Also known as a T-bone accident, a Side-Impact Collision occurs when a vehicle crashes head-on into the side of another car. Side-Impact Collisions frequently happen at intersections or crossings of a multi-lane highway. A side-impact collision may also occur if a driver loses control and rams into the side of another vehicle. Injuries resulting from side-impact collisions are usually more severe than damages that result from a head-on collision or rear-end collisions. If you are injured as a result of a car accident, please contact us at the Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney for help in filing a personal injury claim.

Overview of Side-Impact Collisions

Side-Impact Collisions tend to be very severe compared to other types of collisions. There is only a thin layer of protection between the outside of a vehicle and the vehicle occupants. When a Side-Impact Collision occurs, there is a high likelihood of the victims being trapped inside the car until a rescue team arrives.

During car accidents, including Side-Impact Collisions, the fault is based on negligence. Liability lies on the negligent driver who causes the accident. The negligent driver is liable to other drivers and passengers who may suffer injuries during the accident. A driver can act negligently by failing to follow the traffic rules or by failing to operate a vehicle with due care. In a Side-Impact Collision, the fault may depend on a number of factors. For instance, a collision may occur due to misleading traffic signals, poor road conditions, and defective vehicles.

In most cases, Side-Impact Collisions occur due to the negligence of one or more drivers. If a car driver fails to operate with due care for other drivers, an accident may occur. Some of the most common causes of Side-Impact Collisions include distracted driving, mainly operating a mobile phone while driving. A driver who is driving and texting at the same time is highly likely to cause an accident. Other causes may include operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, over speeding, failing to yield right of way, and running a red light. 

Victims of Side-Impact Collisions

As a victim of Side-Impact Collision, you are entitled to compensation from the negligent driver. However, in order to receive compensation, you have to prove that the other driver was negligent or that the driver failed to exercise his/her duty of care. Some of the elements include the following:

  • The other driver owed you a duty of care
  • The driver acted in negligence and breached his/her duty of care
  • The driver's negligence was a significant factor in causing your injuries

As a driver in California, you owe other road users a duty of care. Therefore, you have to use reasonable care whenever you are operating a motor vehicle. It is also your duty as a driver to look out for pedestrians, other cars, and obstacles. You also have the duty of controlling the speed and the movement of your vehicle. 

Common Injuries in a Side-Impact Collision

The injuries a victim suffers in the case of a Side-Impact Collision depend on a number of factors. First, the injuries will depend on the speed of the collision. For a high-speed collision, the victims will sustain more severe injuries. Injuries suffered will also depend on the angle of the impact. Injuries will also depend on the facilities inside the victim's car, including airbags.  Whether a victim had secured himself/herself with a safety belt will also determine the extent of injuries suffered. 

The vehicle types involved in the collision will also determine the extent of injuries sustained. The presence of safety features in a vehicle will significantly reduce the risk of severe injuries in case of a collision. Safety features in a car include side curtain airbags and high side-impact ratings. However, even when safety features are available, some injuries are likely to occur. Victims are likely to suffer injuries on the neck, back, head, and brain. Also possible to occur are facial traumas and internal injuries. A victim may also suffer some broken bones.

If a victim is trapped in the car after a Side-Impact Collision, the injuries may get worse. It would be hard for the injured passengers and the driver to get out of the car to seek medical attention.

Causes of Side-Impact Collisions

Side-Impact Collisions may result from a wide range of factors. For instance, if a driver is operating a vehicle at a very high speed, it may be hard to stop the car in case of an emergency. It may also be tough to control the vehicle, especially when making a turn. A Side-Impact Collision may occur if a driver makes a wrong turn. For instance, if a driver makes cross-traffic left turn when it is not safe to do so, a Side-Impact Collision may occur.

Failing to yield to the right of way is also a leading cause of vehicle accidents. The right of way refers to a rule that allows a particular driver or a pedestrian to go first. If the law requires the driver to yield right of way to another person either a driver or a pedestrian, the driver must honor the law. If an accident occurs due to failure to yield to the right of way, the driver who did not yield is at fault. A Side-Impact Collision may also occur if a driver makes the wrong U-turn or left turn. 

In California, right of way rule applies even when a driver is making a U-turn or a left turn. The rule particularly applies when making a turn across traffic. The law requires a driver to yield the right of way to all vehicles from the opposite direction. A driver should only make a turn when the road is safe enough.

Another leading cause of Side-Impact Collision is running a stop sign or a red light. For instance, you could be slowly entering an intersection when another vehicle running at full speed and attempting to make the light hits you on the side. In this case, the driver running a red light or stop sign is at fault. As long as a driver fails to obey the traffic signal and causes a collision, he/she is at fault according to California law.

What Happens if You Were Partly to Blame in a Side-Impact Collision

At times, a Side-Impact Collision might partly be the fault of the victim. It is possible for the injured driver to recover some damages even in a case where both drivers are at fault. In this case, the California comparative fault law applies. The victim will get compensation less his percentage of fault. For instance, if you are 30% at fault for a Side-Impact Collision, you can get compensation of up to 70%.

The at-fault driver might assert that the victim is at fault if the victim was not wearing a safety belt at the time of the collision. A victim may be at fault if it is evident that he/she had a functional seatbelt, and a reasonable person would have worn a seat belt under the circumstances. The liable party may argue that if the victim was wearing a seatbelt, the injuries suffered might have been lower. It may be hard to prove fault or negligence in the case of a Side-Impact Collision, especially if the parties involved are telling conflicting stories. It is for this reason that you need the assistance of an attorney to help you make a successful claim. 

What Happens if the Other Driver is Uninsured or Under-Insured

Under California law, it is a mandatory requirement for all motor vehicle drivers to carry minimum insurance.  In California, it is also a requirement for insurance providers to offer uninsured and underinsured (UM/UIM) motorist coverage. It is, however, essential to note that uninsured and underinsured policy is optional.

When another driver is at fault in an accident, but the driver does not have insurance coverage, the uninsured motorist insurance will cover the damages. If the other driver is at fault, but his or her insurance does not offer enough coverage, the underinsured motorist insurance company will cover the damages.

In some instances, if you are injured in a side-impact collision by a driver without insurance or by an underinsured driver, you may file a claim against the driver personally. However, if the driver has no insurance cover, he/she may not be able to compensate you for the injuries you suffer. The driver may not have enough money or assets to cover the cost of your injuries, including your medical bills. 

What Happens if Your Child or Spouse is Killed in a Side-Impact Collision

If your child or spouse succumbs to injuries sustained during a Side-Impact Collision, the victim would not be around to file a claim. However, as a surviving family member, you can file a claim under the survivor’s cause of action. You have a right to file a claim under California's wrongful death laws. This is the only way to hold the liable party at fault for the death of your loved one. After filing a wrongful death claim, the compensation you receive may cover funeral expenses as well. You may also receive compensation for the lost wages or lost income that the deceased person would have earned in the future. You may receive compensation for the loss of companionship, support, and comfort that the deceased person would have provided to you. After all, you will no longer be able to share some good family times with your deceased relative.

Who can file a wrongful death claim? Any person entitled to the property of the deceased may file a wrongful death claim according to California law. For instance, a child, spouse, and a registered domestic partner can file the claim. If the children of the deceased person are not alive, the surviving grandchildren may file a wrongful death claim.

Why Hire An Attorney After a Side-Impact Collision?

If you suffer minor injuries during a Side-Impact Collision, you may choose not to file a claim against the driver at fault.  However, if you suffer some serious injuries that require you to seek medical attention, it is advisable to seek legal counsel. This is especially if your injuries are likely to cause you to spend a significant period out of work.  You may also suffer some permanent injuries that will alter your life forever. Seeking legal counsel will help you get the compensation that you really deserve.

It is common for car insurance companies to deny injured drivers compensation. The insurance companies may also offer you less compensation than you deserve. It is common for insurance companies to delay compensation until the victim accepts their offer even if the offer is small. Most insurance companies are in business with the sole purpose of making money and do not have the interest of victims at heart. 

It is advisable to seek legal counsel immediately after a Side-Impact Collision before you even initiate the process of seeking compensation.  An attorney understands the ins and outs of a Side-Impact Collision and will give you the best counsel.  In addition, personal injury attorneys are used to dealing with insurance companies. The attorney will be able to get your full compensation with minimum stress. 

Damages/Compensations Available in a Side-Impact Collision

If you are involved in as Side-Impact Collision and you suffer injuries, you are entitled to compensation for the injuries sustained and also for any property damage that may occur. In a car accident, damages fall under two categories: economic damages and non-economic compensatory damages. Economic injuries have a clear dollar value and may include the cost of seeking medical compensation and the cost of repairing a damaged vehicle. The non-economic compensatory damages are hard to express in monetary terms. These injuries are also hard to assess, and they include pain and suffering. As a victim of a Side-Impact Collision, you may receive compensation as discussed below.

Medical Bills

Under California law, if a person causes an injury or an accident, the person will be responsible for the medical bills of the victims. The responsible person, the responsible company, or the insurer of the person at fault may pay the medical bills.

In order to get compensation for medical bills, the other party's insurer will need some copies of your medical bills. You should seek the assistance of your doctor or primary medical practitioner to provide you with all the needed medical records. You may also have to submit a copy of your medical results, including x-rays and other imaging results like MRI findings. Your doctor has to make a proper diagnosis of your injuries. For compensation, your injuries must be connected to the accident. Medical conditions you may have had before the accident are not liable for compensation. 

When seeking compensation for medical expenses, you should consider both present and future medical costs. Some injuries may require intense and continuous treatment that may extend into the future. For instance, if you sustain back injuries or broken bones, you may have to undergo therapy for a considerable period of time.

Lost Wages/Income

Lost wages would refer to the money you would have earned if it were not for the injuries suffered during the Side-Impact Collision. Under California law, you should also claim the anticipated future loss of income. Future losses are often referred to as loss of earning capacity. Compensatory damages comprise of lost earning capacity and lost wages.

To get the compensation you deserve, you have to file the claim within the set statutes of limitations. Under California law, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is two years. How can you prove lost wages? You can prove lost wages by providing copies of employment documents from your employer or your tax returns. This will help gauge the amount of income you were earning before the side-impact collision.

Pain and Suffering

If you suffer injuries due to negligence and wrongful acts of another person, you can seek compensation under California law.  Pain and suffering may include experiencing feelings of fear and anxiety after involvement in a side-impact collision. Victims of accidents experience a lack of enjoyment of life and feelings of grief and humiliation.

How can you prove emotional suffering? If you have undergone counseling to help you overcome the trauma suffered during the accident, you may provide records from your psychiatric. It may be very hard to prove subjective suffering, such as insomnia and anxiety. The testimony of your psychiatrist would go a long way in proving that you indeed suffered the said emotional distress.

Loss of Consortium

If your spouse or your registered domestic partner suffers injuries in a Side-Impact Collision, you may seek compensation for the lost companionship, moral support, and intimacy. This non-economic compensatory damage will compensate for the loss of regular relations with your partner. The compensation will not include economic losses like loss of earning capacity by the injured spouse.

Contact a Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney Near Me

If you have suffered injuries in a Side-Impact Collision, you are entitled to compensation under California law. The Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney is committed to helping people who have suffered injuries in car accidents to get fair compensation. Contact us at 424-231-2013 and speak to one of our attorneys. We will be happy to serve you.