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Who’s at Fault for a T-Bone Accident?

Damage to the car after a side collision with another car.

T-bone accidents are incredibly dangerous. Often, the driver or passenger of the vehicle struck in the side will suffer serious, if not fatal injuries. T-bone accidents almost always occur because at least one party involved acted negligently. Read on for a discussion of how fault is determined in a T-bone crash. If you’ve been injured in a side impact or other crash with a negligent driver in West Virginia, call the Martinsburg car accident lawyers at Burke, Schultz, Harman & Jenkinson for help getting medical care and compensation for your injuries.

How Do T-Bone Crashes Happen?

T-bone or side-impact collisions occur when the front of one vehicle collides with the side of another vehicle. Typically, T-bone crashes happen at intersections. Either two vehicles traveling in perpendicular directions collide, or one vehicle turns left and another driver crashes into the side of the turning vehicle.

T-bone accidents can also happen when pulling out of parking lots, when turning left (or even right) into traffic, or when making a U-turn across traffic.

Who Had the Right of Way?

Most of the time, if there was a T-bone accident, liability will turn on which party had the right of way. T-bone accidents typically occur because someone violated the right of way rules, meaning they pulled out into an intersection at a time when it was not legally their turn to do so.

Violating the right of way can happen in a number of situations: Did one party turn left on red, instead of waiting for a green light? Did they have a green light, and a driver coming from the opposite direction ran through a red light? Did a driver pull out into a busy road without checking for oncoming or perpendicular traffic? Did someone fail to wait their turn after stopping at a four-way intersection? Did someone ignore a red light, stop sign, or other traffic control device entirely?

Whichever driver violated the right of way is likely the one at fault for the accident. Other factors can affect fault and liability for a T-bone accident, however.

Other Signs of Negligence

In addition to who had the right of way, several other factors can play into determining who was at fault in the accident. Contributory negligence by both parties may affect each driver’s share of the blame. Factors that might contribute to negligence include:

  • Speeding
  • Turning without signaling
  • Drunk driving
  • Drowsy driving
  • Distracted driving (e.g., texting while driving)
  • Violating any other traffic laws

Comparative Negligence

If more than one party is partially at fault for the accident, then the legal concept of comparative negligence (also known as contributory negligence or comparative fault) could come into play. Under West Virginia’s comparative fault rules, an injury victim can seek compensation so long as they are only 50% or less to blame for their injuries, but their compensation will be offset by their percentage of fault.

For example, let’s say Driver A ran a stop sign and T-boned into Driver B. Driver A was clearly negligent. Let’s say Driver B was texting while driving, however, and might have avoided the accident had they been paying full attention. A jury might decide that Driver A is 80% to blame for blowing the stop sign and Driver B is 20% to blame because they were texting.

If Driver B suffered $100,000 in damages in the accident, they would be able to recover a maximum of $80,000 (i.e. $100,000 minus their 20% share of the blame). Under West Virginia rules, Driver A would not be able to recover any compensation from Driver B even if they were also injured, because Driver A was more than 50% at fault. The percentage that each party was at fault will be determined by a judge or jury at trial.

Get Help After a Car Accident in Martinsburg, West Virginia

If you or your loved one has been hurt in a car accident in West Virginia, get help from the thorough and experienced Martinsburg personal injury attorneys of Burke, Schultz, Harman & Jenkinson by calling 304-263-0900 or (304) LAWYERS for a free consultation.

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