Who is At Fault in a T-Bone Car Accident

Posted on December 15, 2022

According to the Federal Highway Administration, over 50% of car accidents with injuries and fatalities occur at intersections. The most common intersection accidents are broadside collisions, sometimes called T-bone accidents. This type of side-impact collision happens when the front of one car strikes the side of another vehicle, resulting in a perpendicular impact. T-bone accidents are among the most deadly types of car accidents, both because most safety features in vehicles serve to protect drivers and passengers in head-on collisions, and the fact that many T-bone accidents happen at high speeds.

Despite how unfortunately common T-bone accidents are in Utah and elsewhere, they are also among the most difficult types of accidents to determine liability by proving who is at fault. Because the state has a modified comparative negligence law for liability in car accidents, it’s important to understand who is at fault in a T-bone car accident in Utah because any driver who is less than 50% at fault can recover damages after this type of collision.

Determining Fault in T-Bone Accidents

In most T-bone accidents, determining fault isn’t as easy as simply learning who hit whom. Instead, determining liability depends on which driver had the right of way and which one failed to yield. Unfortunately, in this type of accident, it’s not uncommon for both drivers to believe and claim that they had the right of way. In other cases, the right of way may be clear if the T-bone accident occurs at an intersection with a functional signal light. If a driver runs through a red light either purposefully or due to distraction or intoxication, they are clearly liable. The same is true for drivers who drive through stop signs. In other cases, determining liability depends on the drivers’ descriptions of the accident and the testimony of eyewitnesses, as well as any available footage from traffic cameras and dash cameras.

The major causes of most T-bone accidents include the following:

  • Running a red light
  • Failure to yield at a red light or stop sign
  • Making an improper left turn or a left turn into oncoming traffic without enough time to safely clear
  • Distracted driving
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Reckless driving in an intersection

In all of the above situations, a driver is clearly at fault. An investigator may require traffic surveillance video, dash camera recordings, and eyewitness testimony to prove driver liability.

Is a Driver Always At Fault in a T-Bone Car Accident in Utah?

In the vast majority of cases, human error, recklessness, or negligence causes T-bone collisions leaving a driver at fault and liable in an accident claim. In rare instances, a third party or entity may bear fault in a T-bone collision. Depending on the findings of police and attorney investigations, third-party liability may result from

  • Traffic signal failure
  • Fallen, badly placed, or overgrowth-hidden stop signs
  • Vehicle defects or mechanical failure

In cases of third-party liability in the above scenarios, the city, county, state, or vehicle manufacturer may have to pay out on a T-bone accident claim or face litigation in court.

In many cases, an experienced accident attorney is the best resource in gathering evidence to determine fault in a T-bone car accident. Contact a Salt Lake City car accident attorney today.