Who Is at Fault for a T-Bone Accident?

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T-Bone Car AccidentThe person whose negligence caused the crash is liable for a T-bone accident. The guilty party is not always the driver whose vehicle hits the side of the other car. Determining who is at fault in a T-bone car accident depends on who broke a traffic law that led to the wreck. Sometimes more than one person is negligent.

At Max Meyers Law, our Kirkland, WA personal injury lawyers have experience helping clients who suffered injuries in T-bone accidents. If someone else caused your crash, you might be able to recover damages in a personal injury claim. Call us at 425-399-7000 for a free case evaluation. 

How Can I Determine Who Caused My T-Bone Accident?

Typically, one driver has the right of way, and the other driver does not. If a driver fails to yield the right of way, and this results in a T-bone accident, they are often at fault for the crash.

If the other driver made one of these common driving mistakes, they could be liable for your damages:

  • They disobeyed a traffic light and proceeded into the road;
  • They failed to yield while entering the roadway from a side street or alley;
  • They did not reduce their speed or come to a full stop in the presence of a yield sign;
  • They did not follow the right-of-way rules for a four-way stop;
  • They did not react appropriately to an uncontrolled intersection;
  • They failed to yield while turning left at an intersection; or
  • They did not treat an intersection with non-functioning traffic signals as an all-way stop.

How Do T-Bone Wrecks Happen?

A T-bone accident, also called a side-impact collision, happens when one car smashes into the side of another vehicle. Many of these accidents involve drug or alcohol impairment or distracted driving. Some of the most common scenarios for T-bone crashes are:

  • Running a red light or stop sign;
  • Failing to yield the right of way at an intersection;
  • Pulling onto a street into the path of oncoming traffic; and
  • Backing out of a parking space without looking for other vehicles.

Why Are T-Bone Crashes So Severe?

T-bone accidents are so dangerous because they usually result in catastrophic or fatal injuries, depending on the point of impact on your vehicle in relation to the locations of the driver and passengers.

Several factors can affect the severity of injuries. For example:

  • If the other vehicle hits the driver’s door, the driver will experience the worst of the impact;
  • If the other car strikes the opposite side of the vehicle, passenger injuries could be significant;
  • If the force of the collision crushes the vehicle or sends glass and shrapnel into the passenger compartment, significant cuts or lacerations, head trauma, and spinal cord injuries can result; and
  • If one vehicle is much larger than another, the occupants of the smaller vehicle could suffer serious injuries.

What Injuries Can Vehicle Occupants Suffer in T-Bone Accidents?

The driver and occupants of each vehicle can suffer significant injuries, including:

  • Blunt force trauma;
  • Head trauma;
  • Spinal cord injuries;
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI);
  • Damage to internal organs;
  • Fractures;
  • Lacerations; and
  • Contusions.

If we can prove that another driver’s negligence caused your T-bone accident, we might be able to hold them liable for the cost to treat your injuries. You could also qualify for compensation for your other related expenses.

What Is Negligence?

Negligence has four legal components. If we can prove the following details were true, you could have a strong case for compensation.

Duty of Care

All drivers must obey the rules of the road, operate their vehicles in a reasonable and prudent manner, and follow all traffic signs and signals.

Breach of Duty of Care

If a driver fails to perform up to the standards of the duty of care, they are negligent.


If we can prove their negligence caused your accident, we can hold them responsible.


The at-fault party is liable for any damages you suffered as a result of their negligence.

How Will a Lawyer Prove My T-Bone Accident Claim?

We will build your claim by gathering the evidence related to the other party’s fault and your damages. This proof can include:

  • The police report to show who caused the accident;
  • Your medical records to establish the harm you suffered;
  • Your work records to back up your claim for lost wages;
  • Vocational experts to prove any long-term impact on your capacity to support yourself through employment; and
  • Any other relevant documents showing your damages.

After we collect strong evidence for your case, we will file a claim with the at-fault driver's insurance company. If the insurer tries to deny your claim or is unwilling to offer you a fair settlement, we can file a lawsuit on your behalf.

What Happens If Both Drivers Were at Fault for the T-Bone Accident?

If you were partly at fault in the T-bone crash, Washington’s comparative negligence laws could allow you to recover money for some of your damages.

For example, imagine a drunk driver blew through a red light at an intersection. You had a green light and were traveling at a prudent speed, but you looked away for just a moment to check a text message on your cell phone. Because of the distraction, you could not stop in time to avoid getting T-boned.

Your damages total $100,000. If the judge assesses 10 percent of the negligence to you for distracted driving, you could still recover $90,000. This proportional reduction of damages represents your own degree of fault.

How Can I Get Legal Help After a T-Bone Accident?

At Max Meyers Law, we only handle claims and cases that are transportation-related. If you have suffered injuries in a T-bone or other traffic accident, call us at 425-399-7000 to arrange your complimentary consultation. We do not charge legal fees until you recover compensation.

Max Meyers
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Max is a Kirkland personal injury attorney handling cases in Seattle, King County & surrounding in WA State.