Few situations evoke as much fear and concern as T-bone accidents with a large semi-truck. T-bone accidents can cause life-altering injuries to victims, including children in the back seat of passenger vehicles.
Sometimes referred to as broadside or side-impact accidents, these incidents occur when one vehicle hits the side of another head-on. Despite advancements in vehicle safety measures, the sides of passenger vehicles remain comparatively more vulnerable than their front or rear counterparts.
As a result, T-bone accidents involving any type of vehicle often result in severe and, tragically, sometimes even fatal injuries for drivers and passengers. When the vehicle that T-bones your car is a 50,000-pound (or more) truck, the results can be devastating and costly.
If you or someone you love experienced the harrowing aftermath of a T-bone accident involving a truck, a truck accident attorney can offer assistance and support during this challenging time.
Common Causes of Truck T-Bone Collisions
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), side-impact accidents contributed to 23 percent of vehicle occupant fatalities in car accidents in the year 2020.
Most personal injury cases, including t-bone truck accident claims, arise from negligence. Negligence is the failure to act or behave as a reasonably prudent person should under the same or similar circumstances. For example, reasonable truck drivers stop at red lights and don’t drink and drive.
Side-impact collisions involving trucks occur due to various factors, many of which stem from errors made by truck drivers or even the negligence of another party, such as the trucking company or the truck’s manufacturer. These dangerous accidents can happen for the following reasons:
Failure to Fully Stop
Given their substantial size and braking system, trucks require more distance to come to a complete stop. Regrettably, some truckers may roll through a four-way intersection, sidestepping the law to stop entirely. This constitutes an illegal violation of traffic safety protocols and ranks among the primary reasons for side-impact collisions.
Neglecting the Right of Way
In situations where the truck driver does at least pause at a four-way intersection, they might overlook yielding to the other driver who possesses the right of way. The right-of-way law is sometimes disregarded by truckers, often with severe or fatal consequences.
Disregarding Traffic Signals
Disobeying a red light poses considerable danger, as a trucker might try the common tactic of accelerating to beat the light before it turns red. This conduct is unlawful and may constitute negligence if it leads to a side-impact collision resulting in injuries or death.
Making Turns Across Traffic Lanes
Even when a trucker occupies a turning lane and is legally permitted to navigate across traffic lanes, they must exercise caution and wait for the right moment to turn. Failing to do so and attempting a turn without sufficient time will likely result in their liability if a T-bone collision unfolds.
Poor Assessment of Traffic Conditions
When initiating a right turn at a stop sign or traffic signal, a trucker must ensure it is safe to proceed. A cursory glance may not suffice in bustling intersections, especially when a swiftly moving vehicle can suddenly emerge. To avoid any type of accident, especially t-bone accidents, truck drivers need to look and thoroughly assess their surroundings before turning.
Driving While Under the Influence
Should a trucker operate a vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol, it can affect their reflexes, visual acuity, and cognitive abilities, elevating the risk of an accident. Driving while intoxicated is also illegal, which easily establishes the truck driver’s negligence.
Distractions divert a driver’s attention away from the road. In the case of truckers, this can be especially risky due to the extended stopping distances required for larger vehicles. Activities like texting, using GPS, or adjusting controls can lead to critical lapses in judgment, causing a trucker not to see a red light, a stop sign, or even a passenger vehicle backing out of a driveway.
Excessive speed is a significant factor in many accidents, including T-bone collisions. When truckers exceed safe speeds, they decrease their ability to react to sudden changes in traffic patterns, increasing the likelihood of a t-bone and other collisions.
Brake and Steering Malfunctions
While relatively less common, failures in the brake and steering systems can leave a truck incapable of stopping in time. What’s even worse is that certain trucking companies may tamper with or disable specific brakes to mitigate wear and tear and cut costs on repairs— increasing the risk of a t-bone accident and leaving accident victims to bear the brunt.
Adverse Weather Conditions
Truckers must exercise increased caution when navigating their rigs through inclement weather, such as heavy rain, ice, fog, or snow. Failing to do so might result in a slide into an intersection or a failure to stop entirely at a stop sign due to inadequate braking distance. Even though truck drivers can’t control the weather, they are still responsible for adjusting their driving habits to match the weather conditions—such as driving under the speed limit or even staying off the road if it’s unsafe.
Where Do T-Bone Accidents Typically Occur?
Motor vehicle accidents, including broadside collisions, can occur in unexpected places and at unforeseen moments. Many victims of such accidents feel like the other vehicle seemingly appeared out of nowhere. However, it’s crucial to acknowledge that incidents involving large trucks do not materialize out of thin air. Instead, they are often the result of a negligent party’s actions or oversights. Unfortunately, the semi-truck might have executed an unforeseen move or, for various reasons, remained hidden from view until it was too late.
Common locations for T-bone accidents to occur include the following:
Lacking any stop signs or traffic lights, uncontrolled intersections typically exist in areas with minimal traffic. Despite the lower traffic volume, they can still be hazardous and increase the likelihood of a truck T-bone accident. Without designated traffic signals, drivers should always yield the right of way to the vehicle that arrived first. Nevertheless, numerous accidents arise from drivers failing to yield or making erroneous assumptions about the intentions of other drivers.
Typically found at intersections with moderate or low traffic flow, stop signs serve as crucial traffic control devices. Occasionally, they are at junctions where a high-volume road intersects with a lower-traffic street. If a truck driver, for any reason, fails to notice or comply with a stop sign, it creates a dangerous scenario. This is particularly true if another vehicle has already entered the intersection, setting the stage for a T-bone collision.
Acting as essential control points in high-traffic intersections, stoplights are installed in non-residential areas to regulate traffic traveling at speeds generally exceeding 25 miles per hour. When a truck driver neglects to stop at a red light, it significantly increases the risk of a T-bone accident. Truck t-bone accidents occurring at stoplights are often more severe than those at stop signs due to the increased speeds associated with intersections with stoplights versus stop signs.
Although not known for high speeds, residential and commercial driveways remain hot spots for T-bone collisions. Exiting a driveway requires merging into oncoming traffic. On busy roads or when sightlines are obstructed by other vehicles or landscaping, the risk of a T-bone accident escalates. Additionally, large trucks parked on the street or objects on the roadside can obstruct a driver’s critical view of approaching traffic.
How a Truck Accident Attorney Can Help
A truck accident attorney plays a crucial role in assisting victims of truck t-bone accidents.
Here are some of the ways they can provide invaluable support:
- Legal experience and knowledge: A truck accident attorney has critical knowledge of relevant laws and regulations about the trucking industry. They are well-versed in federal and state regulations that govern trucking operations, including hours of service, maintenance standards, and licensing requirements.
- Investigation and evidence gathering: Attorneys have the resources and skills to conduct a thorough investigation into the accident. This may involve obtaining accident reports, collecting witness statements, analyzing the scene, and gathering any available surveillance footage. They may also work with accident reconstruction experts to establish liability.
- Determining liability: Truck accidents can involve multiple parties, including the truck driver, trucking company, maintenance contractors, and others. A skilled truck accident attorney can help identify all potentially liable parties and pursue claims against them, ensuring they explore all avenues for compensation.
- Dealing with insurance companies: Trucking companies and their insurers often have powerful legal teams working to minimize liability; you deserve to have the same on your side. An experienced attorney can level the playing field by negotiating with insurance companies on behalf of the injured party seeking fair compensation for medical expenses, property damage, lost income, and other damages.
- Calculating damages: Estimating the actual cost of an accident can be complex. A truck accident attorney can help assess the full extent of damages, including medical bills, future medical expenses, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and other non-economic losses.
- Filing legal documents and managing deadlines: Navigating the legal process requires submitting various documents, including court filings, motions, and requests for information. An attorney ensures that all necessary paperwork is filed accurately and within established deadlines. These deadlines can vary by state and the circumstances of your accident.
- Negotiation and settlement: Many truck accident cases reach a resolution through negotiation and settlement. An attorney can skillfully negotiate with the opposing party to secure a fair settlement that adequately compensates the injured party for their losses.
- Litigation and trial representation: In cases where you cannot reach a full and fair settlement with insurance companies, an experienced truck accident attorney can represent the injured party in court. They will build a strong case, present evidence, and advocate for their client’s rights before a judge and jury.
- Providing guidance and support: Dealing with the aftermath of a truck accident can be overwhelming. An attorney offers valuable guidance, support, and advocacy throughout the legal process, helping the injured party understand their rights and options.
Schedule a Consultation with a Truck Accident Attorney Today
After a T-bone or other devastating accident, a truck accident attorney’s experience, resources, and advocacy are essential for ensuring that you, as the injured party, receive fair compensation, and they protect your interests throughout the legal process. The sooner you contact Chicago personal injury lawyer after suffering injuries, the better your chances of maximizing your injury compensation.