Any car accident can result in catastrophic injuries, but side impact collisions, also known as T-bone accidents, are the most disastrous. In Nevada, these crashes are frequent in intersections where drivers fail to observe traffic lights and end up with the front-end of a car colliding with the side panel of another vehicle. If you have been involved in this type of crash, Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm can help you seek compensation.
Understanding Side Impact Collisions
As mentioned above, these kinds of car crashes are also called T-bone collisions. The term T originates from the fact that after an accident, the cars involved form a letter T or the accident occurs at a right angle. The injuries sustained in these crashes depend on the size of the vehicle and the speed. Note that most front ends of a car are made to withstand high impact after a collision to protect the driver and the passenger. But the driver or passengers of the vehicle that is hit on the side panel has little protection because only the door and side airbags are available to bolster the impact. The victims of these crashes, therefore, suffer traumatic injuries, and others end up dead.
The impact of the crash often tosses the occupants of the vehicle in a whip-like motion. So, even if the side airbags absorb some of the effects, the occupants of the car will still suffer injuries because the side impact of the vehicle will make it roll over. The motor car that has been hit on the side can go off its course leading to other collisions from oncoming motorists. Being off your lane will expose you to the possibility of more collisions with guardrails, telephone poles, and other vehicles.
The few people who are lucky to survive these collisions suffer internal injuries, broken bones, neck, spine, and brain injuries. If you are among these people injured in these collisions, you will need a personal injury attorney to ensure you get compensation from the liable party.
Right of Way and Side Impact Collisions
Fault in car accidents is determined by negligence. Where a driver fails to observe traffic rules or drives without exercising due care, then he or she is deemed to be driving negligently.
Note that oncoming motorists always have the right of way. When making a left turn, you should wait until the oncoming motorist allows you enough space to turn. Rushing through oncoming traffic is a traffic rule violation, and it often results in side impact collisions. It’s essential also to understand that oncoming traffic consists of motorists making a right turn.
Traffic signals tell if you have the right of way or not. So, pay attention to these lights and watch out for other road users, especially the pedestrians, whenever you have the right of way. Despite the green light giving you the right of way, it’s not wise to cross an intersection carelessly. There is a need to exercise reasonable care to reduce the risk of an accident.
When you come across a yield sign, it is advisable to slow down or stop and only move when traffic allows you to do so. You should also obey instructions by traffic officers or emergency vehicle personnel on the road.
In case two cars arrive at an intersection at the same time, the vehicle at the left must yield the right of way. The auto that enters an intersection first if two cars reach at the same time has the right of way. Again, regardless of what the traffic signals indicate, a vehicle should stop at an intersection when traffic is disguised.
Any driver that violates the rule of right of way and causes an accident will be held liable for injuries sustained by the victims.
Causes of Side Impact Collisions
Failing to yield the right of way is the crucial cause of these accidents. The crashes are frequent in four-way stops or intersections. Aside from not giving the right of way, other common causes of these types of car accidents include:
Running a Red Light or Stop Sign When Another Car is Legally at an Intersection
Side impact collisions occur when a driver attempting to make the light enters an intersection at high speed, hitting the vehicle that was legally crossing the intersection at high speed. After the accident, the driver who failed to obey the traffic light is the party at fault.
Left Turn or U-Turn When it is Not Safe
As said earlier, right of way applies even to drivers making a left or U-turn. When a driver fails to allow all the oncoming vehicles entering an intersection enough time to make it reasonably safe to make the left or U-turn, side impact collisions are likely to occur. In such incidences, the driver making the U-turn is to blame for negligence.
Apart from these, other causes of these collisions include distracted driving. A T-bone crash will occur when a driver is operating a car when texting or when over the phone. At this time, the driver is not paying much attention to the road and might try crossing an intersection when obscured or without observing the traffic signal.
Another common cause of these accidents is driving while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol. During this time, the judgment or decision making of the driver is poor. A drunk driver will try making a left turn when it is unsafe to do so or cross an intersection at high speed without checking the traffic lights, and this results in side impact collisions.
Distracted driving and drunk driving are all treated the same because they are against Nevada laws. Whatever the cause of the accident, it is essential to find the liable party and ensure they compensate you for the damages.
What many people fail to understand is that determining fault isn’t easy. A police report is needed, expert testimonies, witness statements, and physical damages at the scene. If you lack knowledge about these things, you might end up with the least amount of compensation or with no compensation at all. The best move is to hire an attorney with knowledge about personal injury law for representation.
Determining Fault in Side Impact Collisions
In these crashes, the fault is determined by negligence. Either driver of the vehicles involved in the collision can be at fault. Determining fault is difficult, but if there are witnesses or the driver admits mistake, it becomes easy. The light sequence at an intersection might also help to establish fault. The report from the police who visited the scene can also be instrumental in the determination of responsibility. If there are traffic cameras or surveillance cameras near the scene of the crime, the footage can aid in showing the party liable for the crash.
Medical reports can also help in the determination of fault. The majority of victims of side impact collisions suffer trauma on the left or right, depending on the side the car was hit. By looking at the injuries sustained, you can prove the liable person. The skid marks on the road or debris can also be instrumental in determining the person responsible for the collision.
Note that Nevada uses a modified comparative negligence rule that requires even the injured party to establish that he or she was not as responsible for the injuries sustained as the driver being sued. If you are partly to blame for your injuries, the court will order that the damages you will receive be reduced by your percentage of negligence. Remember that you will still receive compensation as long as your liability in the accident is less than 51%. If the amount of guilt by the plaintiff is more than 51%, then you are not eligible for any compensation.
Calculating the percentage of fault is the work of the jury. The judge will consider a lot of things to determine negligence and the amount of compensation you deserve. But if multiple cars are involved in the side impact crash, it becomes difficult to establish the person responsible. You will have to depend on eyewitnesses to try and find out what happened, which makes the process of proving fault to take long.
After the fault is established, the at-fault driver should compensate all the victims of the collision for the damages incurred.
Preserving Evidence After the Collision
After a T-bone crash, the scene clears immediately to prevent traffic congestion. You will need to collect and preserve evidence at the stage because it is instrumental in establishing fault. Your injury attorney will need to check your car, the police report, and the images of the scene to help build a case. As such, immediately after the car accident, you should contact the police. Law enforcement officers have training on how to handle an accident scene. They will make their observations, speak to the drivers involved, and get their statements. The officers will also talk to eyewitnesses to get their side of the story about the crash. Make sure you get hold of a copy of this report because it will have some of the evidence you will need to show the person responsible for your injuries.
Aside from relying on the police report, take pictures of the damages done on the car before you take it for repairs. You can take the images of other vehicles involved in the crash too. The photos you make should be clear and detailed. So, if possible, you can zoom in the camera for a clearer picture. Keep in mind that in case you fail to take photos of other vehicles, and they are repaired immediately after the crash, you might lose the evidence you require to build a strong case.
Nevada Rule of Civil Procedure 34 makes it possible for you to request an inspection for the car involved in an accident. The suit grants you an opportunity to inspect the vehicle after the crash if you were not lucky to take pictures at the scene. But you can only file a request for inspection if the car hasn’t been repaired. To apply, you will need your personal injury attorney to file for compensation first, then in accordance with the rule, submit a request to inspect the vehicle.
Again, you can capture images of the skid marks or debris on the road. Anything else that might have contributed to the crash, such as obscured stop signs, vehicles parked on the road, or malfunctioning traffic lights can all be instrumental in building a case, so take pictures of such things.
If it’s possible to take pictures of the injuries sustained immediately after the crash, do it. The images will give your attorney a hint of the direction your vehicle was hit, thus making it easy to establish the motorist responsible for the injuries.
Remember that in some collisions, proving someone is responsible for the crash is almost impossible. In such events, an accident reconstruction expert will aid in reconstructing how the accident unfolded. These experts will also rely on some of the evidence at the scene to show what happened seconds to the crash. When remodeling the accident to the judge or jury, these experts use computer simulations and other visual aids to paint a picture of what happened, leading to the side impact collision. However, the experts are required if the case is not straight forward.
Damages Available in Side Impact Collisions
These are losses incurred by the victims of an accident. A side impact collision can result in property damages and injuries. Those injured in these crashes can file a personal injury lawsuit to seek compensation for losses they have suffered.
Damages can be categorized as economic and non-economic. Financial are those with a precise dollar value, while non-economic are those that are challenging to evaluate and with no clear dollar value. Some of the compensable damages in these crashes include:
The insurer of the party at fault should compensate you or cover your medical bills, medication and medical supplies, physical therapy, and past, current and future medical expenses.
If there was any damage to the property, including cars and other structures close to the scene of the accident, people who have suffered losses should recover damages. The insurer should help in replacing or repair or the vehicles involved in the crash and any other property that might have been destroyed in the crash,
Loss of Income
After a side impact collision, most of the victims sustain life-changing injuries. They are no longer able to work or engage in activities that generate income. As such, these people should claim damages from the party at fault for lost wages and loss of earning capacity.
In the event a loved one is involved in a side impact collision and loses his or her life, you can file a wrongful death claim to recover compensation for funeral and burial costs. Apart from funeral costs, you can recover compensation for loss of support and loss of financial earnings the deceased would have made if he or she was alive.
Pain and Suffering
After a T-bone crash, the victims undergo physical and mental stress. Although there is no dollar value for emotional and physical distress, you can recover compensation for these damages. The amount of payment you recover depends on the severity of the injuries, the type of injury, and the prognosis of future pain stemming from the injury. How well you document the injuries and discomfort during and after treatment will help in determining the amount you receive as reimbursement for pain and suffering.
Other recoverable damages include:
- Loss of consortium
- A survival cause of action damages
Limits on Recoverable Damages
Persons aged 60 years and above or those considered vulnerable in the society are entitled to twice the damages awarded if the side impact crash was due to neglect or abuse by the liable party. The losses are also known as punitive damages, and they seek to punish the at-fault driver for negligence. If you have been awarded $100,000 or more, you will get triple the amount of compensation awarded. Where the damages you will receive are less than $100,000, you are entitled to compensable damages of $300,000.
Where a side impact collision occurred because of willful misconduct by a minor, the parents or legal guardians of the minor should be held responsible for your losses. However, Nevada law requires that they do not pay more than $10,000 in compensation. If the state is to blame for the crash may be because the traffic signal malfunctioned or obscured the stoplight, the state should compensate. The maximum amount to be received as compensation from the state is $100,000 but without interest.
Injuries in Side Impact Collisions
The injuries sustained in these crashes vary depending on the speed of the collision, the angle of the impact, side or front end airbags, type of vehicle, and use of seat belts. But generally, side impact crashes are fatal and can result in some of the following injuries:
Spinal Cord Injuries
When this type of car accident occurs, the impact might cause the spinal cord to stretch and strain or even make the disc to get into contact with the spinal cord. When this happens, it can leave the victim with severe injuries or permanent disability.
When a car is hit from the side by another vehicle at high speed, the jerking motion is severe. Your neck is slammed both right and left, leaving you with critical injuries.
Side impact collisions will result in broken bones on the left or right side of your body, depending on the side the car is hit. The accident will leave you with broken bones, which are usually painful. They take time to heal, and in specific incidences, the broken bone might require surgery to repair, which is costly and involves a lot of pain.
Soft Tissue Injuries
When this type of car accident occurs, your muscles and ligaments are likely to be torn or strained. This results in soft tissue injuries, which are usually very painful.
Other injuries include:
- Brain trauma
- Internal injuries
- Facial trauma
Keep in mind that the injuries sustained in side impact crashes get even worse where victims are trapped inside the vehicle. What happens is that the doors of the car that has been hit are sealed, leaving the occupants with no exit. Extraction tools will be required to get these victims out of the wreckage. People who witness the crash might not have the tools needed to extract the victim from the vehicle. Pulling injured people out of a car with sealed doors can result in internal organ damage. If bystanders are unable to do anything, the people trapped in the vehicle will have to wait for the emergency response team, which might not arrive immediately. The time the victims spend stuck in the wreckage can increase the severity of the injuries or the possibility of death.
Time Limit to Bring a Case in Nevada
If you get involved in a side impact collision or any other form of a car accident, you have until twenty-four months to file a case. If the period elapses without filing a claim, you lose the constitutional right to do so.
Also, understand that you should not always go for the first settlement when seeking to recover damages. The first deal is not still the best, and once you accept it, you cannot reopen the case. However, since the 1st of October 2019, personal injury victims, including those that have sustained injuries from side impact collisions, can take back the previous agreement with the insurer to reopen the case. This will be possible if you sign the release within 30 days after the crash without help from an attorney and within 60 days inform the insurer in writing that you want to void the statement and take back the money within ten days of writing.
Find a Side Impact Collision Attorney Near Me
At Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm, we help victims of side impact collisions recover compensation for their injuries and property damages. Call us today at 702-996-1224 for a phone or office consultation.