection until the drunk driver has had a chance to proceed through.
Driver distraction remains a serious concern everywhere in the country, even though most drivers know the dangers of driving while distracted and the severity of the accidents that may result. Distracted drivers may fail to notice the presence of another vehicle in an intersection, which may cause them to sail straight into a broadside collision without taking the time to consider the potential dangers.
Distracted drivers may not even notice the presence of an intersection or a traffic signal, including a stop sign or a red light, at all. Furthermore, distracted drivers may fail to notice changing lights and other signals that could indicate that they cannot currently move through the intersection. As a result, distraction may substantially raise the risk of a broadside collision, especially in dangerous or busy intersections.
Running a Red Light
To many drivers, running a red light may, on the surface, seem innocent enough. Drivers may choose to run a red light to avoid waiting through the changing light. They may assume that they can simply move through without too much danger as long as the light has just changed.
Other drivers may try to sail on through a light because they do not see another vehicle coming and assume that they can get through the intersection safely due to the lack of traffic. Unfortunately, some drivers may completely fail to notice the presence of another vehicle in the intersection, which can lead to a broadside collision.
In some cases, broadside collisions can result because of a traffic jam. Suppose traffic stops with a car still in the middle of an intersection. In most cases, drivers should not proceed into an intersection until they have adequate room to move to the other side so they do not further snarl traffic.
However, some drivers may not realize that they will stop in the middle of the intersection until it occurs. Then, the light changes. Another vehicle gets ready to move through the intersection. A distracted driver might assume that the changing light means he has adequate time to move through the intersection safely. Unfortunately, a car stopped in the middle of an intersection might end up in a broadside collision with little he can do to stop the potential impact.
Failure to Yield
In many cases, intersections clearly label which vehicle has the right of way. Unfortunately, some drivers may ignore the right of way and fail to yield to other vehicles, including those already in the intersection. Many drivers inadvertently cause broadside collisions and other serious accidents because they fail to yield in an intersection.
Who Bears Liability for Broadside Collision?
Often, liability for a broadside collision will rest with the driver whose vehicle strikes the other vehicle’s side. A car already in the intersection usually has the right of way, even if traffic signals change or the flow of traffic moves.
However, after a broadside collision, both your lawyer and the insurance company that covers the liable driver may want to look at all conditions that may have contributed to the accident. A close investigation of the accident can help uncover which driver most likely committed the negligent act that ultimately led to the accident.
Navigating the Aftermath of a Broadside Collision
Broadside collisions occur without warning. You may not know what to do next. Should you move your vehicle? What happens if you suffer serious injuries?
- Call 911 to report the accident. Always report any accident that involves significant property damage or any type of injury, including minor injuries. Reporting the accident will ensure that you have a police report that lists the date and time of the accident and may, in many cases, show some of the features that likely contributed to the accident.
Take photos. If you can safely move around the accident scene, and you will not put yourself at risk of further injury or worsen your existing injuries, you may want to take photos of the accident scene. Note the damage to the two vehicles and the position of the vehicles in the intersection.
- Ask the 911 operator whether you should move your vehicle. In some areas, state law may require you to move your vehicle out of the road if you can do so safely. Often, an accident in an intersection can interfere substantially with traffic flow. The police may struggle to reach you while traffic remains blocked. Talk to the 911 operator about the position of the damaged vehicles, if you can move them, and whether you should move them before the police arrive.
- Get medical attention for any injuries you sustained. You may need to apply some emergency medical treatment at the accident scene. When you call 911, ask for medical help if you need it. You may need to wait for an ambulance to arrive. Even if you think you did not sustain serious injuries in a broadside collision, you may want to seek medical attention to ensure that you receive care and treatment for any injuries you did sustain.
- Contact a lawyer to review the accident and your right to compensation.
If you suffered injuries in your broadside collision, make sure you have a lawyer go over the conditions of the accident and what compensation you likely deserve. Contact a car accident lawyer who can help identify the liable party and, in many cases, help you fight to get the compensation you may deserve.